The Sioux Falls Skyforce are off to a hot start this season, and much of their success is due to the likes of DeAndre Liggins and center Justin Hamilton. Both are ranked in RidiculousUpside.com's Prospect Pyramid and are hoping to take their talents to South Beach (Sioux Falls parent club Miami Heat) or another NBA club. Continued strong play by both prospects will only strengthen their cases for respective call-ups.
Here's some more in-depth analysis on how what each player has to offer.
DeAndre Liggins, Guard
Liggins is a combo guard with a lean, muscular build. He resembles a taller body type of Darrell Armstrong. The 6'6" Liggins has some NBA skills but has ultimately lacked the all-around consistency to remain in the NBA for an extended period of time.
He shuttled back and forth between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the NBADL-affiliated Tulsa 66ers last season, averaging 11.6 points, 6.9 rebounds and 4.3 assists in 19 games (all starts) while on assignment.
The 25-year old Liggins is a solid three-point shooter with good range. He's shooting 33.3% from beyond the arc, but has shown improvement in that area and will continue to show strides as a shooter. While his numbers indicate that his mid-range game needs work (39.3% from the field), Liggins can improve his shooting game with better pre-shot preparation, in addition to coming off screens with his hands ready. The former Kentucky star has filled the stat sheet with real solid numbers so far this season (15.4 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 4.1 apg, 2.5 spg).
Selected by the Magic in the second round (53rd overall) of the 2011 NBA Draft, Liggins holds career averages of 1.6 points and 1.2 rebounds in 56 games with Orlando (17) and Oklahoma City (39). He's crafty and has the ability to get to the rim.
Still, the guard is a mystery on the defensive end. Liggins shows good footwork and has the ability and toughness to be a very good defender, but must be quicker to rotate on defense and be more proactive in defending screen/roll situations, while maintaining overall consistency on the defensive end. Nevertheless, his ball pressure is very good and his footwork and instincts allow this to be his biggest strength.
Liggins has real good ability to keep the ball in front and moves his feet well to take charges. While the recent off-the-court issue may be a concern to some, consistency in his game can help Liggins overcome concerns that teams may have about him. Liggins is someone that is a late bloomer, but at age 25, his time is now. His defensive toughness, footwork and three-point shooting abilities are good enough for NBA teams to monitor his progress and improvement in the coming months.
Justin Hamilton, Center
Hamilton is a center who physically resembles the likes of Steve Stipanovich and Eric Montross. The 7-footer from Louisiana State University is very efficient and maxes out his talents. He has a right-handed running hook in the paint that serves as his go-to move, and is very effective with a reverse jumper as well.
The 23-year old Hamilton has a good mid-range game and runs the floor real hard on both ends in transition. He will drive the ball to the rim on occasion, but doesn't finish real well with the left hand. Hamilton gets good defensive position, blocks out hard, and is a very solid defensive rebounder. His numbers are solid, with averages of 18.6 point and 8.8 rebounds per contest, while shooting 48.3% from the field. His mid-range game is solid, but improving throughout the season.
Hamilton went to camp with the Skyforce as an affiliate player after being waived by the Miami Heat in training camp. In fact, Hamilton has been wearing a face mask from an injury suffered during the Heat camp this past fall, but it doesn't appear to hinder his game or his toughness. Last season, Hamilton split the season between VEF Riga (Latvia) of the VTB United League and Cibona (Croatia) of the Adriatic League. Originally selected by the Philadelphia 76ers in the second round (45th overall) of the 2012 NBA Draft, his draft rights were traded to the Heat along with a future conditional first-round pick in exchange for the draft rights to Arnett Moultrie (27th overall selection in the 2012 NBA Draft. Hamilton played two seasons at Iowa State University before transferring to LSU. He was named All-SEC Second Team as a redshirt junior after averaging 12.9 point and 7.2 rebounds in 33 games.
Hamilton is someone that does a lot of things well and is fundamentally sound. While may he not be much of a scorer at the NBA level, his mid-range game will drag defenses away from the basket and have some value. He will hold his own as a defensive rebounder in the NBA. Although there is nothing flashy about Hamilton, he is someone that could be a good fit in a reserve role for an NBA club down the road.