A week ago, Matt Lilly was named interim General Manager of the Delaware Blue Coats and sat down with the Blue Coats Beat to discuss various topics such as Elton Brand’s mentorship and the team’s goals for the upcoming season. With the 2018 NBA G League Draft set for this Saturday, it’s time for a Throwback Thursday (to last Thursday).
Below are some of Lilly’s thoughts from the day of the announcement.
Blue Coats Beat: What has [former Blue Coats and current Philadelphia 76ers General Manager] Elton Brand’s mentorship been like over the past few years, specifically last year?
Matt Lilly: Working closely with Elton for the last year has been invaluable for me in developing as a professional in this business. He’s got a wealth of experience having played 17 years in the NBA. Just being able to talk with him day-to-day about the game and about players, but more than anything it’s his leadership and his professionalism that have stood out, and the way that he carries himself and treats other people that he’s working with day-to-day.
BCB: What type of interactions with Elton last season helped you and will continue to help you for this coming season?
ML: Related to the scouting component, as GM, he had a million other things on his plate. So I just tried to streamline a process where we’re evaluating hundreds and hundreds of players every year to present it to him in a way where he could make decisions for the team. In that capacity, being able to have discussions about players and bounce ideas back and forth between each other, it was just really helpful to hone my skill-set as an evaluator and him as a leader and decision-maker.
BCB: How will the all-new 76ers Fieldhouse in Wilmington help grow the program both on the court and in the community?
ML: We’re really excited about the new building. It’s a state-of-the-art facility down there on the waterfront. It’s going to be the best facility in the G League. Just to have a space that is our own, that players can get into and work not only during practice, but individual workouts in the evening and just have a space where our players and our coaches can get into and develop and get better. In terms of the community, [it will be] a central place for community leagues and recreational sports—just a place that everyone can come to for a variety of activities.
BCB: What excites you about the new coaching staff and the new basketball operations staff?
ML: Starting with [head coach] Connor [Johnson], Connor’s been a part of the 76ers organization for a few years now. He’s been groomed under the tutelage of [76ers head coach] Brett Brown and has been basically flagged by our organization as a young coach that has a really bright future. His transition to head coach of the Blue Coats is a part of his development to help him get to where he wants to be at the NBA level. This is his opportunity to come in, run a show, manage a staff, direct practice, and [do] everything that goes into being a head coach. We’re excited about Connor. We’ve got the right people working with him and with me. We’re just excited about the direction that our program is going.
BCB: How important is the continuity between the 76ers and the Blue Coats?
ML: It’s always been really important to us. I think there’s an increased sense of importance there, especially with the two-way contracts now and assignment players going back and forth. Obviously now, [there are] a bunch of staff members that have gone back and forth between Connor Johnson and Eugene Burroughs going from the 76ers to Delaware, Rod Baker, Kevin Young, and John Bryant—guys that have gone from Delaware to bigger roles with the 76ers. And then players, too. There’s going to be a lot of movement during the season with players coming up and down, so it’s important that we keep things as aligned as we can there just to help everyone develop on the path that’s best for them.
BCB: What are your goals for the upcoming season?
ML: First and foremost, we pride ourselves on development. And that starts with the players, but extends to the staff. Some of the names I’ve mentioned already are guys that have come through our program and found success in Philadelphia. There are some other players that have come through and found NBA success. Our biggest goal this year is to have the people that come through our program—players, staff, or otherwise—leave it better than when they came in. That development looks a little bit different for everybody, but in general, we’re hoping just to develop people. Aside from that, we’d also like to win some basketball games. We’re looking for our first playoff berth here in Delaware this year. We’re hoping to reel off some wins here.