Going to Salt Lake City Stars Media Day, I was excited to learn more about a league that continues to grow in talent and value with NBA teams. The G-League’s purpose, even though it’s a competitive league, is to develop players and coaches to reach their goals.
Knowing this, I was interested to see what mindset the team and coaches had. Are they all in? What is their relationship with the Utah Jazz and how much focus do they have on winning games versus developing?
Here are three things that impressed me about the players and coaches that show the Stars will continue to be a great development team.
One of the largest humans you’ll meet is 7’2” Isaac Haas. But as big as he is, his personality might be bigger. Coming into the media room, Haas had a presence. Whether it was flexing in his new Stars uniform or smiling for the camera, Haas grabs your attention.
When you consider the diverse personalities in the Utah Jazz locker room, it’s easy to see how he could fit right in with the positive culture. On top of a big personality, Haas took pride in being an open and honest guy and that he believes that will help both himself and the team.
When asked what he could improve on. Haas mentioned the Jazz asking him to improve by running down the court, affecting shots at the rim and just making it difficult for opposing players to score.
Seeing Haas openness and honesty, it’s clear that he’ll be a hard worker for the Stars all season and should improve individually as a player.
One of the fun moments during interviews was when Isaiah Cousins took control of the interviews and asked Naz-Mitrou Long the tough questions.
All in all, the entire group of players looked like they’ll enjoy each other’s company. That can only help them as they work to win more games with the Stars and improve their individual games.
One of the things that Stars Head Coach, Martin Schiller, talked about was the Stars focus on bringing in “high character guys ... willing to work.”
A player that embodied that high character was Naz Mitrou-Long. When asked what he’s hoping to improve on this year, he talked about wanting to be more consistent and efficient but to also play the right way. He talked about how some teams talk about good culture, but the Jazz actually live it.
When he was asked about his close friend, Georges Niang, he mentioned how happy he is for him and “that it’s a credit to his hard work.”
The Stars/Jazz organization might be a big part of that as well. Mitrou-Long said that hard work “pays dividends” with the organization.
The work that the Stars and Jazz are doing with player development is obviously appreciated by the players. And those with high character seem to be thriving and happy to play for the team.
Talking with head coach, Martin Schiller, it’s clear how much he cares about helping the players improve their games to help them reach their goals.
But it’s not just him. Multiple players mentioned the work done with Quin Snyder as well in practices and training camp. The Jazz are clearly leaving no stone unturned in their quest to find the best talent possible. And when they find talented, high character players with work ethic, they are working with them to improve specific parts of their games to take them to the next level.
For example, when asked about Naz Mitrou-Long, Schiller mentioned specific things he wants to improve in his game. “If he wants to make an NBA team he has to be a killer on open shots.” He also mentioned things he’s seen from Naz that he’s very happy about. He specifically mentioned his pick and roll play which he said has “developed unbelievably.”
The Utah Jazz are becoming well known for their ability to develop players and it’s clear that starts with the Salt Lake City Stars.
This season it will be fun to see if the Stars can improve their record from last season while helping the players become more NBA ready.