The word “Hidalgo” in Spanish is a term of nobility, although in later years it has been adopted somewhat informally. The Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the NBA D-League play in Hidalgo, Texas, which is, almost quite literally, a 3-pointer away from the Mexican border.
Former Ram Troy Daniels’ career with the Vipers, the D-League affiliate of the Houston Rockets, is just five games old, but he’s already playing in a way that should merit some type of designation of nobility, or at least a gift certificate to El Torito over on Jackson St. If we elect for the former, we’d have something like, Hidalgo de la Canasta de Tres Puntos (forgive my butchered Spanish).
In five games, Daniels, a walking NBA Jam trope during his final two seasons at VCU, is averaging 25.0 points and shooting 53 percent (33-of-62) from 3-point range. Yes, in five games, Daniels – who once hit 11 triples in a game at East Tennessee State in college – has hit 33 treys. Last night, in a 153(yes, 153)-109 win over Delaware, Daniels hit 6-of-10 threes in 21 minutes. The night before, he bombed 7-of-12 from beyond the arc in just 24 minutes. Daniels hit six of those threes in one nine-minute stretch.
Part of this is by design. The Rockets lead the NBA in 3-point attempts this year. Rockets’ General Manager Daryl Morey among a vanguard of league executives who have bought into the advanced statistics movement. I’m not going to bore you with the minutiae of that movement, other than to stress the importance placed on 3-point shooting. The simple answer is that 3-pointers are worth more than 2-pointers, and work from there. It’s likely why Houston took an interest in Daniels from the outset.
By extension, the Vipers are an absolute bomb squad. This season, they’re AVERAGING 47 attempts from three per game. Two nights ago, they hit a D-League record 24 threes. Last night, 23 more. Leading the charge has been Daniels, a man who took 85 percent (650-of-764) of his field goals attempts from beyond the arc while at VCU.
If he keeps shooting the eyes out, teams will have to notice Daniels. You can be sure Morey has been kept abreast of Rio Grande Valley’s shooting exhibition. While any NBA team could put in a claim on Daniels if they so chose, Houston will keep close tabs. It’s only five games and no NBA general manager (okay, maybe the Knicks) would go out on a limb over a five-game hot streak. Last season’s D-League leader in 3-pointers (152) and 3-point percentage (.437), Andy Rautins, is playing in Germany this season. But the sheer improbability of Daniels’ five-game eruption deserves their attention. If Daniels maintains anything close, he can set his ring tone to the NBA on NBC theme song. Troy Daniels, Hidalgo de la Canasta de Tres Puntos.