Prospect Watch: Stars Win At Home Vs Energy, 94-87

January 7th, 2017 | by Spencer Wixom
By Spencer Wixom

By Spencer Wixom

The Stars hosted the Energy who had a league-worst record of 2-18 prior to the game, but this team isn’t to be taken lightly because of their record.  The Memphis Grizzlies affiliate team has plenty of talent and has played good teams close all season.  In the end, the Stars won 94-87 behind the heroics of Tyrone Wallace, Marcus Paige, and Joel Bolomboy who combined for 58 points.

The defense from the Stars was stifling at times as they held the Energy to 36.2% shooting from the field and forced 20 turnovers.  The Stars were also able to get to the free throw line 34 times as the Energy committed 27 fouls.  Most impressive was that the Stars were able to hold the two Grizzlies assignment players, Wade Baldwin and Troy Williams, to a combined 11 points on 3-18 shooting.

There were many fun side stories to the game, but the most entertaining moment was learning that Michale Kyser sneaks into the VIP room every game to steal some popcorn.  As we were interviewing Coach Cooper after the game he even walked out with two buckets, one in each hand, and a huge grin on his face.  That’s just Kyser though, every time players are around him they are laughing.  He’s kind of like the Joe Ingles of the Stars.

This game didn’t feature any players that are in the top 25 of the NBA D-League Prospect Watch List, but that is because they do not rank players who are on assignment from the NBA.  There were plenty of talented players to watch in this battle.

Joel Bolomboy, Stars, F

13 Points, 15 Rebound,  3 Assists,  1 Steals,  2 Blocks, 3-9 FG, 1-1 3p, +14 +/-

The Energy don’t have a dominate big on their roster and Bolomboy took advantage of that as he continued to crash the boards at an elite rate.  Bolomboy got to the free throw line nine times, and many of these free throw attempts came from him being overly active and aggressive.

Bolomboy’s basketball IQ continues to improve as he more often than not passes out of the double-team instead of forcing a bad shot.  His defensive awareness is also improving as the Stars gave up very few uncontested points in the paint.  One thing Bolomboy does seem to be working on is his decisiveness with the ball.  At times in the past he has been caught not knowing whether he will shoot or pass, but tonight he seemed to have his mind made up much quicker.  He still passed up some open jump shots that I think he should have pulled the trigger on, but overall I think he is improving in just about ever facet of the game.

Tyrone Wallace, Stars, F

24 Points, 8 Rebound,  4 Assists,  2 Steals,  0 Blocks, 8-17 FG, 1-3 3p, 8 +/-

Wallace was impressive tonight on both ends of the floor.  He had a tough matchup against Baldwin and at times Selden when they switched pick and rolls, but he was able to score by getting into the paint and hitting a floater that he is comfortable with.  Wallace also displayed a pull-up 18-footer, a nice three, and nearly completed what would have been the dunk of the year for the Stars had he not been fouled.  Turnovers have been an issue for Wallace in the past, but he kept them under control with just two.  He seems to be getting a better handle of the system and his role within it.

On defense, this was probably one of the more impressive games we have seen from Wallace.  The stats only show two steals, but he was able to hold the most talented player on the Energy, Baldwin, to just three points on 1-9 shooting.  His combination of size, length, and athleticism make him an intriguing prospect moving forward.

Marcus Paige, Stars, F

21 Points, 4 Rebound,  2 Assists,  2 Steals,  2 Blocks, 7-15 FG, 5-10 3p, 16 +/-

Though my stance on Paige as an NBA hasn’t changed, he has continued to look great as a Star.  Paige took 10 threes tonight and hit five of them.  He moves well without the ball to get open for these looks and is making the defense pay.  Defensively he has begun to pick off more and more passes and get up on the guy he is defending.  On offense, he is playing similarly to how Eric Gordon plays, a smaller SG who also handles the ball at times.

While Gordon is a great player, he is also four inches taller than Paige, which is my concern with him as an NBA prospect.  He is having his success playing off the ball, not as the point guard.  However, if his is going to succeed in the NBA it’s as a point guard, not a guard who is playing off the ball. As I have said before I think Paige may be the smartest player in the D-League, which will lead him to make a lot of money, but it’s likely to be as a coach or scout, not a player.

Diamond Stone, Stars, F

Did Not Play (Left Knee)

Stone did not play because of an issue with his knee, however, before the game, he was showing off his three-point range.  This was pretty impressive for someone who didn’t attempt a single three in college last year.  If you combine any semblance of a three-pointer with his agility and strength, Stone could become one heck of a player.

Wade Baldwin, Energy, G

3 Points, 2 Rebound,  3 Assists,  0 Steals,  0 Blocks, 1-9 FG, 0-2 3p, -34 +/-

Baldwin was easily the most recognizable name in the game as he was the 17th pick in the 2016 draft.  Jazz fans are likely to remember Baldwin well because he was one of the names commonly placed with the Utah Jazz in mock drafts before they traded their pick for George Hill.  Tonight was absolutely Baldwin’s roughest game as a pro.  The length of Wallace bothered him and affected his shot as he went 1-9 from the field and only scored three points.

On defense Baldwin let the guards on the Stars do whatever they wanted to do as Paige and Wallace went a combined 15-32 from the field for 45 points.  The length of Baldwin is still something that will allow him to become a physical force on the defensive end.  I think they had a bad defensive game plan that the Stars exploited.

While Baldwin may have had the worst game of his career, he showed why he is a true professional.  I was writing this article about 30 minutes after every other player had left the arena when Baldwin walked back in with a coach and began running shooting drills.  He pushed himself very hard during these drills and was clearly upset about his previous performance.  The fact he had the grit and grind mentality to put in the work necessary to improve after a frustrating game was really impressive.  Many players would have just called it a night and left, but Baldwin isn’t okay with just being mediocre, he wants to be great.  I think this mentality combined with the physical tools he has will lead him to become a solid NBA player.

Wayne Selden, Energy, G

20 Points, 4 Rebound,  3 Assists,  0 Steals,  1 Blocks, 6-16 FG, 3-7 3p, 9 +/-

Selden is an interesting player as he was once projected to be a first-round draft pick but didn’t declare that season and eventually went undrafted.  Saying Selden is inconsistent is an understatement. At times he appears to be a prolific wing talent, while in other moments he appears pedestrian.  Selden was the most aggressive player for the Energy tonight and late in the game he hit some threes that made it close.  As an athletic wing who can shoot, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Selden get a call-up if a team is looking to take a gamble at the wing position.

Spencer Wixom

Spencer Wixom

Spencer graduated from the University of Utah and works in commercial real estate. Since the first time he saw Stockton dish to Malone, Spencer has had a passion for the Utah Jazz and the NBA. When he isn’t writing about the Jazz, Spencer spends time with his wife and daughter and cheers for the Seattle Seahawks.
Spencer Wixom
Spencer Wixom

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