Though the Golden State Warriors are one of the most dedicated franchises to development, there's no denying that the minor league affiliated Santa Cruz squad is also often built to win big.
After making appearances in each of the last two D-League Finals prior, Santa Cruz finally went all the way and won a title this past spring.
There were plenty of quality contributors from top to bottom, but with some of the bigger names rising as staring attractions, Dominique Sutton was arguably one of the more underrated players on the squad.
Following his team's championship victory, Sutton was actually named to the D-League's All-Defensive Third Team. At 6'5" and 212 pounds, the swingman is able to defend and subsequently pester multiple positions on the floor. Given the fact that D-League teams often play small ball, his evident versatility proves to be that much more valuable. This past season, he averaged 6.4 rebounds and 1.3 steals, all in just under 25 minutes per contest.
Perhaps more interestingly enough, Sutton made most of his contributions as a defensive-stopper off the bench. He started in just 5 games out of 41 appearances.
It's a role that he was actively able to embrace. Speaking to RidiculousUpside.com at NBA Summer League, Sutton explained why.
"Whatever I need to do and whatever role I need to fill, I'll do it. Coming off the bench allows me to spectate the game, and then come in, knowing full well exactly what I need to do," he pointed out. "I can hop right in and play aggressively with some good defense."
After rising up as an intriguing prospect on the Tulsa 66ers in 2012-13, the high-flying athletic swingman cashed in on some of his success with different stints in both Greece and the Philippines. But after catching on with Santa Cruz last season, it appears as though the decision to return to the D-League has already paid off. He's getting an extended look from Golden State this summer. Sutton had a game-high four steals in 21 minutes off the bench, despite the Warriors' loss on Sunday night.
"It's been a great experience. I wanted to come back to the D-League last year and work on my game a little bit," Sutton said. "To now, have the opportunity to play for Golden State after a good season like that makes me feel blessed."
Sutton is 28 years old. His game has continued to improve with each and every passing season. But even as he looks at a player like Chris Copeland, who broke into the NBA at the age of 30, the swingman is remaining focused on his own chances.
"I don't have a lot of miles on my body. I'm fresh out. This is my fourth season," Sutton asserted. "I'd be blessed to have an opportunity to play in the NBA. It's something I'm striving for, but if not, I'm willing to go overseas and just play basketball. I'm grateful to play this game, but the NBA would be great."
By flocking overseas following one D-League season, Sutton made a necessary decision that many minor leaguers in his position often do as well. Still, his most recent success as a champion should be intriguing NBA executives yet again.