Stars enjoying successful season
Feb 17, 2020 02:47PM
● By Greg James
The G League is designed to help players find spots on the NBA. Former Stars player Naz Long is now with the Indiana Pacers. (Photo courtesy of NBAE.)
By Greg James | [email protected]
The Salt Lake City Stars are flirting with first place.
At the midway point of the season, the Stars found themselves firmly in second place (as of Jan. 23) in the G Leagues Western Conference. They rattled off 13 consecutive victories at one point this season, which included a first-place finish in the G League showcase.
The Winter showcase (held in Las Vegas in December) is an in-season tournament. The NBA used the showcase as a scouting combine. All 30 NBA teams attended to evaluate players and personnel. This was the first-ever league showcase, an NBA experimental event. The NBA uses the G League to try out possible rule changes. There has been debate in the league about having an in-season NBA tournament.
As winners of the winter showcase the Stars were awarded the $100,000 prize money to be divided among the team. The championship game went to overtime, before the Stars came out with a 91-88 victory. The Stars led by as many as 18 points. The Grand Rapids Drive, Detroit Pistons affiliate, tied the game with less than two minutes remaining to force overtime.
Stars head coach Martin Schiller was named G League coach of the month for December. His team compiled a 9-1 record over that time. He is the first Stars coach to win the honor since the team moved to Taylorsville in 2016.
Schiller is in his third season as the Stars head coach.
The Stars have had two players earn NBA team spots for limited contracts, Juan Morgan (Utah Jazz) and William Howard (Houston Rockets). The G League is a developmental league, and a majority of players are under league contracts. They could be signed at any time to join an NBA team.
Jarrell Brantley leads the team in scoring at 18.3 points per game. The 6-foot-5 forward, who played at College of Charleston, also averages 7.2 rebounds per game.
The Stars also feature a local collegiate product in Kyle Collinsworth from BYU. He was undrafted by the NBA but has averaged nine points a game this season. Another top player on the team is former Gonzaga star Nigel Williams-Goss
The Stars’ home game on Friday, Jan. 31 will feature a Mike Conley bobblehead give away. The bobblehead features a combination of Utah winter sports skiing and the Utah Jazz. A special Stars ticket package is available for the game which will include the collectible.
All home games at the Salt Lake Community College Bruin Arena feature bounce houses, face-painting and balloon artists in the kids’ zone.
The Stars are owned and operated by the Utah Jazz. The team was relocated from Boise in 2016 when the Jazz purchased the team. The G League is the NBA’s official minor leagues. It is designed to prepare players, coaches, officials, trainers and front-office staff for the NBA while acting as the league's research and development laboratory.