Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images

Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images

Have you ever known a thing — or a person — to be present in your life for nine years, only for them to walk out/exist no more after one June night? Well, that’s the reality of what happened to Hawks fans with Al Horford this summer — the All-Star center who left the only professional team he has ever known to join the Boston Celtics.

Horford was a constant in Atlanta ever since the day he was selected by the Hawks with the third overall pick in 2007, and the thought of him not being a part of the pre game player announcements (and part of the Hawks as a whole, of course) is certainly an odd thing to think about now, let alone actually seeing (or not seeing him in this case) the reality of situation on opening night.

Normally the thought of Al Horford leaving Atlanta would have been near catastrophic as the Hawks aren’t normally known for attracting the top free agents, thus filling the void Horford left (who certainly ranks among the better centers in the league) would’ve proved very difficult. But the Hawks did not leave anything to chance in an unpredictable free agency and decided to bring a center on board, even before Horford announced his intentions to sign with the Celtics.

But the Hawks didn’t just acquire any center, they acquired a high profile center — at least in terms of his name — in Dwight Howard. While the Hawks aren’t getting the best version of Dwight Howard, he was a very big fish for the Hawks to catch — the Hawks don’t normally sign players with a name as big as Dwight Howard’s. But what his signature provided the Hawks with was a very decent safety net in the event Horford did choose to leave, which he ultimately did. With Dwight’s signature agreed upon, losing Horford was not as catastrophic as it could’ve been.

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(Source: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images North America)

(Source: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images North America)

Normally I’d begin a column with some sort of introductory paragraph, loosely relating to the general topic of the column — in some sort of way — before getting on with the topic itself. Today I don’t feel like doing that, so we’re going to just jump straight into it — no foreplay today…

Last night the Atlanta Hawks’ regular season schedule was released, and there’s much to dissect and discuss.

The Hawks will have the benefit of beginning their season at home on October 27th against a division rival, the Washington Wizards — one of three games the Hawks will contest in October before the season shifts into gear in November.

We’re going to go through each month individually, but before we do there are some significant dates and items to mention:

  • The oh-so awaited return of Al Horford (and the Boston Celtics) to Atlanta is January 13th, which is way too long to wait, in my opinion. The game will be broadcasted on ESPN and it should be a fantastic game. Jeff Teague will make his Atlanta return on March 15th, but the Hawks and Pacers will meet in Indiana before that on November 27th. Atlanta’s marquee signing, Dwight Howard, will make his return to Houston on February 2nd, and I can’t imagine he’ll receive a video tribute or a warm reception from Houston and their fans respectively. The Rockets roll into Atlanta early enough in the season though, November 5th.
  • Very controversially, the Hawks will not host a game on Martin Luther King Day. Instead the Hawks will travel to New York where they’ll face the Knicks on MLK Day. This has left fans incensed and very upset at this scheduling decision made by the NBA. Since I’m not from the United States, I don’t fully understand or feel the same range of emotions that a lot of Hawks fans are feeling about this decision, but I understand that this is a big deal. The guys over at Peachtree Hoops shed some light on why the Hawks not hosting an MLK is a strange occurrence.

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Feature Image: Marina Kobzeva/Getty Images

A lot can happen in 12 months — those possessing any meaningful life experience can attest to that. And it’s a statement that’s going to ring very true when the Hawks tip off again in October.

Last year, fans watched Dennis Schröder head to the scorers table in the latter stages of the first quarter, kneel down, and prepare to replace starting point guard, Jeff Teague. This year — instead — they’re going to watch Dennis Schröder head to the bench to check out, as Hawks PA Announcer Ryan Cameron announces to the crowd Dennis’ replacement “In for the Hawks, number five, Malcolm Delaney!”

And for the uninformed/average fan (heck, maybe even the slightly above average Hawks fan) the next word that will be on the tip of many fans’ tongues will be “Who???”. And perhaps other fans may ask, in addition,  “Who is this dude, and why does he kind of look like Mike Scott??”.

(Please tell me I’m not the only one who sees the resemblance…)

On the left, Malcolm Delaney, and on the right, Mike Scott

On the left, Malcolm Delaney, and on the right, Mike Scott

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Delaney looking to take his talents to Atlanta.


 

When the Hawks signed point guard Malcolm Delaney, who had last played stateside five years ago as a senior member of the Virginia Tech Hokies, it was the culmination of nine years of official and unofficial scouting. The current Atlanta Hawks assistant general manager, Jeff Peterson, got a firsthand look at his talent and almost a decade later Peterson is finally employing Delaney’s services.

After going undrafted in 2011, Delaney bounced around overseas on a journey that took him across two continents. The list of teams he has played for is almost indecipherable for those unfamiliar with the Euroleague. His first three years playing internationally were season-long stops as a member of Elan Chalon of the top-tier French LNB Pro A, then the Budivelnyk Kyiv of the Ukrainian SuperLeague, then a year with a sporting club you may have actually heard of in Bayern Munich.

The last two years, Delaney spent with PBC Lokomotiv-Kuban, which based in Krasnodar, Russia and a part of a newly formed top-tier league in Russia. Their league, VTB United League, is mostly comprised of Russian teams but essentially covers a large swath of Eastern Europe and parts of Asia, from Kazakhstan to the Czech Republic.

In all, it’s a remarkable journey for a player who could have laid his NBA dreams to rest after going undrafted. Similarly, for the Hawks, this contract is the culmination of much more travel, note-taking and deliberation than the casual fan would realize. Continue Reading…

Feature Image: Bart Young/NBAE/Getty Images

With an 89-79 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies last night, the Atlanta Hawks wrapped their Summer League adventure. Taurean Prince, DeAndre’ Bembry, and Isaia Cordinier were all rested but the Hawks still managed to get the job done, and wrapped up their Las Vegas trip with a 4-2 record.

This seems like a good opportunity to go over how well Atlanta’s draft selections got on in their first taste of NBA basketball. Well, NBA-ish basketball, there’s an awful lot of guys who (sadly) won’t be on rosters, but anyways… Oh, we’ll also talk about Edy too.

Before we get cracking, I’d be remiss to mention Lamar Patterson at this point, who I thought played very well in the three games he played before he was waived. He has been claimed off of the waiver wire by the Sacramento Kings, so that’s good news for LP. Ha-ha, well, good that a team claimed him, maybe not good that it’s Sacramento. Anyways, all the best, Lamar.

If you’re interested in how players like Brandon Ashley, Kevin Pangos etc. got on for the Hawks during Summer League, you can check out the team’s stats here. Also, I know Lamar Patterson got cut during Summer League, but there’s no need to not type his name out. He exists, you know. Ah, forget it…

(Just one more piece of housekeeping, just a heads up there’s a lot of footage to be shown today. Not so much analysing/breaking down footage, but more so just showing it, but just a heads up)

Taurean Prince

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Feature Image: David Dow/NBAE/Getty Images

Behind an awful second half, the Atlanta Hawks were defeated 60-71 by the Washington Wizards in Las Vegas Summer League. The Hawks, who led by at least 17 points in the third quarter, were outscored 46-23 in the second half (which included a 30-8 Washington run) and 26-12 in the fourth quarter.

The loss means the Hawks will not advance to the quarter finals of the tournament phase, but their run in Vegas is not over yet. They will now duke it out with Memphis in the consolation bracket later today, 8 p.m ET.

Although the final result is a disappointing one, there were plenty of positives to be had. Specifically, the performances of Edy Tavares and Taurean Prince.

The Edy Tavares Show

Edy Tavares put on a shot blocking clinic yesterday with five blocked shots, four of which came in the first half. Apparently the Wizards didn’t get the 7″3 warning not to come into Atlanta’s paint…

Check out Edy’s highlight reel from this game, oh my goodness, there were some absolute gems…

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Feature Image: Bart Young/NBAE/Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks advanced to the round of 16 of the Las Vegas Summer League as they dispatched the Sacramento Kings 81-61. The win sets up a meeting with the Washington Wizards, a team the Hawks have already beaten in Las Vegas.

Thankfully this was a much more entertaining game than the Nets game was, with a 1000 less fouls called (although, to make up, there were 1000 more turnovers committed), and a number of players bounced back with strong performances after struggling against Brooklyn.

Taurean Prince recorded a game high 21 points on 5-of-11 shooting and 2-for-2 from behind the arc, while also cashing in on all nine of his free throw attempts. He also collected nine rebounds.

He looked great yesterday, looked really confident when it came to shooting the ball, and was easily the best player on the court. He was super fun to watch yesterday.

DeAndre’ Bembry also had a good bounce back game — 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting, including this tasty dunk all over Willie Cauley-Stein.

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Feature Image: Garrett Ellwood/NBAE/Getty Images

The Hawks dropped yesterday’s contest with the Brooklyn Nets — 65-72 — in what was, let’s be honest, a pretty ugly affair with about a thousand foul calls. After five Hawks (now 2-1 in Vegas) scored in double figures against the Wizards, only two could do so yesterday, Brandon Ashley leading the way with 11 points — no one played particularly well at all.  We’ll get to the other Hawk who scored in double digits in a second…

Before we do that though, a quick shoutout to former Hawks assistant and new Brooklyn Nets head coach, Coach Kenny Atkinson, who’s coaching the Nets’ Summer League team and they look like a very well drilled side, much more organised than the two sides the Hawks faced prior to the Nets — Houston and Washington. So, props to you, Coach Atkinson.

Taurean Prince makes his Hawks debut

Despite no one playing that well for the Hawks, there’s (thankfully) something to talk about and that is the debut of the 12th overall pick of the draft, Taurean Prince, who finally received clearance from the league to play, after the trade sending Jeff Teague to Indiana was finalized. He scored 10 points and came up with four steals in just under 23 minutes of action.

Before the game, it was unclear how much we would see of Prince, or if we would see him at all since he hadn’t been allowed to so much as practise with the team until that trade was finalized (which it was just before this game). Because Prince hadn’t been able to practise, it was rumoured that his debut might was going to be pushed back to Wednesday — so that he would at least have a training session to acclimate himself on the court — but that wasn’t the case and we got to see him in action yesterday.

I’m not going to say he played outstandingly well, but he did pretty well considering that he went out there having not had the opportunity to practise with his teammates and having to figure things out on the fly. Some of his shots were a bit un-Hawksy, but that’s to be expected when you haven’t been able to practise.

Let’s go through some of the good things Prince did yesterday.

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Feature Image: Patrick Smith/Getty Images North America

Game 2 of Atlanta’s Las Vegas Summer League adventures saw the Hawks prevail over the Washington Wizards (88-80) behind a three-point clinic from the Hawks. Bryce Cotton led the way with 21 points.

The Hawks now improve to 2-0 in Las Vegas while the Wizards fall to 1-1.

Again, I’m not going to run over everything from this game. This is more so an opportunity to look at the rookies (Bembry and Prince [once he’s cleared to play]) and the other Hawks under contract (Tavares and Patterson), since it’s pretty unlikely that any of these other guys on the Hawks’ summer league roster are going to make the roster come October. With the breaking news that Jarrett Jack is signing with the Hawks on a one year deal, the Hawks’ roster count stands 16, meaning that they’ll have to cut someone from their existing squad as it is, let alone consider adding another player.

And that’s not to say that these guys couldn’t make it on another team’s roster — I imagine Bryce Cotton and Kevin Pangos will be snapped up somewhere — but it’s just unlikely that that roster will be Atlanta’s roster.

Lamar Patterson’s facilitation on show again

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Feature Image: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images North America

Yep, it’s that time again: summer league. Get a good long look, folks, because once summer league is over we’ll be without basketball (besides the Olympics of course) until October…

Besides, it’s also a great opportunity to take a look at some young players — mainly rookies — on show, which include some players actually under contract on NBA rosters.

The Hawks have quite a few rookies to showcase this year too. Once Taurean Prince — the 12th overall pick — is cleared to play we’ll get to see him, we got to see DeAndre’ Bembry in action, future Hawk (stashed second round pick) Isaia Cordinier is over for summer league, and we got to see slightly more familiar faces such as Edy Tavares and Lamar Patterson in action too.

Quick rookie/Edy roundup

First up on the schedule in Las Vegas were the Houston Rockets. The Hawks prevailed in a 83-78 victory, and everyone is talking about the 21st overall pick, DeAndre’ Bembry, who showed Hawks fans, and neutrals alike, his ability to do a little bit of everything scoring 14 points, collecting five rebounds, and dishing out four assists. He also played some solid defense on a number of occasions, which was encouraging to see.

I was impressed with Bembry’s playmaking ability and how he got to the free throw line, where he shot 5-for-7.

Something that stood to me was during the very first possession of the game he handled the ball and the ball was often in his hands throughout the night, something you should expect to see often in summer league and, maybe, when he comes off the bench in the NBA — just on a lesser scale. A very good start for Bembry as a Hawk, I think the fans are really going to enjoy watching him play.

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