Devils pondering progress

  • By Ed Latham, Day 65, 2023

All of the starters are still on the team from last year. The only player lost to FA of note from last year was Ellington who was a back up big that never really dominated in games. At least two new players on the team have been having productive rookie years. Why then is Atlanta continuing to struggle so much this year.

The team did loose two assistant coaches and some believe this is a major factor. The offensive focus of the team and it's production has been similar if not better in some regards than the last two seasons and yet the defense is horrible! Team offensive and defensive settings have remained pretty similar to last year and with some of the young players coming to the team with higher defensive ratings that those that played in their positions last year, it has to be the coaching change.

GM Ed Latham has had many extended hours of meetings with the head coach and the two new assistants to try to figure out what is wrong with this defense and what can be done about it.

Lets take a look just at the ORtg and DRtg for the starters and back ups at each position.

At PG:
Deron Jameson ORtg = 112.8 DRtg = 117
Marquis Thomas ORtg = 110.2 DRtg = 118.2

Apparently PG remains one of the weaker defensive rating positions on the team. It is nice to see the rookie Jameson having a good offensive season so far.

Dominique Harmon ORtg = 123.1 DRtg = 115.8
Javion Edwards ORtg = 94.7 DRtg = 115.1

Harmon never was known for his defense. sadly Edwards has been only slightly better on D but horrible at Offense. Second weakest defensive rating position on the team with only Harmon really compensating at all in Offense which has been very nice for his rookie year.

Cortez Ellison ORtg = 113.1 DRtg = 114.7
Ellis Neely ORtg = 104.7 DRtg = 111.5

Ellison and Neely offer one of the best defensive ratings on the team while their offense is not horrible. One of the more well rounded positions even though the defense is still a work in progress

Taquan Slattery ORtg = 117.4 DRtg = 112.7
Dashon Scott ORtg = 95.8 DRtg = 111.1

For both of these players their defensive ratings are at their lowest in their career. Slattery is enjoying his highest offensive rating in his career while his defense rating is his worst in his career. Still, even with both players dropping in their defense rating, this position is one of the most defensive on the team.

At C
James Spencer ORtg = 111.8 DRtg = 112.4
Connor Maitland ORtg =120.8 DRtg = 112.9

Connor's offensive efficiency continues to be very high. James has shown up big in some games and all but disappears in others. The defense of these two has been relatively good for the team but is still much lower than what is needed.

The team's DRtg is low, consistent, but low. There is much youth on this team with 6 of the top 10 players all new to the team this year and 3 of those players are either Rookies or in their 2nd year in the league.

Maybe it is too much youth that is still trying to mature. Maybe it is coaching changes that have not meshed. Maybe the rest of the league just got so much better at Offense this season. Maybe it has just been a relatively tough strength of schedule on the road this season.

Whatever the reason, the Devils are struggling to find their defensive identity and to find some consistency on offense. Fans can celebrate that so many players on the team have had hot nights and the Per values of 5 players is greater than 15 with a few players not far under that mark. This is much deeper than the team has had in the last two years, but it is also the least developed.

Will Ed Latham have the patience to keep these pieces working together? Will players continue to grow and build trust with each other to create consistency? Will the Devils finally give in to Trader Bed's frequent request for a Slatterly trade? Fans are certainly hoping the first two questions are a resounding "Yes!" and almost everyone writes off that last question as clearly being Fake News!