That starting guard for the defending NBA champions you’ve (likely) never heard of? A year ago, he was playing for the eventual D-League champions.
Yes, DeAndre Liggins has re-established himself as an NBA role player at 28 years old. His journey to starting alongside — and earning high praise from — LeBron James included three seasons in the NBA Development League, the last two of which (2013-14 & 2015-16) ended with him capturing Defensive Player of the Year honors.
Last April, he celebrated in Sioux Falls, S.D., as an NBA D-League champion with the Sioux Falls Skyforce, affiliate of the Miami Heat.
“This is my goal, from training camp on. It’s everybody’s goal, to get to this point. And we’re here. I’ve been around a great group of guys all year. We have a lot of characters, a lot of guys who are funny, a mix of personalities. I’m kind of sad that this [was] our last game, but I’m happy at the same time. Last year was my first year overseas. Everything was new to me and I wasn’t comfortable. So I decided to come back to the D-League to get closer to the @NBA. I feel like I’m an NBA player, so that’s what drew me back.” 💭 DeAndre Liggins #DLeagueChamps #ThisIsWhyWePlay
A 2011 second-round draft pick of the Magic, he previously played 17 games with Orlando in 2011-12, 39 games with the Thunder in 2012-13, and one game with the Heat in 2014.
The Cavs signed him in September and by December he was an injury replacement in their starting lineup. On Dec. 9, the Heat presented him with his NBA D-League championship ring before their game in Cleveland.
The #ForceFamily is well represented in Cleveland tonight!
Liggins was presented with his championship ring prior to the HEAT/Cavs game. pic.twitter.com/72xkXLJ6xm
— Sioux Falls Skyforce (@SFSkyforce) December 9, 2016
More on Liggins from around the web:
NBA.com: Liggins Makes Most of Second Chance
“I’ve got to be ready, with my feet set, hands ready, and knock the shots down,” Liggins said. “I’m gonna be open. Our offense is just be ready to knock shots down, miss or make, and live with the results. My thing is, I put the work in. So I can live with the results, miss or make.”
SI.com: Liggins An Unlikely X-Factor
“He’s a workhorse, man. I love him,” Durant began. “You can tell he’s a guy that’s tough and has been that way his whole life. You can just tell by how he plays that he’s been working from the bottom to get to the top his whole life. People have counted him out, I’m sure, but he continues to keep beating the odds.”
Cleveland.com: LeBron Calls Liggins A ‘Diamond in the Rough’