McGruder’s Short G League Tour with Skyforce Pays Dividends
Though his recent time with the Sioux Falls Skyforce was brief, the Rodney McGruder experience was a masterful use of the G League system that benefited multiple entities.
First and foremost, there were benefits to McGruder for getting some reps on the court before rejoining the Heat. Suffering a stress fracture in the left tibia and having surgery to repair isn’t exactly small potatoes. Getting two starts while on assignment with the Skyforce and getting 20 minutes of work the first night, a day of rest then 24 the next night in preparation of returning to the Association was a well-designed plan. It’s hard to argue with the production: 13 points, 5 rebounds and 12 of 19 conversions from inside the arc. Outside the arc was one area lagging for McGruder with the Skyforce, but apparently it didn’t carry over to his NBA opportunity.
Speaking of which, Miami got an instant payoff as McGruder flew from Los Angeles to Miami Tuesday after getting his Skyforce jones and was ready when called upon. Injuries to Wayne Ellington and Tyler Johnson forced coach Eric Spoelstra to improvise with his lineup and bring McGruder off the bench in the third quarter against Philadelphia. A fourth quarter McGruder conversion from downtown added fuel to the Heat’s fire in beating the 76ers although much of the heavy work was done by D. Wade aka Father Prime.
The Skyforce had won four straight before receiving McGruder on assignment. It would be unfair to categorize that having the 6-4 guard/forward was the key ingredient in both wins in the greater Los Angeles area on Saturday and Monday. Also consider that Larry Drew II and Alonzo Gee were simultaneously playing for the USA team during FIBA Qualifying in Santa Cruz. The added depth with McGruder cannot be summarily dismissed.
In any event, Miami's McGruder moves payed off handsomely in the short term with plenty of time ahead before we assess the viability in the long view.