Delaware Blue Coats guard Michael Frazier II brought a lot of useful experiences to the squad this year, a season he hopes culminates with the franchise's first championship on Thursday.
Frazier and the Blue Coats will face the Lakeland Magic at 4:30 p.m. Thursday (ESPN2) in the championship game of a condensed season inside NBA G League's Orlando bubble.
The former Florida Gator has been there before, in two different ways.
Frazier participated in the NBA's Orlando bubble as a member of the Houston Rockets in 2020, and he also was a part of the 2018-19 G League Champion Rio Grande Valley Vipers.
Frazier he has tried to use lessons from last season's Disney experience with his NBA teammates as an advantage for him, and his fellow Blue Coats.
"The mental aspect of being away from your family for such a long period of time and being away from your normal routine, seeing your friends, and things like that. It definitely gave me an advantage walking me into this thing. I tried to help my teammates as best as I could, trying to get them mentally prepared, but sometimes experience is the best thing for something like this."
The Tampa-native said the restrictions of the bubble makes having the opportunity to play for a title even more satisfying.
"Having to the opportunity to go out here and compete for a championship with a group of guys that we've grown very close together in a short period of time. To be able to have that opportunity to fight for something we can take with us for the rest of our lives is pretty special."
The championship game pairs up the league's top-two offenses, with Delaware averaging 125.5 points, two better than the Magic.
Frazier said if Thursday will be the first time you check in on Delaware's G League team, you'll like what you see.
"We're a very disciplined team, we're a very talented team, we're a very unselfish team who do whatever it takes to win. We go out there and we put it on the line every single possession, and I think anyone tuning in for the first time will see that we're hungry, we have a bunch of players who are continuing to get better, and accomplish something special."
Delaware had five players score in double figures in their 127-100 semifinal win over the Raptors 905, and Frazier said a bench player has been crucial down the stretch.
"I enjoy watching Braxton Key play. I think he's been a huge part of our success here lately. In our last game, he had a really big game for us off the bench. He comes from a really big program (Virginia), he won a championship in college, so he comes from a winning culture, which is really big in a situation like this."
One thing you may notice if you watch Thursday's game? A reduction in free throws.
Any situation in a traditional game where a player would get 2 or 3 free throws (shooting foul or bonus) is now adjudicated with one free throw with the value of the usual attempts, whether that is worth 1, 2, or 3 points.
Frazier said after a season playing under the rule, his teammates aren't big fans, but they understand why the NBA is trying something different with the least active part of the game.
"They're not too fond of it because if a guy can't really shoot free throws and he gets lucky on his shot, he gets two points, as opposed to missing the second one or vice versa. I think it's unfair in that regard, but if the league thinks it's better for gameplay and pace of the game and that's what they're trying to accomplish, I think it's good for that."
Win or lose, the G League's bubble will finally break after Thursday's game, and Frazier said he's excited to make a 75-mile trip down I-4 as his first action post-bubble.
"Seeing my family. That's been a huge sacrifice for all of us here. Hopefully we can finish with a win, and finish on top, and my family will be the first people I get to celebrate with, so that will be exciting."
This tournament run comes at the end of the eighth, and by far most successful, season since the Blue Coats came to Delaware. The franchise, originally known as the 87ers, had not made the G League playoffs in the First State.