Devils finding identity in youth

  • By Ed Latham, Day 149, 2023


ATLANTA -
The season has not been as positive as fans wished, that is certain. What has been uncertain has been the boom or bust status of the many youth the team has brought on board in the last couple of years. One youth that has recently gone boom is highlighted today in this article.

At the all star break, team officials were quite upset with the overall team performance and may have been a bit let down by the lack of progress in some of the young players. The line up changed a bunch at C, SF, SG, PG.

Probably the biggest "gamble" in all this shifting was the move to bring young Connor Maitland into the starting C role which moved James Spencer into a 6th man rotation at the big spots. So, just how has Connor responded?

In the last 11 games, he has averaged the following:

20 ppg in about 30 minutes of play

5 reb which is a bit low but he does fluctuate a big deal in this stat.

2 asst per game: again this fluctuates a good deal as well

1.2 steals per game

Almost 2.5 blocks per game

and a team high .654 eFG%

all while having one of the lowest TO rate on the team.

In these last 11 games, the Devils have won 6 which is much better than most any other 11 game stretch this season. Production from PG and SG have been up and Slatterly has loved the moves and has shifted into one of the higher production players in the league since all star break. The team still has struggles at SF, but young draft pick Ellis Neeley has offered some support that has been slowly building as well.

All arrows are pointing up, but it does not count quite as much when we think about how low the team fell in the first half of the season. Still, fans have to be encouraged to see young players like Maitland, Jameson, Harmon and Neeley all starting and starting to play well together.

Amazing to see that the most productive line up of the year consists of 4 "new" (year 1 or 2) players with one all star. Even better is to see this line up starting to pick up some steam. It may be too late to catch the playoff train, but the Devils may be in a position to derail some playoff hopefuls in the next few weeks.