Preseason approach in Atlanta
- By Ed Latham, Day 14, 2021
Ed Latham, the GM of the Atlanta Devils basketball team, asked members of the press to a meeting to share some messages and updates to the fans. He was at times very relaxed and informal while at other times he seemed excited and maybe a bit agitated at questions asked.
"I look at our first 20 games as a sort of preseason warm up." Latham started off the meeting with a statement that instantly got people scribbling quotes and formulating questions. "Sure, every game counts, but in reality, every team in this league has undergone changes and no one really knows what they have until people start to learn about each other. Heck, some of the expansion teams are still trying to figure out each other's names for crying out load! How can any coach have solid expectations at this point." When asked if the league should have some sort of warm up games each season, he was quite animated and had to differentiate between what he personally wanted and what the league would actually do. He eventually summed it up with, "It would be nice but it ain't gonna happen."
When asked about the many line up changes so far this season he had the following thoughts to share. "When we get people in here, we want to put the best configuration on the court every night. To do that, we push our players to explore and experience things that they may never have experienced. Sometimes that works out well and sometimes that totally bombs. We have seen both in our exploration last year and into this early season, but I think we are getting a better handle on things. So far we have had 2 or 3 lineup changes in our 7 games. We have learned that we have some leaders on the team that really are starting to jell with others even though players may not be in their natural position. Slat moved from Center last year to PF this year and that has allowed Spencer to start finding his grove to really create a nice front court. As another example, Ellington was doing well as a back up last year, but we recently tried him out at SF and the results have been wonderful. Of course, it's only been a couple of games, but the early signs are that the team is better with him playing out of his natural position. One last example has been our new rook, Mr Edwards. Our coaching staff wanted to throw him right into the starting line up, but after a few experiments we found the kid offers us so much off the bench is he has quickly become a powerful 6th man on this team." We reporters started to go on with another question but he interrupted us. "Oh, shoot, I forgot another important point I wanted to share. It was reported in some pre season press that some players around the league may be 'past their prime'. Our methods of experimenting has found just the right combination to enable Curtis Westly, our veteran Shooting Guard and one of our team leaders, to reach a level of productivity he has not had since his first two years in the league (2012, 2013). In fact, one might say this is his best year so far in his career! Others might just point out that it's only been 7 games." He shrugs and takes a swig of some nasty brown shake.
In the next couple games, one time Devil, Orpheus Swayda, now with the Lightning returns to play against his former team. When asked about how he feels about that meeting, Latham responded with, "Look! As a player, we loved working with Orpheus. As a business, there is no way we could have continued to tie up so many of our economic resources and even our ball distribution in a way that would encourage the positive developments we see starting up already in this young season. We expect him to be inspired to play well against us, but our players are guaranteed to be inspired to prove they can play well together. I love how our younger players are starting jell with our experienced players. Now! Let's work on getting above 50% in wins! I am so sick of being 50/50."
With the next four games going against two teams that are higher than 50% and two teams lower than 50% wins, we are guessing the time is perfect to see if the Devils are ready to make a move from mediocrity or just further establish their middle of the road record.