Skyforce Post Season Awards List Grows Longer with Stokes Winning MVP
A team effort has gotten Sioux Falls Skyforce to the brink of a championship. The best of the best is getting his due.
On Thursday, Skyforce forward Jarnell Stokes was named the 2015-16 NBA Development League Most Valuable Player in a vote by the league’s 19 head coaches.
The players who have heavily influenced their team’s results during the NBADL regular season are still pursuing their goal of a championship.
The forward from Tennessee joins teammate DeAndre Liggins with his Defensive Player of the Year award and Canton’s Quinn Cook as the Rookie of the Year honoree.
Stokes’ road to Sioux Falls began with a trade from the Memphis Grizzlies to the Miami Heat that included Beno Udrih in exchange for Mario Chalmers and James Ennis. The Heat assigned Stokes to Sioux Falls with the move paying immediate dividends as the Skyforce won 6 straight games. In total, Stokes was assigned 6 times from November 24 to February 15 with the ‘Force rambling to a 14-2 mark during those appearances.
However Miami in moves designed to clear space under the salary cap, sent Stokes to New Orleans for a conditional second round choice in the 2018 NBA Draft. The Pelicans subsequently cut Stokes making him a free agent to be signed by any team in the Association if so desired. There were no takers.
The next move helped pave the way for this record-setting season in Sioux Falls with a title still within reach. Stokes decided to enter the NBA Development League. Because of a rule stipulating that if a player has spent 10 games with one NBADL team on assignment, the Skyforce were the first team in line to be eligible for his services.
Since returning to Sioux Falls in early March, nine straight wins and a 10-2 mark over the final month of the season was the direct result of Stokes’ influence. The numbers are plenty stout including team highs of 20.6 points and 9.3 rebounds tops in the NBADL in field goal percentage at 66 percent, double figure scoring in all but one of his games and 13 double-doubles.
He was named the NBA D-League Player of the Week on Jan. 4 and earned Player of the Month honors for March and April. Stokes was chosen to play in the D-League All-Star Game and on the All D-League Showcase Second Team.
Accolades aside, in an interview with Ryan Heuer of the Argus Leader Stokes clearly stated his mindset as to why he returned to Sioux Falls. “I had a couple overseas offers. I had a Puerto Rican offer that kind of sparked my interest. But I knew from the get-go that if I wasn’t playing in the NBA, I wanted to finish out what I had done (in Sioux Falls).”
With the award, Stokes becomes the second NBADL MVP in franchise history. Kasib Powell’s stellar season in 2007-08 for the Skyforce being the other.
Stokes will be presented with the NBA D-League MVP Trophy and Liggins will receive his Defensive Player of the Year Award prior to the team’s Eastern Conference Finals game against the Charge on Sunday, April 17 in Sioux Falls which will begin at 5:00 PM at the Sanford Pentagon.