After dropping their opening 2 games of the season, to the Sioux Falls Skyforce and the Iowa Wolves, the Salt Lake City Stars have been a force to be reckoned with. The Stars are the G League affiliate of the Utah Jazz.
Following their rough start to the season, the Stars edged past the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, 125-124. They haven’t looked back since.
A 14-game win-streak commenced, which shot the team to a 14-2 record. Salt Lake City have experienced short losing streaks since, but have bounced back each time. The longest losing streak being 3 at the end of January/early February.
At the time of the COVID-19 suspension, the team were experiencing a 6-game win-streak. Which propelled them to a 30-12 record. Whilst sitting atop of the Western Conference, by 3.5 games. 6 games clear of their nearest divisional rival, the Austin Spurs. Postseason action had already been clinched.
Two-way stars, Jarrell Brantley (F) and Justin Wright-Foreman (G) are leading the way for the Stars. Brantley is leading the team in scoring with 18.8 points per game, on 51.2% shooting. The 23-year-old is also recording averages of 7.6 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 1.4 steals. Whilst Wright-Foreman is posting averages of 17.3 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1.5 steals. Whilst shooting at an impressive 40.3% rate from downtown.
Both have received time in the NBA with the Jazz as part of their contracts too. Brantley has played in 5 games and Wright-Foreman has played in 1.
Most impressively, there are another 6 players averaging over 10 points per game. Those being Nigel Williams-Goss, Trevon Bluiett, Juwan Morgan, William Howard (now of the Houston Rockets), Miye Oni, and Willie Reed. Kyle Collinsworth, Mike Scott, and Paul White are close behind with 9.7 points, 9.7 points, and 9.3 points, respectively.
Jazz player, and former Wisconsin Herd star, Rayjon Tucker has played for the team on assignment too. In 3 games, with averages of 20.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1.7 steals.
The widespread scoring shows the Stars’ emphasis on team basketball. In addition, 8 players are averaging over 5 rebounds and 5 players are posting 3+ assists per game.
In team points (19th), rebounds (19th), assists (20th), blocks (23rd), steals (17th), Salt Lake City sits in the bottom half of the league. Although, in field goals (48%) the team sits 3rd. Additionally, in 3-point percentage, the team sit 3rd also (36.8%).
When it comes down to scoring, the Stars are very efficient. Which appears to be their winning formula. That and their defensive rating of 105. Along with their ability to crash the defensive boards 72% of the time. Both are good for 5th best in the G League.
Talent On-And-Off the Court:
The team is packed with talent, with Juwan Morgan, Miye Oni, and Rayjon Tucker all being on the Utah Jazz’s NBA roster, as G League assignments. Along with Jarrell Brantley and Justin Foreman-Wright as being their two-way options.
But with this, the team constantly chops and changes. With players going up and down. A challenge that almost every G League team experiences. For the Stars to stay consistent throughout the season is impressive.
A lot of the credit falls with the team’s coaching staff. Austrian Head Coach Martin Schiller has extensive experience overseas, in Germany. Before taking the position in 2017 with the Stars. Additionally, he is juggling duties as an Assistant Coach for Germany’s national team. A position that he holds alongside Jazz Assistant Coach Alex Jensen.
Before last season, the Salt Lake City Stars’ last winning season came way back in the 2008/09 season. The 2018/19 campaign ended with a 1st round defeat to the Oklahoma City Blue. However, it appears that this season the Stars were set for more. A deep postseason run would have been the expectation prior to the suspension.
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