Despite falling short of the NBA Development League Playoffs, by all accounts, the inaugural season of the Utah Flash was a success.
Failing to get to the postseason was a disappointment, but it was more important for the Flash to be competitive, establish themselves in the community and strengthen their ties to their NBA affiliates, the Utah Jazz and Boston Celtics.
"I think the Flash have had a wonderfully successful first year," D-League President Dan Reed said. "They've done a great job of embedding themselves in the community, and the community has responded. They did pretty well on the floor as well. They quickly became one of our best franchises."
The Flash had their chances throughout the season, thanks in large part to the play of Jazz guard Morris Almond, who led the D-League in scoring at 25.6 points per game in 34 games over three separate assignments to the Flash.
For his efforts, Almond was given the first annual NBA Development League Impact Player of the Year Award, and he was voted to the All D-League Third Team.
"I'm very excited for him," Flash coach Brad Jones said. "I was disappointed that he only got Third-Team All-League, but having him get this award just speaks to what he's done all year for us. He's really developed his all-around game, and he didn't just have an impact in scoring."
Despite Almond's strong play, Utah's fatal flaw was its inability to take care of the ball. The Flash averaged 19.6 turnovers per game, by far the most in the league.
"I was disappointed in our turnovers all year long," Flash general manager Dave Fredman said. "I feel like we were as good as any team in the D-League. We beat ourselves in most of our losses."
Utah also struggled on the road, going just 10-15, and it had the misfortune of playing in the same division as the two best teams in the D-League.
The Idaho Stampede finished with the best record in the league at 36-14, and the Los Angeles D-Fenders had the second-best record, at 32-18.
While teams in the other divisions only had to play Idaho and Los Angeles twice during the season, the Flash had to play eight games against each, and they didn't fare particularly well, finishing a combined 4-12 against the Stampede and D-Fenders.
Ultimately, Utah's season was decided by a stretch of 17 games from Jan. 25 to March 15, which included 11 road games and eight games against Idaho and Los Angeles.
The Flash went 5-12, losing eight of their road games and winning just one game against the league leaders. After going into the critical part of the schedule with a record of 13-10, Utah came out of it at 18-22, and their playoff hopes were in serious trouble.
They were unable to recover to make the postseason, but the Flash were successful in other areas, such as attracting fans and sponsorships.
Over the course of the season, Utah drew an average of 3,850 people per game, which helped them go 14-11 at home.
They had the third-highest attendance in the D-League, less than a couple hundred behind the Sioux Falls Skyforce, who led the league in attendance.
The Flash were also able to strengthen their relationship with their NBA affiliates.
They benefited from having several players from the Jazz and Celtics assigned to the team at one time or another, but the NBA teams benefited as well, particularly the Jazz, as the Flash are based less than an hour away from Salt Lake City.
"Having them very close has been very helpful," said Kevin O'Connor, Jazz senior vice president of basketball operations. "We've been able to bring players back quickly. We've been able to go down and watch games, but more importantly, we've been able to go down and scout all of the teams right here, right in our own back yard."
The future of the team's roster is uncertain. All the non-NBA players are free agents, as they signed one-year contracts with the league itself, and they will be trying to make an NBA team or get a good contract in a European league.
However, the Flash will be able to protect several of their players from being drafted by other teams in the event that the players decide to return to the D-League.
"If guys are coming back to the D-League, I think they want to be (in Utah), and we feel the same way," Jones said. "I think we'll be better as an organization next year because now we've been through it."