Atlanta Devils Off Season Report
- By Ed Latham, Day 1, 2022
ATLANTA - GM Ed Latham
When we traded Swayda away, we committed to building a younger team that would grow together. Living with that decision last year was tough because it took time for our players to learn to win on the road and just a couple of injuries sent us in a tailspin a few times. This is actually a good thing because it showed us the power of a team growing together. During the Thomas injury, we tanked because everyone had learned to rely on each other so well in our starting rotation. Now we just need to make sure we are growing all the way down the bench which I think we have accomplished this offseason.
We had three draft picks this offseason and there were many temptations and offers to trade away each of the three picks at different times to different teams. Our draft team felt confident with our direction and we feel that each of our picks this year gell nicely with our additions last year.
In last year’s draft we picked up Javion (Edwards SG) and Peter (Williams SF/SG) to help fill the void in our wing area. Javion did not have a super rookie season but he also did not suck. In all, we think he met our expectations and we can see him filling a solid roll at wing for the next few years. Peter was always a bit of a project and there are some in the staff that are very excited with what Peter was able to offer last year. Sure, his end of year stats don’t cry out “superstar”, but he was brought in to add talent to our bench and offer us needed quality play when other players are out with injuries. Peter showed that he will be able to fill those roles very well for us!
This year we picked up Cortez (Ellison SG/SF), Vince (Stallings PG/SG) and Connor (Maitland C). Both Cortez and Vince add to our stable of backcourt support. We certainly have competition in our 2, 3 spots and our back up 1 spot seems that it is Vince’s position to loose right now. Connor gives us some depth down low and a young 7’ 1” player to bang around with Taquan (Slattery PF) and James (Spencer C/PF). Adding quality depth in three positions was our goal going into the draft and we feel we met that goal very well with our three youth.
We did have other additions to ensure we have depth this year. We were able to bring back Curtis Westley (SG/SF) who had one of his best years of his career last year with us. We also felt the need to pick up another PG in the event that Thomas has another injury like last year. The loss of Thomas sent the team into a deep tailspin and we want to avoid that this year. Cedric Brisby (PG) has joined us to help add insurance and competition in the back up role. It is anticipated that Cedric and Vince Stallings will be battling to be the primary back up, but should an injury hit Thomas again, it is comforting to know that both players will be ready as well as Tyrone Macklin who did a serviceable job for us last year at the position.
It is not only in our additions that we got stronger this offseason. We managed to extend both Roy (Ellington PF) and James (Spencer C/PF) for another year. With the league still suffering from inflation it was vital that we were able to lock up Roy and James for another year while we work with their agents to iron out more long term deals with both to ensure they are happy and productive here in Atlanta for some time.
It has been amazing to see how much interest Ellington has received this offseason! Of course grabbing the 6th man of the year (even if it was a controversial selection) has helped to fuel interest in the young PF. The combo of Ellington, Slattery and Spencer has become the central nucleus of this team and all three players seem to be coming together and celebrating their growth. Keeping them together to create a stable rotation that is powerful and consistent is one of our main efforts here in Atlanta.
With 4 picks in next year’s draft (2 #1s and 2 #2s) the Atlanta fan base can be excited about what this team is starting to grown into. We managed to make it into the playoffs last year more because our conference was weak. Heck, we did not even get to the 50% win mark and everyone in the league knows that we were not able to win many games away from home. This year, as the team continues to grow together, we know those away win totals will grow and we are pushing to ensure that we earn a playoff spot this year rather than just squeak in as almost the default, “who else can we pick”, representative of the East. It will be an exciting year for Devils fans with a young core of players, depth at every position, and consistency that has helped these young players build the vital teamwork necessary to win in this league. I wish to personally thank the many fans that continue to provide the support this team needs to have a great season!