The Sioux Falls Skyforce stand at just 8-9, good for only a mediocre spot across the NBA D-League standings as the new year begins. Nevertheless, there's plenty to be excited about in town. The team is just 2.5 games behind the division-leading 10-6 Grand Rapids Drive.
What's more, there are a handful of promising young guns current boasting their talents in Sioux Falls. And while the likes of Larry Drew II and Khem Birch are among those garnering early praise, Fuquan Edwin is certainly not far behind.
At 6'6" and 215 pounds, it's safe to say Edwin has one of the more common builds across professional basketball. But luckily for him, but does a number of the things one would expect from a taylor-made wingman quite well. He's enthusiastic. He runs the floor well, and knows where to go and spot himself to help his team spread the floor on offense. Defensively, he assertively looks to get after the ball and steadily stay in front of his man.
The little things he does undoubtedly leaves a positive effect in a team-atmosphere. He's not the most dominant of scorers, which means he can otherwise play intelligently and patiently wait for his own opportunities while others go to work.
From Danny Green to James Nunnally (in addition to a handful of others, of course), Edwin may be the next up and coming wing to show promise and garner consideration from an NBA call-up sooner, rather than later.
Like those talented players before, Edwin is using the D-League in an attempt to further prove his worth. Of course, the road to The Association is often somewhat of a grind for those who make the journey. But as fate would have it, the 23 year old is not only enjoying himself along the way, but is also pleasantly surprised by what the minor league has to offer.
"This is like a family. It's almost like college all over again. I talked to different guys coming into this who told me it was everyone for themselves out there. I just had to remain focused," Edwin explained to RidiculousUpside.com recently. "When I got down here, it wasn't like that at all. I knew a couple of guys coming into it, and I formed quick relationships with the guys who I didn't know initially. I don't think anyone out here is playing for themselves. This is a family."
He added, "From top to bottom, Coach [Phil] Weber and everyone else are really professional. That goes from the Miami Heat, down to the Skyforce."
Coach Weber assumed head coaching duties with the Skyforce following some time as a consultant with the affiliated Heat organization. Before that, he was a longtime NBA assistant under Mike D'Antoni. It's safe to say that Coach D'Antoni wasn't exactly praised and/or recognized for his defensive philosophies. Nevertheless, this new opportunity in the D-League allows Coach Weber to create and further develop his own identity. According to Edwin, instilling a certain defensive intensity is part of it, which means he personally is able to fit in perfectly on both ends of the floor.
"I think [the system] fits me very well. We move. Coming out of transition, there's a defense-first mindset. You shoot when you're open. We just play. Play free. Don't do too much," he said. "I think that's something that helps me, because it carries over from college. At Seton Hall, we knew to play good defense, shoot when you're open, and everything else will take care of itself."
Edwin continued, "The season is going well. I'm trying to learn, because there's a different pace here, being a pro. I'm learning Coach Weber's system and getting acclimated with the Miami Heat."
So far, so good, for the youngster. Edwin has kept it simple, but has otherwise put forth a strong start to the campaign. Through seventeen games, he's averaged 15 points (on an efficient 48% from the field and 42% from deep) to go along with 4.5 rebounds.
As the season progresses, Edwin will look to improve his ball-handling skills and continue adjusting to the defensive end of the floor on the professional level. But with the 2015 NBA D-League Showcase now less than two weeks away, he'll have the opportunity to put his already evident skills on display for the slew of top notch NBA decision-makers set to be in town.