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Skyforce Coaching Tree Has Strong NBA Roots

Dave Joerger, Memphis Grizzlies
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The players are the ones celebrated most when advancing from the G League to the NBA. Let’s not forget the mentors who helped them get there.

A significant amount of coaching influence in the Association lies with the Sioux Falls Skyforce. No fewer than eight current head or assistant coaches can claim an alliance of some kind with the most storied of G League franchises.

Miami obviously pops to the front of the line considering the affiliation and now part ownership of the team. Three current Heat assistants earned their stripes at the northern bureau.

Dan Craig (2015-16): He piloted the ‘Force to a league 40-10 record and championship in his lone season.
Octavio De La Grana (2013-16): His time with the Skyforce doesn’t stop with being an assistant for three years. Even before the exclusive partnership, Coach O came to Sioux Falls and helped oversee the development of Dexter Pittman.
Chris Quinn (2014-15): The Heat culture has stuck with Quinn. He spent his first four years playing with the Heat and rejoined the organization after taking off the jersey with his first mission to assist with the ‘Force.

One former leading man used Sioux Falls as a launching pad to another NBA locale.

Pat Delany (2013-14): His first head coaching experience took the Skyforce all the way to the second round of the postseason before landing in Charlotte. He’s in his fourth year with the Hornets.

The other four coaches currently in the Association get their due for their grit.

Dave Joeger (2004-06): Winning five titles as a head coach in the IBL, CBA and G League including during his time in Sioux Falls gets you some serious street cred. Since departing Memphis, he’s starting year two as the top man in Sacramento.
Duane Ticknor (2009-11): He did spend two games as interim head coach of the ‘Force, but was mainly an assistant to both Tony Fritz and Mo McHone. Tick has been a confidant of Coach Joeger’s since ’13 as an assistant with the Grizzlies and the Kings.
Nate Tibbets (2005-09): Was both an assistant and head coach with the Skyforce. The Sioux Falls native starts year five in Portland.
Stephen Graham (2005): He holds a distinction as a former Skyforce player to ascend to the NBA coaching ranks. As a rookie Graham had Houston and Chicago offer 10-day contracts before latching onto Cleveland. After his playing days he landed in Fort Wayne as an assistant coach which he parlayed into a player development position in Denver. He begins year two with the Nuggets.

Every one of these coaches has put in the time and traveled the miles to be deserving of the biggest basketball stage.


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