10th Season Tip Off In South Texas
The Houston Rockets hybrid affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, are beginning their 10th season, hosting the Reno Bighorns on this Sunday, Nov. 13. The Bighorns, owned by the Sacramento Kings, have twice been eliminated from the NBA D-League playoffs by the Vipers.
The 2016-17 version of the Bighorns features the all-time leading scoring in the D-League, Renaldo Major. Another capable offensive threat is Reggie Hearn, the team’s top returning scorer, averaging 11.5 in 2015-16. The Vipers will counter with a young roster loaded with potential. Isaiah Taylor will be making his professional debut, after a stellar career as a Texas Longhorn. A much more slender Joshua Smith will provide a low post option for the Vipers. Rookie Gary Payton II and 2015 D-League dunk contest champion Jarvis Threatt are both known for their high-flying dunks.
These teams combined for 239 points per game in 2015-16, so defense may be scarce Sunday night. The first game of the year rust will likely be the biggest hindrance to either team’s scoring.
Player To Watch:
Reno’s Renaldo Major: The leading scorer in D-League history, Major will look to bring his experience, and offense attack to a Reno team that led the D-League in points per game last year, but doesn’t return a top 5 scorer.
RGV’s Isaiah Taylor: Taylor was a leader for Shaka Smart’s Longhorns in 2015, and he will try to assert himself as the lead point guard for Matt Brase’s Vipers. He is explosive to the basket, and is not afraid to get his teammates involved.
Fun Fang Facts
The Glove and Reign Man Part Two: For the first time as professionals, Gary Payton Jr. and Shawn Kemp Jr. will face off. Their dads formed one of the NBA’s greatest duos ever during the ‘90s with the Seattle SuperSonics.
Globetrotter Guys: Joseph Blair, an RGV assistant, and Reno head coach Darrick Martin both spent time in their playing careers with the show-stopping Harlem Globetrotters.
Player Personnel Peja: Retired NBA three point shooting legend Peja Stojaković is the directer of player personnel for the Kings, and the GM of the Bighorns.