When a team gels and comes together around a common goal, individual statistics usually takes a back seat. But make no mistake: success still follows where it matters most. As NBA and NBA G League executives look to recognize talent and generate opportunities, it’s easy to reward players from a winning environment. After all, racking up the victories is the primary goal at the next level and if players can contribute to such a goal in the minor league, there’s a good chance they’ll do so at the next level as well.
There are many ways for aspiring NBA players to shine, but it takes a steadying force and vocal leader in a coach to help them realize the best way to get there. They all have to buy in, and as they do, it’s the coach who also deserves appreciation. With that in mind as his team soared to new heights this season, Salt Lake City Stars head coach Martin Schiller certainly earned the 2019-20 NBA G League Dennis Johnson Coach of the Year award.
Most of the top accomplishments that stemmed from Salt Lake City this season were team-based. The Stars looked strong with a fourteen game winning streak from November 15 to December 27, winning the 2019 NBA G League Winter Showcase along the way. Such a momentous win netted Schiller’s squad an $100,000 cash prize to share. He went on to earn Coach of the Month honors in December after leading the team to a 9-1 mark.
The Stars spread the statistical wealth, with no one player averaging more than 18.8 points per game this season — that was Two-Way Player Jarrell Brantley. But he did lead six scorers who averaged 9.7 points or more (in at least 23 appearances) and his 7.6 rebounds per game led four players who averaged at least 6 rebounds (with those same 23 appearances or more being the respective benchmark).
As a team, the Stars ranked second in the NBA G League in points allowed (106.1) and fourth in defensive rating (105.0). They held opponents to the third-lowest field goal percentage (44.5) and the lowest three-point field goal percentage (31.4). On offense, Salt Lake City ranked third in the NBA G League in both field goal percentage (48.0) and three-point field goal percentage (36.8).
Sometimes it’s difficult to keep a team focused with players going back and forth between the NBA G League and NBA on a nightly basis. Schiller embraced frequent Jazz assignees Juwan Morgan, Nigel Williams-Goss and Miye Oni into his overall game plan rather seamlessly and made sure they made positive contributions, while also keeping the development of all other prospects in the forefront as well.
With a 30-12 overall record, the Stars skyrocketed to the top of the Western Conference standings this season. But with all the different variables an NBA G League team has to account for over the course of a campaign, Schiller proved to be the glue that kept everything together. He prioritized winning and found ways for his players to grow within a very healthy and competitive environment.