The NBA G League preaches development more than anything else, even above winning. Northern Arizona Suns guard/forward Trayvon Palmer is a perfect example of a player making the most of his time in the league.
Palmer made big strides year-over-year from 2018-19 to 2019-20. Not only did he improve his scoring and rebounding by wide margins, his efficiency was off the charts better than before. In 2019-20, he averaged 8.6 points on 48.4 percent shooting, 38.0 percent from distance, and 5.5 rebounds in 32 games, earning 24 starts. In 2018-19 for the Suns, he averaged 6.4 points on 40.5 percent shooting, 25.3 percent from downtown, and 4.0 rebounds in 33 games.
Palmer played the “3” spot most of the year, showcasing an ability to drive to the basket, cut to the paint as well as anyone, knock it down from deep in catch-and-shoot situations, and crash the boards. Palmer had a knack for knowing where he needed to be on the floor and for knowing where the ball would end up on a miss, as he averaged the second most offensive rebounds (1.9 per) on the Suns and the fourth most defensive (3.6 per). His 5.5 RPG was fourth best on the team.
— NAZ Suns (@nazsuns) July 22, 2020
In 2018-19, Palmer proved to the Suns early that he was a good rebounder, but never really provided a scoring punch, earning 10+ points just twice in his first 12 games. He finished with 10 double-digit scoring games with NAZ. It was a different story for the first half of his 2019-20 campaign, with Palmer achieving 10 double-digit scoring games by Jan. 18, in the 17th game of the season.
He was poised to be a big part of the Suns to begin 2019-20, where in the third game of the season he recorded 14 points, 14 rebounds and three steals. In the next game, at Santa Cruz on Nov. 21, he notched five points, four steals and a block in the first quarter alone, but unfortunately a right leg injury sidelined him from the second quarter on through Dec. 13. Palmer worked his way back, and by Dec. 28, he was back to the top of his game, beginning a career-long seven-game stretch of scoring in double figures. Over that span, he averaged 14.3 points (55.1 FG%, 40.0 3PT%, 100 FT%) and 6.9 rebounds, earning two double-doubles.
On Jan. 25 at Agua Caliente, Palmer had a career-best performance, scoring a career-high 24 points on 10-of-15 shooting (2-4 3PT, 1-1 FT) to go with 13 rebounds. It was one of three 20+ point games for the Chicago State alum.
Palmer’s scoring tapered off toward the end of the season, but his rebounding did not. Double-digit rebounding games were common, including a 0-point, 10-rebound performance on Feb. 8 vs. ACC. He was one of two players in the NBA G League to grab 10+ rebounds without scoring a point in a game in 2019-20, joining Maine’s John Bohannon.
Overall for the Suns, Palmer had the tied-second-most double-doubles on the team with five, and finished with the best plus-minus average among Suns who played at least four games.
Palmer was used to big numbers with his time at Chicago State and his first professional season with the Worcester Wolves in the British Basketball League. If he stays on the path of improving with the Suns, he’ll soon see those consistent big numbers in the NBA G League.