For Juwan Staten, basketball has always been about finding the right fit. And he believes he’s found that with the Delaware 87ers, the Philadelphia 76ers Developmental League squad.
On Dec. 31, the 87ers acquired the rights to Staten, who had previously been with the Santa Cruz Warriors, the Golden State Warriors D-League team. The move, Staten said, was a mutual agreement on both parts, something that seems rare in today’s age of athletes.
“It’s about finding the right fit,” Staten said. “This system fits my game much better. I can do what feels natural.”
Staten played in 13 games with Santa Cruz, averaging 8.9 points per outing with 28.9 minutes on the court a night. He also chipped in 3.7 assists per game.
Delaware, though, wants Staten to be a facilitator, to get out and play fast and open up the offense.
“They want me to play with pace, get paint touches, get others involved, score when the opportunity presents itself and change the game defensively,” Staten explained.
“I honestly believe it’s a good fit for my game,” he said of the move. “We play with pace, a lot in transition, and we pretty much play a five-out motion with lots of ball screens. It really allows me to utilize my speed, quickness and play-making abilities as well as defensive abilities.”
Staten’s path to the NBA isn’t exactly the way he would have hoped for coming out of West Virginia University, but a knee injury hindered his draft stock and kept him from being drafted. Following the latest NBA Draft, though, Staten was signed to the Sacramento Kings summer league before eventually being signed by the Golden State Warriors in the preseason.
Since being assigned to the D-League, Staten has focused his mind on getting onto an NBA roster. That, he said, has provided a fuel to his fire.
“Yeah…definitely extra motivation,” he said. “My dream is to play in the NBA so I felt that it meant I had more work to do. Coming off surgery was a small setback in camp, but it made me more determined to make my dreams come true. It also helped me to realized that everyone has their niche. It’s all about finding the right team that fits your game. So, that’s what I’m doing now. Just working to improve my game and hopefully find the right fit.”
Now, Staten believes he’s in the right system and hopes that it pays dividends for him on his journey to the NBA ranks.
But the move to the East Coast goes beyond basketball for Staten, a Dayton, Ohio native.
“I definitely like being back on the East Coast. Delaware isn’t too different from Ohio, actually. The weather is about the same, but I’d say it’s a tad bit faster pace in Delaware,” Staten said. “But it’s close to WVU, my family and my girlfriend.”
Staten’s girlfriend, WVU women’s basketball standout Asya Bussie, is pregnant with the couple’s first child, too.
“I’m excited that I get to make the doctor visits now,” Staten said.
As the season rolls on for Staten, the guard has seen his ball handling and athleticism get back to the level of his junior year in college, one in which he averaged 18.1 points, 5.9 assists and 5.6 rebounds per game en route to being named a first-team All-Big 12 and Big 12 Defensive team selection. Seeing improvement day by day, Staten has vowed to take things as they come and continue to do the best job that he can.
“Overall, I have learned that the pro game is very different than college. You just had to take it one game at a time, because there’s too many games to get too high or too low,” Staten said. “I chose to play in the D-League (rather than go overseas) because I feel that I am an NBA player. This is the second-best league in the world.”