Heading into Friday's matchup with the Reno Bighorns, the Idaho Stampede are off to their most productive and successful season in years. As it stands, they've already tallied more wins this year (20) than last (19). What's more, if the season were to have ended at the end of February, Idaho's winning percentage (54%) would be the team's highest since 2008-09.
That also happens to be the last time the Stampede reached the postseason.
But despite all of that success, if the season were to end as of March 6th, Idaho would still be out of luck. The team's 20-17 record positions them half a game behind the Santa Cruz Warriors for the eighth and final playoff spot.
Though they could very well end the season on the outside looking in, it won't be due to a lack of trying. The race to the postseason is so tight in the NBA D-League, that the Stampede are only three games behind Reno for the top spot in the division (or second seed overall in the minor league).
Needless to say, things can change very quickly. That's what makes this coming weekend's back-to-back set with the Bighorns all the more crucial, Idaho guard Dee Bost recently told RidiculousUpside.com.
"These next two games we have coming up, the back-to-backs against Reno, are very important for us," he said. "We just lost two at home, and these next two will kind of dictate it, because things are so tight in our division. We've got to separate ourselves, and it's part of my job to get us back in the right direction."
Coming off a training camp stint with the affiliated (but soon not to be) Portland Trail Blazers, Bost is having a stellar season as Idaho's resident floor general. His success may have been overshadowed early on due to the buzz surrounding Pierre Jackson (the latter was having a fantastic D-League season, but never received an NBA call-up. His NBA Draft rights are still held by the New Orleans Pelicans), but with his talented teammate now strutting his stuff abroad, Bost has stolen the show.
"When Pierre was here, my role was to get him the ball and let him score. But with him gone now, I kind of have to take over that role, score the ball, and look for my offense," Bost said.
Through 37 games, Bost has averaged 16.4 points, 8.9 assists, 6.7 assists, and 1.9 steals. Though he only shoots 38% from the field, the floor general leads the D-League with an eye-popping five triple-doubles this season.
With Jackson no longer in town, Bost has had to emerge as "the man" on offense in more assertive ways than he was used to when sharing the backcourt with the former. Still, this new starring role isn't exactly something he minds much.
"I'm fine, but at the same time, I want to show other teams that I can be a true point guard and get others involved," Bost mentioned "Instead of me trying to get mine, it's about getting other players involved. It's about showing them I can play well in that role, if I were to get the chance."
Clearly, not only does Bost have all the potential in the world, but plenty of existent talent, too. He's undoubtedly one of the league's top prospects, but with the postseason coming up, many NBA teams will instead opt to lean on their veteran players along the rest of the way. Given all his skills, is Bost tempted to venture overseas, much like his former teammate Jackson? What makes the D-League so appealing?
I had already done the overseas thing for a year, and I wanted to give this a shot. I feel like I have the talent, and all I need is the opportunity," he added. "I just wanted to at least give myself the chance to see if I could make it, instead of going overseas and spending time there the rest of my career."
There's no denying that, against the best competition any professional basketball league has to offer (aside from the NBA, of course) Bost is doing all he can to stand out over the rest, and thus far, it's working. He often dominates many of his floor general counterparts.
With that in mind, is he the best point guard in the D-League, now that Jackson is no longer around?
Bost laughed at such a question, but then asserted, "I like that question. I mean, yea I think I'm the best point guard. I'm not cocky or arrogant, but I think I'm the best point guard. When Pierre was here, he was by far the best player in the D-League. But I feel like I am the best point guard, when you talk about someone who gets players involved. I might not have the best shooting percentages, but I can get my teammates involved and get them the shots that they want."
The 24 year old has plenty of tools that should make him appealing to NBA teams in the weeks and months to come as we head into the offseason. Still, there's no denying that ensuring teams view him as a winner will go a long way towards getting him a gig in The Association sooner, rather than later.
That playoff spot is within full grasp, and is Bost and the Stampede's for the taking.