In his third season in the NBA D-League, Stefhon Hannah has taken his game to another level. Hannah's defensive skills have always been a strength for the 6'1'', 175 pound guard, but recently Hannah has displayed his passing skills and timely shooting ability, as Santa Cruz has rolled into the second round of the playoffs. With supreme talent surrounding Hannah, his on-the-court leadership will likely determine how far the Warriors' will go this postseason.
Hannah spoke with RidiculousUpside.com, and talked about his fortunate role on the team. "We have some great players, our bigs have been incredible. Last year I looked to score the ball, but now I'm focusing more on getting my guys the ball, and putting them in successful spots out on the floor." Hannah said.
Hannah has raised his assist totals over the last 7 games including the playoffs. During that stretch, he is averaging 8.0 assists, which is roughly three more than his regular season average. It certainly helps having players such as Travis Leslie, Hilton Armstrong, and Jeremy Tyler out on the floor for Hannah. All three players are top-5 prospects according NBADleague.com.
Hannah has also been shooting the three ball well, as documented in Santa Cruz's first round series against Fort Wayne. Hannah shot 50% (7-for-14) from beyond the arc, and averaged 19.5 points. His ability to catch fire at the right moment has been a large reason for Santa Cruz's overall success this season. When he is not driving and dishing, Hannah's ability to knock down the corner-3 is just another aspect of his ever-growing game.
Last season, Hannah was a member of the Dakota Wizards, and suffered a two-game sweep in the first round of playoffs against the Bakersfield Jam. The franchise has since been relocated to Santa Cruz, California, and has enjoyed a pleasant transition. Hannah spoke about his time in both Bismarck, and now in Santa Cruz. "The move has been positive, when we first moved out here though we had no idea what it was going to be like because our first seven regular season games were on the road. The crowd and support has been amazing though, but it was also hard to leave Bismarck too. There was probably a bit of heartbreak for the fans in Bismarck, because they were with the team for so long and from the start."
Hannah continued, "for the Golden State Warriors organization it has been a great move, coach Jackson has been able to visit us here, and being so close has allowed them an easier time to stay connected." Hannah's acknowledgement of Bismarck speak volumes to the tradition, and first class treatment he and his former teammates received in North Dakota. However, the team's new digs has allowed for a sense of rejuvenation for the franchise, and the organization has enjoyed sellout crowds which have shown incredible support for their new team.
As Santa Cruz continues it's playoff run, Hannah will need to keep playing at his current level. Not only has the team enjoyed Hannah's increased assist totals and scoring ability, but his swagger is another reason for his success. Hannah has a unique way of getting under his opponent's skin, and it generally favors Hannah as games unfold.
All of the aforementioned qualities to Hannah's game makes up the "Stef Factor" for Santa Cruz, and his play will remain crucial as the team prepares for a second round playoff battle against last year's NBADL Champions, the Austin Toros.