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

Many fans across the league rejoiced when they heard the news that eight time All-Star, five time First Team All-NBA, and three time Defensive Player of the Year Dwight Howard was coming home. Home to his native Atlanta. But as the city and the fans welcome home own of their, Atlanta cries for the loss its true son, who has left the nest after nine years.

Al Horford is gone, painting his Twitter account in green, indeed showing his intentions to sign with Boston Celtics on July 7th.

I’m still in utter disbelief. Throughout the night I tossed and turned, the Tweet announcing his next chapter embedded in my head. The moment he sent out this Tweet, you knew there was no going back DeAndre Jordan style.

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For the most part, day 1 of NBA free agency frenzy was thought to have been won by Mike Conley’s 5-year $153 million dollar deal with the Grizzlies (largest deal in NBA history), only to be outdid by the Atlanta Hawks signing Dwight Howard to a 3-year $70.5 million dollar deal shortly after. The hometown kid returns to his roots where we were first introduced to the 6”10 slender teenager with the Hollywood smile, as he dawned a #12 for Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy. Fast-forward 3 teams in 12 years later and his presence couldn’t come at a better time.

 

 

The Hawks have a history of having trouble acquiring star power, especially through free agency, and the low attendance numbers over the years are a direct result. Dwight’s signing doesn’t mean sold out games every night, automatic championship contenders, but what it means is the organization’s unwillingness to hunt big names is a narrative of the past. Owner Tony Ressler, GM Wes Wilcox and Coach Mike Budenholzer have decided that in order to every cross the bridge towards relevancy and appeal to the rest of the league, it will first need to establish a precedent and that’s what this acquisition does. Now the Hawks job isn’t done, they will need to surround Dwight with the pieces to legitimately contend for a championship. Paul Millsap and Kyle Korver still remain from the All-star foursome selected to represent in New York a year ago. Bazemore played the best basketball of his career this season and will return after signing a 4-year $70 million dollar deal and a confident Dennis Schroder steps into the starting point guard spot.

 

The 3- time defensive player of the year leaves an offense first, offense second, oh, and then defense third mentality in Houston; and now joins one of the best defensive coaches in the league. The Hawks have finished in the top three of defensive rating over the past two seasons. What Budenholzer has done is highly impressive, given the lack of size and rebounding capabilities on the roster; he now he has a game-changing player with the ability to secure both of those deficiencies. Atlanta has sorely missed that imposing defensive presence anchoring, sort of similar to what Tyson Chandler meant to those Dallas Maverick teams, an already outstanding group of perimeter defenders who do a terrific job of swarming ballhandlers and speeding up offenses Al Horford and Paul Millsap did all they could, playing much bigger than their listed size. However, now with Howard, Hawks are in a great spot frontcourt wise, because either Millsap stays at his designed position or Horford finally slides to the power forward spot where many believe he can be most productive in.

 

Another important note is that due to Budenholzer’s all hands on deck philosophy; he has been able to keep the minutes of his two cherished big men to a minimum, Horford logging in 31.9 minutes and Millsap logging in 33 minutes per game over the past 3 seasons, another refreshing sign for Howard.

 

Over the past couple seasons Dwight has not looked like the Superman we saw in Orlando, much of that can be attributed to injuries (knees and back) and poor coaching philosophies he was forced to endure. However, he is not absolved of blame, defense is all about effort and his effort was questioned much of the season as he looked disengaged at time. The injuries is one thing Atlanta is taking a risk on, but the mental stability is much more riskier. Howard discussed the situation in Houston on Inside the NBA on TNT during the playoffs.

 

“As a big, sometimes you want to feel a part of what’s going on,” Howard said on TNT. “If I could bring the ball up the court, shoot threes, go between the legs and do all that stuff, that would be great. But I have to rely on my teammates to get the ball. Now, there have been times where I’ve been upset and I’ve taken myself out of games in situations, and that’s on me. I have to grow to be a better player at that.”

 

Howard’s played 71 games and the entire first round, so the issue wasn’t physical, but much more a mental block. He averaged just 13.7 points per game, the second lowest of his career on just 8.5 field goals a game, on a team that took 7,392 regular season threes during his tenure. He now joins a philosophy that believes in ball movement and has shown that they don’t mind playing through their bigs, two factors that I’m sure played a large part in his decision. Howard will certainly find much more comfort playing with a willing passer in Dennis Schroder, especially in pick n roll situations forcing defenses into a tough circumstance with shooters on the perimeter. This scheme also promotes lower post passing between its big to create easier scoring opportunities as he would likely post and catch or catch and go closer to the rim. A similar scheme is currently ran on the clippers between Blake Griffin and Deandre Jordan whenever they play two-man game from a Hi-lo setting; Millsap is just as much, if not more, of a floor stretcher as Griffin and an excellent passer too.

 

The possibilities with this team, under this coach are limitless for Howard as long as he stays healthy and engaged. He is now 30 years old with an injurious history and has been apart of enough drama to launch a Netflix series. More than ever before, Dwight’s legacy will be impacted, in his hometown, as an Atlanta Hawk.