The 2021 NBA G League season in Disney is almost here. On this episode of Coat Check, Matt Murphy catches up with Delaware Blue Coats General Manager Matt Lilly. Topics include Shake Milton’s success, welcoming Jameer Nelson into the front office, this year’s roster and more! Below are a few excerpts from the conversation in Q&A format.
Listen to the full interview on the 76ers Podcast Network and look for new episodes of Coat Check every other Tuesday all year long.
Q: How was this past offseason?
A: I think the word that comes to mind is unusual. You work in this industry for a number of years and there’s a rhythm to how things go. It’s cyclical where the season’s always on the same calendar and we’ve got the same events every summer. We’re going to Portsmouth and Chicago, and Vegas for Summer League. And so we kind of developed this rhythm of how things go season-to-season. To have everything come to a halt in March — things got going at the NBA level this summer, but at the G League level, we were waiting for a while and now have some clarity on what this season’s going to look like. For us, we just tried to make the most of the time. We had our whole staff intact and working towards this moment that we’re getting close to. So that’s a lot of extra time for scouting and casting a wider net there than maybe we’re able to in normal offseasons. We tried to be as prepared as we can for the season that is now right around the corner.
Q: What has it been like for you to watch Shake Milton’s NBA ascent?
A: It’s awesome, honestly. There are a lot of things that we want to accomplish with our G League program. We want everyone to come in and grow and get better. For some guys that’s cracking the NBA, and for other guys it’s finding success overseas. But to have a guy come through the program and turn into a bona fide rotation player for the Sixers, that’s bigger than everything.
We’re thrilled for his success. It’s been really fun for us, seeing him come in as a rookie and get his feet wet in the G League on the two-way contract. His ascension since then has been a big success story for our program. It’s something that — Connor [Johnson], myself, everyone — we all take a lot of pride in.
Q: What are some of the strengths of this 2021 Blue Coats roster as a whole?
A: First of all, the talent level is something that we feel really good about. The majority of our roster is guys that have been in the NBA at some point. We’ve got a lot of guys that can play. I think it’s going to be a good, competitive environment to see who ends up earning minutes.
We love our shooting this year with Frank [Mason] and Jared [Brownridge] and some of the guys that we have there in the backcourt. And I think our overall versatility is something that we’re really excited to see how some of these pieces fit together, with Jemerrio [Jones] and Lamine [Diane] and Julian [Washburn] — guys that can play multiple different positions. I think there are a lot of different lineups we can play. Once we get to work with these guys hands-on down there in the bubble, I’m excited to see what combinations and ideas Connor can come up with for the group.
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