Northern Arizona Suns

Last updated
Northern Arizona Suns
Northern Arizona Suns logo.svg
League NBA G League
HistoryLong Beach Jam
ABA: 2003–2005
Bakersfield Jam
D-League: 2006–2016
Northern Arizona Suns
Arena Findlay Toyota Center
Location Prescott Valley, Arizona
Team colorsPurple, orange, black, gray [1] [2] [3]
General managerJeff Feld [4]
Head coachBret Burchard
Ownership Phoenix Suns
Affiliation(s) Phoenix Suns
ChampionshipsABA:1 (2004)
D-League/G League:0
Division/Conference titlesABA:1 (2004)
D-League/G League:1 (2013)

The Northern Arizona Suns are an NBA G League team based in Prescott Valley, Arizona and the minor league affiliate of the Phoenix Suns. The franchise began as the Long Beach Jam in 2003 under the revived American Basketball Association and moved to Bakersfield in the D-League in 2006 as the Bakersfield Jam; after 10 years in Bakersfield, California, the franchise was moved to Prescott Valley in 2016 by the Phoenix Suns and were subsequently renamed the Northern Arizona Suns.



Long Beach Jam (2003–2005)

During the year-long hiatus that the American Basketball Association had in the 2002–03 season, one of the teams the league approved of would be the Long Beach Jam. In the team's inaugural season, the Jam managed to procure NBA Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman, fellow veteran Corey Gaines, up-and-coming player Matt Barnes, and Japanese point guard Yuta Tabuse on their squad. They also got former NBA Finals winning head coach Paul Westhead during the start of the season, but he managed to procure himself an assistant coach gig with the Orlando Magic after their first game of the season. Nevertheless, with the presence of players like Rodman, Gaines and Tabuse under new head coach Earl Cureton, the Jam would hold a 24–7 record. It was not only considered the best record of the league that season, but also gave the Jam a bye all the way into the Finals, where they competed against the winner of the Kansas City Knights (the previous champions of the ABA) and the Juárez Gallos. In the championship round, the Jam barely escaped against the Knights to win the ABA Championship with a final score of 126–123.

In their second and final season under the Long Beach name, the Jam began their season under a pedestrian 8–6 record with another NBA Hall of Famer, this time Nate "Tiny" Archibald, leading the way as head coach during the first half of the 2004–05 season. On January 17, 2005, Archibald resigned from his position as head coach and had former player and future head coach of the Phoenix Mercury, Corey Gaines, assigned as their new head coach during the second half of their season. In that season, they managed to produce an 18–10 record in a greatly expanded ABA, with Gaines improving the team with a 10-4 second half during that season, which produced them with the second-best record in the Red Division. The Jam competed in the playoffs and made it to the quarterfinals, where they lost 130–115 to the Utah Snowbears (who produced a 25–1 that season), who would surprisingly end up forfeiting their last match to the Bellevue Blackhawks (potentially due to sunk costs with the team) since the Snowbears folded soon afterwards, while Bellevue lost the championship match to the Arkansas RimRockers. After the end of that season, the Jam withdrew from the 2005–06 ABA season to move to the NBA Development League the following season, with the intent to also move to Bakersfield soon afterwards. [5]

Bakersfield Jam (2006–2016)

After their first season in Bakersfield ended in 2007, there was a contest where the fans could decide on a new name for the team. The choices were to rename the team Desperados, Roughnecks, Oilers, or keep the name Jam. On May 17, the team announced that the team will remain the Bakersfield Jam, as that name won the poll in a landslide vote. [6]

The team played at Rabobank Arena until 2009 and later at the Jam Events Center.

On April 29, 2009, it was reported that the Jam had ceased operations, citing lack of sufficient fan attendance. However, on June 18, the Jam announced that they had not shut down and plan to play in the 2009–10 season, with further details to come the following day. [7]

On April 30, 2014, it was reported that the Jam would enter a hybrid operation with the Phoenix Suns. Not only would that lead to the Suns having exclusive collaborations with the team, but it would also allow the Jam to operate under their own management in the process. On May 9, it was confirmed that the Suns and the Jam would agree to working under a hybrid affiliation. [8] Four days later, the Jam completed their transition by allowing Suns scout Bubba Barrage to be the team's newest general manager and letting Nate Bjorkgren coach the Jam in place of Will Voigt. [9] Since the Dignity Health Event Center seated only 500, the team did not sell individual general admission tickets and were sold to season ticket holders only.

On May 29, 2015, it was announced that Nate Bjorkgren would leave the Jam to take part in the Suns' organization as a leading player development and assistant coach. [10] Three months later, former NBA coach Chris Jent would be the newest head coach for the Jam.

Move to Prescott Valley

On April 12, 2016, the Phoenix Suns announced that the organization had officially purchased the Jam and were relocating the franchise to the town of Prescott Valley, Arizona, for the 2016–17 season and became the Northern Arizona Suns. [11] In response, the previous owners of the Jam franchise, Stan Ellis and David Higdon, announced that they have been working with the D-League in securing a new franchise and affiliation before the 2016–17 season, although it did not come to fruition. [12] On May 2, it was announced that former Arizona Sundogs and current Arizona Rattlers president, Chris Presson, would become the new team president for the Suns. The new team logo and jerseys for Northern Arizona was officially unveiled on May 11 [13] [14] and the front office personnel and coaching staff were announced on August 16. [15] During their first season as the Northern Arizona Suns, the team started out the season strong, entering with a 10–1 record. However, the Suns would enter a major losing streak after having Tyler Ulis and Alan Williams briefly play for them via assignment, and would ultimately not recover from it afterward.

In the 2017 offseason, the D-League rebranded as the NBA G League. On October 20, 2017, the Suns had assistant general manager Louis Lehman take over general manager duties for the Northern Arizona Suns, while previous general manager Bubba Barrage remained in Phoenix as director of player personnel. [16] Three days later, head coach Tyrone Ellis became an assistant coach for Phoenix leaving assistant coach Tyler Gatlin as the interim head coach during the G League preseason. [17] Cody Toppert was named the head coach just prior to the start of the season. [18] The team finished the season with a 23–27 record and missed the playoffs. At the end of the season, head coach Toppert was promoted to an assistant coaching position in Phoenix. [19] He would be replaced by former Northern Arizona Suns assistant and Phoenix Suns' assistant coach Bret Burchard. [20]

Season-by-season record

SeasonLeagueDivision/ConferenceFinishWinsLossesPct.Postseason results
Long Beach Jam
2003–04 ABA 1st247.774Won ABA Championship (Kansas City) 126–123
2004–05ABARed2nd1810.643Won ABA Quarterfinals (Las Vegas) 148–126
Lost ABA Semifinals (Utah Snowbears) 115–130
2005–06Suspended operations for D-League application
Bakersfield Jam
2006–07 D-League Western6th1931.380
2008–09D-LeagueWestern3rd2624.520Lost Round 1 (Utah Flash) 0–1 (81–94)
2010–11D-LeagueWestern4th2921.580Lost Round 1 (Rio Grande Valley) 1–2
2011–12D-LeagueWestern3rd2822.560Won Round 1 (Dakota) 2–0
Lost Semifinals (Los Angeles) 0–2
2012–13D-LeagueWestern1st3614.720Lost Round 1 (Austin) 0–2
2014–15D-LeagueWestern2nd3416.680Lost Round 1 (Austin) 1–2
Northern Arizona Suns
2017–18 G League Pacific4th2327.460
2018–19 G LeaguePacific5th1238.240
ABA regular season4217.7122003–2005
D/G League regular season303347.4662006–present
Totals combined349373.4832003–present

Current roster

Roster listing
Northern Arizona Suns roster
Pos.No.NameHeightWeightDOB (YYYY-MM-DD)From
G 7 Blevins, Keljin 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m)200 lb (91 kg)1995–11–24 Montana State
F 21 Epps, Aaron 6 ft 10 in (2.08 m)220 lb (100 kg)1996–04–28 LSU
G 4 Farrell, Matt 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)175 lb (79 kg)1996–03–15 Notre Dame
G 9 Hill, Ahmed 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)205 lb (93 kg)1995–03–21 Virginia Tech
G 10 Jones, ShawnDre' 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)170 lb (77 kg)1994–11–18 Richmond
G 44 Krämer, David 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)185 lb (84 kg)1997–01–14 Germany
G 0 Lecque, Jalen  (NBA)6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)190 lb (86 kg)2000–06–13 Brewster Academy (NH)
F 5 Lawrence, Anthony 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m)210 lb (95 kg)1996–09–06 Miami (FL)
G 9 Nwamu, Ike 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)205 lb (93 kg)1993–06–03 UNLV
C 3 Odiase, Norense 6 ft 8 in (2.03 m)250 lb (113 kg)1995–09–14 Texas Tech
F 11 Owens, Tariq  (TW)6 ft 10 in (2.08 m)205 lb (93 kg)1995–06–30 Texas Tech
G 15 Palmer, Trayvon 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m)185 lb (84 kg)1994–11–13 Chicago State
Head coach
Assistant coach(es)

  • (C) Team captain
  • (DP) Unsigned draft pick
  • (FA) Free agent
  • (S) Suspended
  • (NBA) On assignment from NBA affiliate
  • (TW) Two-way affiliate player
  • (I) Inactive
  • Cruz Roja.svg Injured

Last transaction: 2020–03–14

Former players

Players assigned by NBA teams

Players recalled by NBA teams

Players called up by NBA teams

Players returned to the Suns

Two-way players

Players called up to two-way contracts

Head coaches

#Head coachTermRegular seasonPlayoffsAchievements
GWL Win% GWL Win%
1 Paul Westhead 20031101.000
2 Earl Cureton 2003–0430237.7671101.000 ABA Championship (2004)
3 Nate Archibald 2004–051486.571
4 Corey Gaines 200514104.714211.500
5 Jim Harrick 2006–07501931.380
6 Sean Rooks 2007–08501139.220
7 Scott Roth 2008–09502624.520101.000
8 Will Voigt 2009–14150134116.536936.333
9 Nate Bjorkgren 2014–15503416.680312.333
10 Chris Jent 2015–16502228.440
11 Tyrone Ellis 2016–17502228.440
12 Cody Toppert 2017–18502327.460
13 Bret Burchard 2018–present501238.240

NBA affiliates

Northern Arizona Suns

Bakersfield Jam

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  6. Bakersfield To Keep Jammin'
  7. The Jam is not toast after all
  8. Phoenix Suns to use D-League Bakersfield as affiliate
  9. Phoenix Suns to "make experience seamless" between Suns and D-League's Jam by using same system
  11. "Phoenix Suns Buy Bakersfield Jam; Relocate Team to Prescott Valley, Arizona". OurSports Central. April 12, 2016.
  12. "Phoenix Suns Purchase Bakersfield Jam". OurSports Central. April 12, 2016.
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  14. Kotloff, Brian (May 10, 2016). "Northern Arizona Suns Unveil Logo and Uniforms". NBA Development League. Retrieved May 16, 2016.
  17. "Northern Arizona Suns endure hectic week as training camp opens". 2 Ways & 10 Days. October 25, 2017. Retrieved November 21, 2018.
  18. Jacob Withee (November 4, 2017). "Cody Toppert Named New Head Coach of Northern Arizona Suns". NBA G League.
  19. "NAZ Suns' coach Cody Toppert joins Phoenix staff as assistant under Kokoskov". The Daily Courier . June 22, 2018.
  20. "Bret Burchard Named Head Coach of Northern Arizona Suns". July 25, 2018.