Devils GM shares Draft War Room Stories

  • By Ed Latham, Day 1, 2023


ATLANTA -
GM Ed Latham stepped up to the podium to share his views on the draft, the team hopes, and what things look like as the dust clears.

“Thank you all for giving us a few hours to digest what just happened last night before we got back to you all. I think that was the fastest draft experience I have ever been a part of and there were times that were quite crazy. It is hard enough trying to process a flurry of picks going by, but when you throw in incredible trades like that Hershel Walker type deal where one team mortgages it’s future in the hopes that one player does not rupture an achilies tendon in training camp, well I think it’s safe to say that we had many distractions in our war room throughout the draft!”

“I have to say that we were frustrated throughout most of the draft. When we scouted, we knew that with 4 picks available to us, we had lots of work to try to have as much intell as possible on as many kids as we could get to. We also suspected that scouting players much lower than out picks would help us insure that we were picking the right people for our team rather than the flashiest bling that the press advertises all the time. Sadly, almost every other team in the league must have been thinking that as a number of top tallent picks on our board dropped like flies so early!”

“At pick 11, we were shocked to see our second best player on our board go so early. Darius was projected a good amount lower than our 17 pick so we thought for sure he would be around as a second option in case our #1 option went away. The Renagades evidently liked what they saw in the kid as well. The pressure was immediate for us. We still had our #1 on the board but our #3 and #4 were so much further down projected picks it seemed we would need to look for a new #2 option just in case. Sadly, we did not do tons of scouting up in the top 20 projected picks so we started calling around to friendly clubs to ask about this kid or that kid to try to pry away any percptions.”

“Only 2 picks later, the Scorpions got us all in a tizzy by picking our #1 prospect, Jarell Harrison. Now we were almost frantic as the pace of picks seemed to increase! We only had 5 picks left before we had to make a choice. We had two players at the SG position in our sights but they were projected way down in the 30s so we felt safe we could wait on them (more on this shortly). After some quick phone calls, we had to do something that I never feel comfortable doing. We went with a gut feeling and picked Dominique (Harmon SG/SF) at pick 17. We loved the offensive firepower this kid has, but we were concerned with his ball control. In fact, over 60% of those kids we scouted all sucked at ball control which was very disturbing. The college coaches need to take note that less time needs to be spent on dunking practice and more time actually getting these kids to dribble and pass better than the average high school kids could do 10 years ago.”

“With a nice wing in the fold, we were only mindly shocked to watch Teague (pick 18) and Ajayi (pick 20) go off our draft board. These were our next two ranked players and we thought that we might have a chance at 27 to look at either one of them. They were both projected to be in the 30s, I guess we learned a valuable lesson in this draft. JDNET, Draft Express, and ESPN don’t know jack shit about our league, our coaches or these kids.”

“When we had PG players come in pre draft, there was one kid I was immediately in love with. Quick hands, quick feet, man could he move around the court! Like almost every rookie we looked at, his hands might not have been anywhere near where we like to have players, but gosh the possiblities were there for this kid. We picked up Deron (Jameson PG) and even though he might be a bit shorter than ideal, we think this kid is going to develop into a super player. With Marquis Thomas’s (Devils current starting PG) experience and work ethic and ability to imspire his teammates, Deron has a great opportunity here to surprise many teams. I think the fans are gonna like this kid!”

“Now we needed a big. We respect that Ellington needs to move on to a team where he can start but that left us with a hole in our rotation for our 4 spot. We wanted a big, but it appears that most of the league wanted bigs as well. When (Jackson) Farrior fell at 39 to the Predators, we were a bit miffed that our board was cleared of big men already. We had at least 7 guys projected to be down here for a big pick and all of them had been scooped up already! In our frustration, I ordered Jimmy, one of our scouts, to get on social media and start polling fans as to who they hoped we would pick. Hey! Any intell at this point had to be better than what we had on some of these kids left over.”

“Pick 44 came up so quick we were not even able to get any solid suggestions from social media by that time. Instead we went with what we knew. Out of the players we had scouted, the best one available was Ellis Neeley SF. We knew that (Westley) Curtis would not be returning to our club this next year and he was an important part of our SG/SF rotations. With our pick up of Harmon already we thought that if Harmon was groomed to work with (Javion) Edwards, we might have Neeley working with (Cortez) Ellison. This foursome looks to have much potential to work into a powerful wing rotation for us while providing lots of training camp competition for all four players in terms of playing time and starting positions. At times last year, both Edwards and Ellison looked like they needed a bit of a push, well, now they have one.”

“As our pick 49 came up, it was apparent that we had absolutely no one worth picking left on our board. Our options were so bad on that board we figured any blind stab in the dark had to be better than what we already knew about the kids we had scouted that were left. Jimmy comes up to me with this Andrew Fishback kid’s name. I asked the room if anyone had heard of the kids and there was lots of muttering but no one was claiming to be best buds with the guy. Still, the clock was ticking and we had to pick someone. Our hearts sank as we heard a local DJ doing some draft analysis trying to say something about our pick. Either the DJ was so drunk at that moment that he was speachless, or the best he could say was some sort of burp that sounded a bit like, ‘...well, he’s just some guy …” Sigh! We are going to give the kid every chance to prove he belongs in this league and the job is there for him to earn, but his press so far has not been anything to inspire any confidence in anyone. Maybe this will light a fire under him and push him to prove himself. Maybe he wimpers off the the ranks of team water boy, I guess we will see what happens in training camp.”

“Well, we still have much work to do with preparing for Free Agency. Based on the crazy number of trades we saw in the draft, I am not sure we can even remotely prepare for what might happen once those free agent floodgates open. There is still sooooo much money out there and only so much decent tallent.”

“What? What’s that…? Oh, Coaching. Yea we have a couple of spots to fill and it seems that there are more teams looking for coaches than we expected. It is a slow process and we have been in positive conversations with quite a few options that would fit what we wish to do. Sadly, there is no crystal ball here, but you should know that we have offers out there on the table, we just need to give the individuals time to process.”

“Speaking of process, the draft has been quite an experience this year and our team has much new tallent that can help us improve from the successes we had last year. We are anxious to see how Free Agency can help us out a bit more in that regard. Maybe we can land one of those ‘BIG FISH’ that we have our sights on!”