Wounded Warriors

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The 2016 NBA D-League showcase at the Kaiser Permanente Arena featured 19 teams and 19 games, with two NBA call-ups and one showcase champion. For the Santa Cruz Warriors it resulted in a 0-2 record and a Net Rating of -18.0, the worst in the showcase.

Santa Cruz Warriors #19 Daniel Orton wins the tip off at the beginning of the game against the Sioux Skyforce on Jan. 9. The Skyforce defeated the Santa Cruz Warriors 102-81. Photo by Jasper Lyons
Santa Cruz Warriors #19 Daniel Orton wins the tip off at the beginning of the game against the Sioux Skyforce on Jan. 9. The Skyforce defeated the Santa Cruz Warriors 102-81.
Photo by Jasper Lyons

“It’s tough, we’re on a very bad stretch right now, and we aren’t doing ourselves any favors when we play games and don’t come out with enthusiasm or heart,” said guard Aaron Craft, who returned to the Warriors last week after playing in Hungary.

With Elliot Williams called up to the Memphis Grizzlies on a 10-day contract, the Warriors struggled to produce in his absence. Williams is currently the Warriors’ leading scorer and is second in the league.

“Of course losing Elliot hurts,” said head coach Casey Hill. “That’s 28 points a game.”

In their first game last Friday night, the Warriors fell to the Iowa Energy 89-101 despite the offensive push by Darington Hobson, who finished with 24 points and 18 rebounds.

The Energy were led by Alex Stepheson who posted his 12th straight double-double with 21 points and 13 rebounds. Andrew Harrison added 20 points, six rebounds and nine assists. All five Energy starters scored at least 12 points in the game. The Warriors were led by Darington Hobson with 24 points and 18 rebounds.

Net Rating, calculated by subtracting Defensive Rating from Offensive Rating, was used to crown the Sioux Falls Skyforce champions of the 2016 NBA D-League Showcase. According to the NBA D-League, Offensive Rating is calculated by dividing a team’s total points by its total offensive possessions, while Defensive Rating is derived by dividing a team’s total points allowed by its opponent’s total offensive possessions.

The Skyforce, one of seven teams to go 2-0 in the event, finished first in the showcase with a Net Rating of 13.3. They also defeated the Warriors last Saturday night with a final score of 102-81, propelling them to 16-3 — an NBA D-League record for best record to open a season.

“I don’t think they’re necessarily amazing offensively,” Hill said. “They had 20 points off of our turnovers, and they had 21 second chance points. That’s 41 points of their 101 that were something we could’ve done something about.”

Warriors’ Verdell Jones finished the game with a team high 17 points and seven rebounds in 24 minutes.

The Skyforce led by as many as 35 points with five minutes remaining in the game before they let off the gas, allowing the Warriors to close out the game on a 20-6 run, though the Warriors still lost by 21 points.

Point guard #14 Aaron Craft hangs in the air moments before laying up a basket. The Santa Cruz Warriors finished the D-league showcase 0-2, citing their loss of leading scorer Elliot Williams as a contributing factor. Photo by Jasper Lyons
Point guard #14 Aaron Craft hangs in the air moments before laying up a basket. The Santa Cruz Warriors finished the D-league showcase 0-2, citing their loss of leading scorer Elliot Williams as a contributing factor.
Photo by Jasper Lyons

“Now I know what it was like to play against us last year,” Hill said following the game against the Skyforce. “It doesn’t feel good to be blown out. That team is absolutely rolling, they have a lot of talent and they play with heart, they’re defensively focused, which is what we gotta be to be successful in the league.”

When asked about which players he took notice of in the five-day event, José Luis Mateo, CEO of Rio Natura Monbus Obradoiro, said “not any of the Santa Cruz Warriors. None of them have impressed me this week.” Rio Natura Monbus Obradoiro is a professional basketball team in Santiago, Spain.

Following the showcase, the Warriors returned to the court on Tuesday against the Idaho Stampede in a 91-101 loss. Despite the loss, the team scored 31 points in the first quarter, a significant boost in offensive production. The team welcomed Kevon Looney, who is on assignment from the Golden State Warriors. Looney finished with 11 points in 16 minutes.

“The frustration is the play on the floor,” Aaron Craft said about the losing streak. “It’s just the product we are putting out on the floor, this is on me just as much as anyone else in the locker room […] and it’s our job to fix it.”