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Taylorsville Journal

Salt Lake City Stars in playoff hunt

Mar 06, 2019 12:19PM ● By Greg James

By Greg James | [email protected] 

The Salt Lake City Stars enter the final month of their season in a dog-fight for a playoff spot. It could come down to the final home games of the year. The NBA’s next generation of superstars could be playing in your backyard.

The Stars are the National Basketball Association’s G league associate of the Utah Jazz. They play in the Western Conference Southwest Division and at press time stand in second place and seventh in the conference. 

“Little things like that, that young players can’t get with a parent club is where the G League is key,” Jazz General Manager Dennis Lindsay said in a radio interview. “Grayson Allen is working on his footwork and has accepted the assignments to come and learn to play better with the Stars.”

Allen has played six games with the Stars in this his rookie season in the NBA. He was the first round draft pick of the Jazz last summer from Duke. 

The Stars have a 17-18 overall record. They have only won one of their last four games including a 102-78 blowout of Santa Cruz Feb. 8 at Vivint Smart Home Arena on Education night. Despite the dip recently they have hovered around a .500 record most of the season. 

They have played three games this season at the home of the Jazz, but the rest of their home games are held at the Lifetime Activities Center on the campus of Salt Lake Community College. The team was founded in 2016 when they moved from Boise, Idaho. 

Willie Reed is the team's leading scorer. He is averaging 20.1 points per game. He has seen limited time recently because of an injury. He has spent parts of the last four seasons with five different NBA teams. 

NBA teams are allowed to have two players with two-way contracts. Those players spend the majority of the season on the affiliate G League team and not more than 45 days on the NBA roster.

Stars players with two-way contracts include Naz Mitrou-Long and Tyler Cavanaugh. 

Mitrou-Long is a 6-foot-4-inch guard from Iowa State. He is averaging 16.9 points per game and 5.5 assists. The athletic floor general has helped run an efficient Stars offense this season.

Cavanaugh stands 6-foot-9 and weighs 238 pounds. He played collegiately at George Washington University. He has the ability to spread the floor with an improved three-point shot and deadly offensive rebounding skills. He is averaging 15.9 points per game.

The Stars are coached by Martin Schiller. He is in his second season as the head man. They ended last season with a 16-34 record, but wins and losses are not the team’s main concern. It is about using the G League pipeline to ready players for the NBA and Utah Jazz.

The G League is the NBA’s official minor league. It prepares players, coaches, officials, trainers and front office personnel for the NBA. It also functions as a league research and development laboratory. It features 27 teams all with one-to-one affiliations with a NBA franchise. In 2017 the NBA development league was renamed the G league with a corporate sponsorship with Gatorade.

NBA teams began the 2018–19 season with 198 former G League player on their start-of-season rosters. This includes current Jazzman Rudy Gobert. That figure has more than doubled in the last six seasons.

Friday, March 1 will be Donovan Mitchell bobblehead night. That game will be the beginning of a four of five stretch of home games, concluding March 4, 6 and 8. 

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