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2016-17 NBADL Team Preview: Reno Bighorns

Editor Dakota Schmidt continues our 2016-17 NBA D-League season preview by taking a look at the Reno Bighorns

NBA: Sacramento Kings-Media Day Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Projected Opening Day Starting Five:

Point Guard: Isaiah Cousins

Shooting Guard: Lamar Patterson

Small Forward: Chane Behanan

Power Forward: Kadeem Jack

Center: Will Davis

How Did They Do Last Year?

Last season, the Reno Bighorns had one of their best seasons in franchise history, as they finished with the 2015-16 season with a great 33-17 record. The Bighorns success was primarily due to their offensive prowess as they stood as the best team in the NBADL, finishing with a league-best 123.4 points per game. That phenomenal offense was led by the trio of Erick Green, Vince Hunter and Ricky Ledo. Green was the leader of that talented core, as he averaged 25.7 points, 4.1 assists and 1.3 steals per game on an incredibly efficient 51% from the field and 44% from beyond the arc.

On the other end of the spectrum, the 6’10 Vince Hunter arguably stood as the best front-court player in the D-League due to his sheer domination on the offensive and defensive glass. That was seen by him averaging 21.8 points and 11.4 rebounds per game, which including him collecting 4.3 offensive boards per game during the prior season.

Last but certainty not least, Ricky Ledo stood as the Bighorns 3rd All-Star player as he stood as a tenacious and versatile offensive weapon. Those labels are backed up by him averaging 21.3 points, 2.8 assists and 6.1 rebounds on 44% from the field and 39% from beyond the arc.

How Will They Do This Year?

Although I like to stand as a huge optimist in these pieces, I believe that the Bighorns are going to have a little bit of a down season in 2016-17. That’s mainly due to the team not having the level of talent that they had in the prior season. That’s most evident in the front-court as it doesn’t seem that the Bighorns has a big at the level of Vnce Hunter. At this point, it seems that the team will open the season with the duo of Kadeem Jack and Will Davis.

Jack is 6’9 forward that spent the prior season with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants and Reno Bighorns. Jack had the most success with the Bighorns, where he averaged 10.5 points and 4.8 rebounds per game on 61% from the field and 44% from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, Davis is a 6’8 UC-Irvine alum that’s bound to put on a plethora of jaw-dropping athletic performances in the upcoming season.

Transitioning into the back-court where the team might have its most success in the upcoming season, where it’s led by Lamar Patterson and Isaiah Cousins. Cousins is the headline act of that duo as he’s a 6’5 combo guard that excels as both a perimeter shooter (shot 41% from beyond the arc as a senior at Oklahoma) and facilitator (averaged 4.45 assists per game and maintained a 1.91 Ast/TO ratio. His backcourt partner, Lamar Patterson, spent the prior season transitioning between the Atlanta Hawks and multiple D-League stints. With the Austin Spurs and Canton Charge, Patterson put up 12.8 points and 4.3 assists per game on 43% from the field.

Who Is Most Likely Called Up?

That nod will probably have to go to former Oklahoma guard Isaiah Cousins. like we mentioned in the section above, Cousins stands as a versatile guard that can both be a productive facilitator and outstanding perimeter shooter. That facilitating probably stands as his best skill, as Cousins is fantastic at throwing these precise bounce passes in transition of half-court sets. Some of those examples are seen in the play below.

Most Likely Assignee?

Honestly, there’s probably three separate answers to this question: Malachi Richardson, Georgios Papagiannis and Skal Labissiere. That trio is likely to see some time with the Bighorns for two separate reasons: their lack of experience and current position in the Kings depth chart. According to Rotoworld’s NBA Depth Chart, both Richardson and Papagiannis both sit 3rd in their specific position. Meanwhile, Labisseire is not even not positioned on that list. Going to that first position, both Labissiere and Richardson spent only one season in college hoops. Meanwhile, Papagiannis that played a limited role with Panathianikos in the prior two seasons.

It appears that the Kings get the message, as they announced on Friday that they assigned the trio to the Reno Bighorns.