An Offensive Start To The New Year
The Rio Grande Valley Vipers came out of the gate hot. They were one of the best teams in the league, and were blowing people out, especially at home. Since around Thanksgiving, explosive point guard Isaiah Taylor has been out with an injury. He’s been replaced by the steady, proven Darius Morris.
The schedule got tougher, the team hit some growing pains, and they sometimes lacked the pop on offense to capitalize on their fast tempo attack. Towards the end of 2016, and so far in the two games in 2017, the offense is firing on all cylinders.
RGV topped their rivals, the Austin Spurs, 126-118 behind 28 points from JP Tokoto. They followed that up with a ridiculous offensive output. A season high of 155 was able to outpace the Santa Cruz Warriors and their more-than-respectable 148.
They are at their best when they are running, and distributing the ball. In the win over Santa Cruz, they had 40 assists, and four players scored over 20 points.
The Three Most Venomous Vipers:
Gary Payton II: GP2 is a great athlete, we knew that. He’s been streaky offensively, especially shooting threes. But I don’t think anyone predicted he would rebound as well as he has thus far. He is first on the team in boards, excluding the two Rockets assignees. By the way, he’s a 6’3’’ guard.
J.P. Tokoto: An elite perimeter defender, Tokoto is among the top players in the league with 2.5 steals per game. He consistently attacks the rim, and usually finishes, a previous NBA D-League Dunk Contest participant.
Darius Morris: A lot of teams would have been in trouble losing the type of player Isaiah Taylor was early on this season. Thankfully, the Vipers had an NBA vet ready to take over the lead role. Morris had 29 points and 14 rebounds in the win over the Warriors.
Rental Rockets Report:
Chinanu Onuaku: DNP in either of the last two games
Kyle Wiltjer: He poured in 26 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the win over Santa Cruz.
Notable Upcoming Matchups
1/18 vs. Austin, 1/21 vs. Iowa (NBA TV)
Both of these games will be a part of the 2017 NBA D-League Showcase, held in Mississauga, Ontario.