Hawks Put on a Show at Open Practice
The Hawks held Open Practice Saturday night for the fans to get their first look at a bunch of new players and a new coaching staff as they prepare for the start of the season.
Boy, was it fun.
All 20 players got to play significant minutes in a game that was shortened to 36 minutes. Gustavo Ayón ended up leading all scorers with 18 points. Ayón was aggressive and physical all night long, banging down low with Paul Millsap, Mike Scott and Al Horford.
Speaking of Horford, he also looked very good, finishing with 15 points, seven rebounds and three assists. In talking with him after the game, he said he loves Coach Bud’s new system and is impressed with everybody’s spacing and ability to run the floor.
Kyle Korver is back in a Hawks uniform, and the veteran proved tonight why he is still one of the most lethal shooters in the NBA. He hit four three-pointers and finished with 14 points. Guys were looking for him all night, and the minute he got space he was able to deliver. In particular, look for Horford to find him from the low post when he gets double-teamed, as he did a few times tonight.
Pero Antić hit three three-pointers, proving that the widely regarded range he was touted for can hold up in the NBA. At 6’11”, I’d like to see him get more physical in the post, but I think the ruggedness of the American game will solve that. Even though he’s 31, we have to remember that he’s still a rookie.
Perhaps no one had a better all-around game than Paul Millsap. The stats show 11 points and six rebounds, but he was aggressive and involved on both ends of the floor from the get-go. He’s a guy who’s not afraid to bang in the post, and, like many of the forwards, can run the floor well.
DeMarre Carroll will also give maximum effort on the defensive end, but tonight he also showed off his three-point stroke, hitting a few in the first scrimmage. Hawks.com’s Robby Kalland said Carroll has been working on his range, and it showed tonight.
Jeff Teague was the only player with a double-double, finishing with 11 points and 11 rebounds. His battle with rookie Dennis Schröder was fun to watch all night, and the fact that the two of them have each other to go against in practice should make them both better come game time.
The highlight of the night was a half-court alley-oop from Royal Ivey to Jared Cunningham, who finished with a reverse dunk in mid-air. It was pretty sweet.
Lou Williams did not play in the scrimmage, as he’s still rehabbing from a torn ACL. 17 of the 19 Hawks who did play scored. Mike Scott led all players with nine rebounds.
After the scrimmage, Coach Bud said he was very pleased with the ball movement and spacing offensively. He said the team was sloppy at times, but that overall he was happy with how the scrimmage went. He noted that they’ll have to do a better job of closing on shooters defensively.
I have to agree with him about the offense. I think Hawks fans are going to love watching how this team plays this season.
Teague said it was a lot of fun to play in front of the fans and that the offensive system is fun to be a part of.
The Hawks now turn their attention to Miami for Monday night’s preseason opener.