With the D-League season just around the corner (opening day is this Friday), questions have begun to filter in about how the Phoenix Suns will be using their solo affiliation with the Jam.
The Suns, as you all know, have a lot of young players at the tail end of the rotation, who are unlikely to see much if any playing time on any given night. However, Hornacek does not seem to see this as a particularly serious problem.
When asked if he plans on having guys spend time in Bakersfield, he was somewhat dismissive.
"We want our guys to be around us as much as possible," he said. " So they continue to learn and do our thing."
He went on to discuss how being around the main team and learning from the coaching staff generally is better for the young players than spending long stints in the D-League.
"I think it is being here [where young players belong]. But, there is a point where not playing affects a guys confidence."
At that point, he said, the coaching staff would be open to sending guys to Bakersfield in order to keep their psychological edge. Even in these cases, however, Hornacek does not see these as being long stints with the Jam.
"It is not where we would send them to Bakersfield for prolonged periods. We'll use that as 'Hey, go down there for a couple games, get some minutes and playing time, and we'll get you back here."
In general, Hornack sees the team using the Jam for short stints for the young players. Only "if a guy is playing and doing well down there maybe we leave him for a couple more games."
Hornacek admitted that the rotation minutes for the young guys like Archie Goodwin, T.J. Warren and Tyler Ennis were going to be hard to come by, and said he would be sitting down with GM Ryan McDonough in the near future to have a more in-depth strategic discussion about how to use the Jam.
Jam Win Only Pre-Season Game
In related news, the Jam won their one and only pre-season game yesterday, defeating the LA D-Fenders 105-102.
The team was led by strong performances from veteran Mac Koshwal (21 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 steals) and rookie Xavier Munford (27 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists), who was brought to the team in a draft day trade.
Elijah Millsap, who was acquired just before the draft, loaded up the box score, but was pretty inefficient. He scored 16 points on 6-18 shooting. He added 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals before fouling out.
Jamil Wilson (11 points, 7 rebounds) and Adrian Thomas (10 points on 50% shooting form beyond the arc) also had strong showings.
The D-Fenders were led by the strong play of 4 players: guards Roscoe Smith (19 points, 7 rebounds), Vander Blue (25 points), Naadir Tharpe (9 points, 9 assists); and forward Manny Harris (21 points, 9 rebounds).
The difference in the game was largely the performance of the starters - the D-Fenders' starters combined for only 67 points and 15 turnovers. The Jam starters, in contrast, put up 81 points and only 13 turnovers, while creating 9 turnovers through steals.
The Jam open the season this Friday, November 14th, the Texas Legends. The game will be streamed live on Youtube.