Things have changed drastically with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants roster on the past couple weeks. Every year during and briefly after the NBA All-Star Break there are always a variety of different transactions throughout the league that typically effect the NBA G League as well. Whether it’s to give certain guys an extra few days of rest or injuries there are moves made to revamp the roster and prepare for the postseason.
First of all, Fort Wayne has dealt with the losses to both Walt Lemon Jr. and Trey McKinney-Jones to 10-day contracts. Obviously, those were two very key contributors for the Mad Ants. They also released Skylar Spencer and acquired guard Michael Orris from the available player pool.
During Lemon Jr. and McKinney-Jones’ absence, both Dequan Jones and rookie guard Tra-Deon Hollins have played phenomenal. Currently on a five-game winning streak, the Mad Ants remain atop the Central Division. Other than Jones’ 30 or 40 point performances, it’s also very important to highlight when rookies are rising to the occasion. Hollins has stepped in with Lemon Jr. gone and has played tremendously.
In Fort Wayne’s most recent game against the Grand Rapids Drive, Hollins put together a 12 point, 10 assist, and 2 steals performance. Prior to that at home against the Iowa Wolves, Hollins recorded another double-double performance, but this time with 14 assists and 10 steals. Not to mention, for someone who was overlooked by a lot of NBA scouts because of his shooting ability” Hollins was 4/9 from three-point range versus Grand Rapids, which is nearly 45%. Although that’s just one game, it could be an example that he is progressing in that part of his game. Ini addition to that, his playing time has doubled from about 15-20 minutes per game, to averaging 30-35 minutes over the past five games.
Part of me knew he would get his moment before the season started. It was quite intriguing visiting back to my brief interview with him after his second practice with Mad Ants coach Steve Gansey back on October.
Hollins is not only extremely athletic, but he’s so intimidating defensively that I knew once he got his chance, he would shine. It’ll be interesting to see how not only he progresses through the second half, but also how rookie Ike Anigbogu improves as well.
The Mad Ants are currently preparing for their road schedule against the Austin Spurs (Sunday), Rio Grande Valley Vipers (Tuesday), and Texas Legends (Wednesday), before returning home Friday night at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum against the Delaware 87ers.