Hawks Summer League Recap
After taking a few days to step back and look at what the Hawks accomplished this summer, here’s my breakdown of each player:
Jenkins had perhaps the most attention on him before the summer began. Last season’s first-round pick was expected to be a leader of the group, and for the most part, he didn’t disappoint. Though he didn’t shoot well (just 38%), his week was filled with quality shot attempts that just didn’t fall. As I said repeatedly throughout the week, quality looks are far more important than shooting percentage, and Jenkins rarely forced the issue. He made all 15 free throws he took and exhibited a level of confidence as the leader of the summer group that he didn’t have last season as a rookie, which was to be expected. I hope Jenkins grows into that leadership role and keeps the confidence high, because when he does get hot (and yes, it’s a “when”, not an “if”), he will be hard to stop.
Along with Jenkins, Scott knew he had to step up and play the role of leader on a very young summer team. After getting limited minutes last season, Scott proved he could play this summer. Recognizing he’s undersized for a forward, he has spent much of the offseason working to get quicker and mastering the mid-range jumper. Both seemed to be on display in Las Vegas. He shot 46 percent from the field, most of which were shots over taller defenders, and he ran the floor well. Defense is still a bit of an issue, but he’s working to get stronger to make up for the height disparity. He led the Hawks with 18.6 PPG and 6.2 RPG and made 31 of 34 free throws. All in all, it was a very good summer for the Virginia standout.
After spending the first part of last season in the D-League, Mack was the eventual replacement for Lou Williams into the playoffs. The Hawks wanted to get him some more time on the court and a head start on Coach Bud’s system, so they put him on the Summer League roster. Mack spent the whole summer backing up rookie Dennis Schröder but did well during limited playing time. While Schröder certainly dazzled at times, Mack seemed to have better control of the game and played a little slower, which is a positive thing. He uses his body well to grab rebounds (2.4 RPG this summer), and his assist-to-turnover ratio was better than Schröder’s. Coach Quin Snyder did play the two together more than I thought he would, and the offense was actually better for much of that time. Who knows what the season will bring.
Schröder was the talk of Summer League by the time the Hawks had concluded their fifth and final game. Many had doubts about whether the 19-year-old German phenom would be able to step in and run an NBA offense right away, but Schröder seemed to adjust well. Most importantly, he got better as the summer progressed, particularly on the defensive end. After a rough start defensively, he ended up holding his own against two great point guards in the team’s final two games. Though there were times when he may have tried to go too fast, his 10.8 PPG and 28 total assists show that he is deserving of a roster spot, at least as it stands now. As he grows into his body, he’ll only become more dangerous.
Like Schröder, Nogueira needs to grow into his body and add muscle. There were too many instances of him getting pushed off the block on the offensive end, which speaks to a lack of strength. He’s only 20, so we can’t criticize him too much, but he knows he needs to work on his body. Defensively, he shined at times but was undisciplined at other times. He’s a guy who tries to block every shot, which worked overseas but won’t work in the states. It led to a lot of foul trouble for him this summer. He’ll need to learn to stay on his feet around the rim, which should come with time and coaching. Of the Hawks who got regular playing time this summer, I’d say Nogueira is least likely to make the roster. It doesn’t mean he won’t, it just means he has the most to work on. One thing I will say – He’s a walking highlight reel.
Atlanta’s second round pick had a very good summer. In just 18 minutes per game, he averaged a little more than five rebounds and shot 41 percent. I know he would have liked to have done better from the floor, but he made some nice mid-range jumpers. He’s a guy who can pop off screens and knock down open shots, similar to Al Horford. He got pushed around a bit on the defensive end, so he’ll have to work on holding his position. But at 6’11”, he’s a guy with a lot of potential who I think the Hawks can develop.
Defense and shooting were the two glaring weaknesses of the summer. The shooting, as I’ve said, I’m not too worried about because that will even out as long as quality shot attempts continue to be there. The defense, on the other hand, is definitely a concern. For some of the players, an improvement on the defensive end will come with strength. The bigs were getting pushed around, and the team gave up too many offensive rebounds. Perimeter defense was a shade better, as most shots were contested. The next step is forcing more jump shots, and limiting opponents to one shot per possession. One positive note about the defense was the forced turnovers. Atlanta was active all weekend, forcing as many as 30 in the Miami game and 20+ in several others. Offensively, the guys worked hard for quality looks. Coach Bud’s offense involves a lot of player movement and ball movement, so opportunities will be there. With the roster the Hawks are putting together, it appears as though they’ll need that style in order to find ways to score. This summer was a good start.