Suns' Garrett Unphased by Zombiefield
It is often said that art imitates life. For Suns point guard Diante Garrett, who has recently become obsessed with the zombie TV show “Walking Dead,” life was certainly starting to feel that way for him.
After spending his first NBA season in Phoenix, making his Suns debut against the World Champion Miami Heat and enjoying the amenities that the big leagues has to offer, Garrett was assigned to the D-League’s Bakersfield Jam to receive some extended playing time. At the end of his days in Bakersfield, Garrett would stare out of his hotel window and would wonder to himself, "Is this where 'Walking Dead' took place?"
“It’s so dead,” the first-year guard said. “Nobody was walking around or anything.”
Garrett soon realized that Bakersfield wasn’t a destination ripe with distraction. It was a place meant for him to hone his skills as an NBA point guard.
Besides showering and sleeping in the hotel, Garrett spent almost his entire day at the gym. There was practice and watching film in the morning, more shooting and film in the afternoon and even more video and studying the scouting report at night.
The amount of film screened in the D-League is even greater than what is watched in the NBA. The first video session is used so the players can learn their opponents' tendencies, the second session is used to break down plays and the third session is of the last time the two teams met.
However, the main benefit for Garrett’s time in the D-League was the bevy of playing time he received. In the seven games he appeared in, the former Iowa St. guard started five, leading his team to a 6-1 record.
Originally assigned to the Suns' D-League affiliate on January 10, the 6-4, 175-pound guard averaged 15.1 points, 7.4 assists and 1.7 steals, powering the Jam to a season-best six-game win streak. Garrett shot 46 percent from the field and 63 percent from three-point range.
In fact, Garrett reached double figures in scoring in six of seven games, including a 22-point outing against Reno on January 26. He also dished out six or more assists in six of seven games, including two double-digit assist efforts.
“I had a lot of fun getting the chance to actually play in the games and I learned a lot out there,” Garrett said. “I learned what to do and what not to do as a point guard. And I learned more about time management (in the game).”
Although Garrett played shooting guard occasionally, most of his time was spent at point guard, especially with the Jam’s usual point guard injured. Garrett has been a nice surprise for the Suns, who earned his way onto the team after a stellar training camp.
But when he was in Bakersfield, he was another player working on his game.
“They look at me sometimes as the guy that’s in the NBA," he said. "But I was regular down there. I talked to everybody and didn’t big-time anybody.”
So while he traded in his catered meals for hotel breakfasts and fast food, Garrett played like an NBA player in the D-League. And while his surroundings may have felt like the “Walking Dead” to him, his pure focus towards developing as a point guard may have been why his game came alive.
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