Atkins ready for mentor role
“I thought it was an opportunity to be on a team,” Atkins said of coming to Pistons training camp. “I had nothing to lose when I came into this situation being that I just got released probably three days prior to coming to training camp. I thought it was a good situation for me. I talked to coach (John Kuester). I came in with the expectations of making the team, not necessarily worried about anything else. It worked out for me.”
Atkins role will be much different than his last stint with the team (2000-2004), where he started for two seasons before coming off the bench for two years. Atkins minutes will be very limited and there will be plenty of games where he is inactive.
Atkins said he just wants to help mentor the younger players and thinks his leadership is why he made the team.
“Obviously, you make the team as a long shot, pretty much as the third point guard at the moment, so the only thing I can add is my insight to the game with both Rodney (Stuckey) and Will (Bynum) and be a leader,” Atkins said. “I’ve been around this league for a while, I know what to expect, I know what it takes to win and we got two young guys who I can mentor.”
Atkins did not get much playing time during the preseason, playing a total of 23 minutes in three preseason games, scoring eight points and dishing out three assists. But Atkins did the little things in practice and brought a work ethic that impressed Kuester and Pistons president Joe Dumars enough to keep him around.
"You couldn’t see all the things he did from a positive standpoint," Kuester said, referring to Atkins' role in practice. "He has been a great role model for our young point guards. He’s really done an outstanding job of running the team in practice. I think that’s one of the reasons it came down to us keeping him because he’s challenged both of those players everyday in practice. I’m very impressed with not only what he did on the court, but off the court as well."