Nevada Smith Brings Offensive Minded Game To Sioux Falls

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Updated: September 23, 2016

The reigning D-League champion Sioux Falls Skyforce received a makeover on Wednesday when the Miami Heat announced the team’s next head coach would be Nevada Smith.

Smith replaces Dan Craig, who set a D-League record for best regular season record (40-10) before making his return to the Heat sideline as an assistant coach after the departures of David Fizdale and Keith Smart to the Memphis Grizzlies.

With the loss of both from the bench, the Heat went outside the box and hired someone outside the organization in Smith. Previous hires since Miami took control of basketball operations in Sioux Falls for the 2013 season include Pat Delany, Phil Weber and Craig.

So what is different about Smith in contrast to his predecessors? Aside from no previous connections to the Heat (other than a stint with the team during Summer League as an assistant coach), the man pushes the limits on offense.

The Skyforce have been known for their defensive prowess over the last few years, with the league’s best defensive rating in two of the last three seasons. Last season the team also led the league in net rating (9.8). Since 2012-13, the Skyforce have had a top-10 defensive rating, including No. 1 overall two of the last three seasons. In an uptempo league where

Smith has previous D-League experience with a two-year stint as head coach of the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, the D-League affiliate of the Houston Rockets.

This is what 2268 3-point attempts looks like.

This is what 2268 3-point attempts looks like.

His first season (2013-14), the Vipers held the top offensive rating in the league with Smith’s desire to eliminate the mid-range jumper and shoot the three pointer or finish at the basket. RGV attempted an obscene 2268 three-pointers that year under Smith, a D-League record (until it was broken the following season by the Reno Bighorns). The next closest team that season was the Los Angeles D-Fenders with 1785 attempts from long range.

Former Houston Rocket Troy Daniels made his mark on the D-League that same year, appearing in 48 games and nailing a record 240 three-pointers while shooting 40% from deep during that span.

Before ‘The System’ invaded the D-League, courtesy of David Arseneault Jr. and the Reno Bighorns, Smith showed off his offensive prowess, averaging a then-league record 123.1 points per game.

During his inaugural D-League season, Smith’s Vipers squad only took three percent of its shots from mid-range, compared to the Austin Toros (now Spurs), who took 17 percent of its shots from the same area. RGV also led the league with nearly 40 percent of its points coming from beyond the arc. The next closest teams were the Los Angeles D-Fenders (33.1%), followed by the Iowa Energy (27.1%).

Smith compiled a regular season record of 57-43, in two years with the Vipers, including a playoff berth his first season. The Vipers were eliminated from playoff contention on the very last day of his second season with the team.

While Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey implored Smith to push the tempo and shooting three-pointers at an incredible pace, what does this mean for the team in Sioux Falls? Will we see a similar style of play once again?

Perhaps there will be an emphasis on three-pointers much like previous years, but likely not to the extent of 3-point hyperdrive that was available in the Rio Grande. I don’t know if we’ll see a team that attempted over 45 three-pointers a game, that seems to be a stretch. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see Sioux Falls near the top in offensive rating this coming season, just perhaps not using the Spinal Tap method of dialing it up to 11.

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