Coming into season two, not many players have experienced the same type of transition as DatBoyShotz. Going from a season one powerhouse and championship favorite Blazer5 Gaming to leading the charge of expansion team Hawks Talon GC, not only would Shotz experience a difference in results but also a difference in setting and location. So far so good: the power forward has solidified himself as a leader and, to many, has done an amazing job so far, seamlessly transitioning into the role and embracing it.
Early on in season two, Hawks Talon experienced a lot of issues offensively. With no direct answer at point guard, the Hawks put their own spin on the meta and ended up turning around its season for the better. Shotz moved to the shotcreating post scorer build at the 4, pushing him into a first-option role offensively, where he is averaging 16 points per game, shooting 54% from the field and 67% from beyond the arc. He is also still a force on the defensive end, averaging a league-leading 3.2 steals per game.
I took the opportunity to meet with Shotz at the Turn tournament in Las Vegas so he could speak on some of the differences he has experienced from last year to the current season, his impact on and off the virtual court and the Hawks’ season as a whole. At the time of speaking with Shotz, they were coming off a loss at the Turn and sitting at 3-2 on the regular season. Since then, they have acquired a new point guard in MrStylez and currently sit at 4-3 on the regular season—still in the hunt for a playoff spot.
Len: How has your time with Hawks Talon GC been so far this year?
DatBoyShotz: It’s been great. Just coming in, it’s a new team. And we’re new to the league so there are steps that teams went through last year that we’re going through but it’s been a good time. A lot of people had us, you know, being a really bad team, towards the bottom, and we’ve been working hard and coming back. I mean, we’re 3-2 in the regular season, took a tough loss last night. But I think we have a really high ceiling.
Len: Can you speak more on that? As far as you guys being 3-2 on the season, currently qualifying for a playoff berth right now. Did you expect that coming into this season?
Shotz: Yea, definitely! I think in this league anyone can beat anyone and I felt like our team on paper, it might not be the best, but we’ve been working really hard, we’ve been practicing and I definitely believed in making the playoffs before the season, I still believe that we’ll be in the playoffs.
Sharing is caring. And if you don’t share, these guys will just take. 🤷♂️ @DatBoyShotz continues to lead the league in steals!
Len: Could you speak on your transition from Blazer5 Gaming last year to Hawks Talon this year? What have you found difficult as far as moving from being on a championship contender last year to a new, expansion team this year?
Shotz: Yeah, last year on Portland it was really… I was the third guy there. I was behind two other guys. We had a really stacked team, you know, we went 12-2, won a tournament. And it kind of transitioned to this. Like I said earlier, it’s a fresh start and last year it was really smooth. We were winning games, a lot of games, a lot of games in a row and that always helps. I mean we’re getting there in Atlanta, like I said, we mentioned 3-2. So I’m just trying to bring what I learned, the experience I got from last season—winning games—trying to bring that winning culture, winning vibe to Atlanta.
Len: How does the Hawks organization differ from the Blazer5 organization?
Shotz: Both organizations, I mean Portland treated me really well and the Hawks have treated me very well and I’m just happy to be here and, you know, they put all their trust in me, number one in the expansion (draft), so I’m just trying to go out there and win games.
Len: You mentioned how you were the third option for Blazer5 last year. This year, you’ve taken on more of a leadership role on and off the court. What has that transition been like?
Shotz: Yeah last season, like I said, third guy. I’m kind of like a quiet guy, like you know, when we play, I’ll still talk to my team. But I do a lot of stuff off the court and I feel like I do a lot of stuff that helps the team. Just like, learning it from last year, and bringing it this year. I have to be a little more vocal on this team. I don’t have a [Mama Im Dat Man], I don’t have a [OneWildWalnut] on my team. So, I have guys that talk for me, though. So it’s kind of like the same type of thing but a little different.
Len: Coming into the season, when you didn’t get retained and there was speculation of you being the first pick in the upcoming expansion draft to a new team, did you feel ready to take on a leadership role with whatever team you went to?
Shotz: Yeah, so throughout season one, I already knew there was a chance that I might not be back on the Blazers. And, you know, I knew that for most of the season. And yeah, I was ready for it, I was prepared for it for months. So just going first, I felt like it’s been a good transition.
Len: And so with that transition and you having experience under your belt now, how do you feel you’ve done as a leader so far this season?
Shotz: I feel like I’ve done a good job. Like I said, we’ve been working really hard. And at the beginning of the season, when we first got here, it was looking a little rough. In our practices, in our scrimmages. But we’ve been working very hard and we’re going to continue to do so. We’re not happy with any of the results so far. So just keep pushing throughout the season.
Len: Let’s talk a little bit about your play on the court. Earlier in the season, you started on lockdown and you guys weren’t getting the results you wanted. Then you guys made some changes, Rando moved to point guard, etc. But you also transitioned to the post scorer build. You guys were the first team to run that lineup. This lineup also created a chance to make you the first option offensively. Are you comfortable being that for your team?
Shotz: Yeah, definitely. It was just kind of a thing going into the Tipoff. In the Tipoff, we had a lineup and it didn’t work out. But we have a lot of pieces we can move around. And the post build at the 4 was something we had looked at, even earlier. You know, we lost two games at the Tipoff and didn’t make it out of the group. So we felt like we needed to make a switch and, kind of, revamp our offense pretty much and we felt like that build at the 4… I’m like the second point guard on the floor technically. And it just gives us more offense, gives us more options on the offensive end.
Len: You hit on how you guys kind of came up with the idea of you helping out the offense more. Was it kind of like you guys were just running scrims and you guys tried the lineup and you guys really liked how it felt?
Shotz: Yeah, just practicing. We play against other teams in the online scrims. So, you kinda… It’s a little different from playing on stage, but you kinda see… You get a glimpse of what you can do and what you can’t do.
🔥 @DatBoyShotz went OFF for @HawksTalonGC, pouring in 33 PTS to lead them to the W over Warriors Gaming Squad. https://t.co/pmI1mlE5pY
Len: If you could, a little more on the post scorer position, at the Turn you guys ended up losing to 76ers GC. You went into that game on the shotcreating sharpshooter shooting guard. You made that decision even though they didn’t ban the post scorer position. Can you talk a little bit on your decision to make that change?
Shotz: Yeah, we were just in Miami for three, four, five days, bootcamping with the Heat. And we were just preparing for every type of ban they threw out. They decided to ban our shooting guard lock and I had a lot of reps on the shooting guard, Dev had a lot of reps on the 4. So we felt like we were comfortable with it. We were playing good with it in practice. Maybe it was the right choice, maybe it wasn’t… Who knows. I don’t know what would’ve happened if I played the 4 but, I mean, we’ll see what we do moving forward.
Len: Definitely, hindsight is always 20/20. So yeah you’ve already talked about where you guys are at currently, 3-2 in the regular season as an expansion team. Can you talk to us about how you feel you guys will do the rest of the season?
Shotz: I’m not going to guarantee anything but I definitely think we’re a playoff team. Like I said, we’re 3-2. We have two 2-point losses in the regular season. We could be 5-0 right now. Took a tough loss last night in the Turn. But there’s a lot of time left, a lot of season left. And I just think we’re going to get better. And I think we’re still going to be trending upwards towards the end of the season.