Every team in every league in the history of the world wants to win. Why compete if that’s not the goal? In the NBA G League, it’s slightly different. Sure, every team wants to win as many games as possible, but there is an extra emphasis on developing the players and staff.
The Northern Arizona Suns didn’t win as many games as they hoped, but it was still a successful year. Why? Because they saw great development across the board, and the development showed in the second half of the season.
“From a development perspective, I’ve been pleased. We’ve seen a couple guys make huge strides,” head coach Bret Burchard said shortly before the season finale. “I think what I’m most proud of is that our team has stuck together through the whole thing. With the record the way it is, the losing streaks, this and that, there were a lot of opportunities for them to give up, to quit, to turn against each other, and it never happened. They stayed together, they worked hard, they continued to play hard trying to do the right things. So, that’s what I’m most proud of for the year.”
The Suns concluded their 2018-19 season with a 12-38 record after starting 3-24. Through those first 27 games, the Suns averaged 98.9 points on 42.9 percent shooting (33.0 percent from distance), 41.2 rebounds 21.5 assists and 17.8 turnovers per game. On Jan. 10, they dropped their 14th straight game. Then it all turned around.
The Suns finished their year going 9-14, averaging 106.6 points on 46.2 percent shooting (35.6 percent from distance), 43.2 rebounds, 24.4 assists and 17.3 turnovers per game. They had a few separate winning streaks, and ended the year with a home W. Several players increased their scoring average between the two time frames, most notably Retin Obasohan, who improved on his 8.2 PPG mark in his first 16 games to 15.8 PPG over his last 17 games.
In October, Burchard said the following: “We’re all about developing our athletes in a whole bunch of ways. It’s not just making shots and working on your ball handling – we want them to be full people and full athletes.” That message never changed, nor did the goal.
Between the play on the court, the professionalism and eagerness to help the community, it’s pretty clear everyone on the team developed during the 2018-19 season.
Stay with www.nazsuns.com over the next two weeks, where we’ll take a specific look at each player’s season.