NAZ Suns finding their footing to start 2018-19 campaign

Nov 20, 2018, 6:08 AM | Updated: 8:38 am

PRESCOTT VALLEY, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona Suns entered the 2018-19 regular season with four returning players and no affiliate players, a rarity in the NBA G League. The work the team did on draft day has set the potential for great things to come from this squad, even though the team is still finding its footing.

The Suns sit at 2-5 to start the year, but all seven games have come against very tough opponents. Three of the losses came against the undefeated Santa Cruz Warriors, with the other two against the 7-1 Sioux Falls Skyforce and defending champion Austin Spurs.

With head coach Bret Burchard leading the team for the first time, it’s clear the Suns are looking to get it done with their defense, as they’re giving up the 10th fewest points per game (107.4). On offense, the Suns are looking to slow it down and get quality possessions on each trip, but turnovers have proved costly so far, where they’re tied for 22nd in the league turning it over 19.6 times per game.

The Phoenix Suns have taken advantage of having their minor league affiliate so close, assigning De’Anthony Melton and Elie Okobo three times combined through the first two weeks. Both guys are back with Phoenix, but not before doing some damage in Prescott Valley.

Melton averaged 18.0 points, 7.3 assists and 7.0 rebounds in four games with the NAZ Suns, including a 19-point, 15-assist, 8-rebound game at the Iowa Wolves on Nov. 6.

Okobo played two games for NAZ and earned a double-double right out of the gate with 15 points and 10 assists. Through both contests, he averaged 18.5 points, 9.0 assists and 5.5 rebounds.

The big season highlight came on Friday night, as George King sent the fans home happy by hitting a three-pointer as time expired to lift the Suns to a win.

The Phoenix Suns two-way forward is averaging 16.3 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists in 35.4 minutes per game. King said the game-winner was the first of his career, counting professional, college and the prep level.

The Suns will take on the Salt Lake City Stars at home on Tuesday before getting a post-Thanksgiving back-to-back road set on Friday and Saturday.

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