Archives For Brandon Barnes

A new era of Atlanta Hawks basketball began on Saturday night in Dallas. The Kyle Korver-less Hawks took on the Dallas Mavericks in a battle of two teams constantly in the middle of trade rumors. After a mostly pac-and-forth affair, the Hawks made it six wins in a row as they outran the Mavericks in the fourth quarter 97-82.

Much like the North Texas weather, were icy cold from the field. The Hawks had trouble with Harrison Barnes and Devin Harris in the first half, but managed to keep it close during a strong Mavs run. When the starters were inserted back into the lineup near the end of the 2nd quarter, the Hawks gathered some steam and went into halftime with a solid lead.

At one point in the 2nd quarter, two straight Mavs possessions ended in Deron Williams backing down Dennis Schroder in the post. Dennis the Menace flopped both times, resulting in an embarrassing, laughing-at-himself no call, and then a charge on the second. Dennis must be preparing for the Golden Globes this weekend.

The Hawks exploded offensively in the fourth period as they relied on their leader, Paul Millsap. He attacked the Mavs relentlessly and scored ten points in the frame, six of them coming from the foul line.

Hack-a-Dwight returned halfway through the 4th quarter as Rick Carlisle searched for answers. However, Dwight was the victor from the line in this ball game. In total, he shot seven of nine from the charity stripe and four of six during the Hack-a-Dwight period. After failing to make up any serious ground, the Mavs essentially conceded the game by inserting in their reserves with about three minutes remaining, which led us to the 97-82 final score.

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The arraignment for Hawks forward Mike Scott has been set for July 12th, according to the Banks County District Attorney’s Office.

According to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution report, Scott was arrested on July 30th of last year for two felony counts of drug possession after a traffic stop. Officers found 35.2 grams of marijuana and 10.9 grams of MDMA. Scott accepted responsibility for the crime and took the fall for his brother, who was also arrested. Banks County formally filed a notice of accusation against Mike Scott in early June.

It will be interesting to see how Atlanta Hawks management approaches this situation. The arraignment takes place after the start of free agency and the $3.3 million team-option deadline on July 10th. His contract for 2016-2017 becomes guaranteed after that day, per Bobby Marks of The Vertical, but the Hawks may choose to move on if they don’t view him as a valuable asset in the last year of his deal.

Drafted in the 2nd round by the Hawks in 2012 NBA Draft, Mike Scott averaged 6.2 points, 2.7 boards, and one assist per game last season while shooting at a career-high 39.2% clip from three. He turns 28 on July 16th.

More updates to come when they are made available.

 

Ball movement. Playmaking. Teamwork.

These terms have been attributed to the modern-day Atlanta Hawks since the arrival of Coach Mike Budenholzer from San Antonio in 2013. Prior to the revolution, the Hawks had struggled to make it out of NBA purgatory, as a middle-tier team that relied far too heavily on isolation play and inconsistent stars.

Things have changed in Atlanta and it’s evident that the coaching staff is on the look-out for young players to come in and play their style of basketball. No example is more obvious than Hawks rookie Lamar Patterson.

Coming out of Pittsburgh as a senior in 2014, Patterson struggled to gain a ton of traction as a legitimate NBA prospect. In fact, after the Hawks drafted Walter Tavares in the 2nd Round, he wasn’t sure he’d be drafted at all. Luckily for both Lamar and the team that selected him, the Hawks gave up a 2015 2nd rounder to Milwaukee for the 48th overall pick in the 2014 draft and selected the 6’5 swingman from Lancaster, PA. Continue Reading…

In a game full of back-and-forth scoring, rough shooting and the return of ZAZILLA, the Hawks notched back-to-back wins for the first time this season as they made a late push to put away the Dallas Mavericks 98-95.

The Hawks were up by four points going into the fourth (biggest lead in the game being six), but found themselves in a shallow hole with a few minutes to go. Out of a timeout with 3:20 to play, Kyle Korver ran around a screen on the weak side and attracted the defender assigned to Al Horford, leaving Lil’ Tito free for a cutting dunk. After an ensuing 3-pointer by Dallas-area native Deron Williams, the Hawks found themselves down one with just over two and a half minutes remaining.

With 2:20 to play, a spot-up three by Kent Bazemore — thanks to a nifty assist from Jeff Teague — gave the Hawks the lead for good. I asked Bazemore after the game if he could tell me the name of NBA leader in spot-up 3-point percentage. He had no clue. The answer? Kent Bazemore himself, with a dandy 56.7% (entering tonight), courtesy of NBAsavant.com. Here’s Bazemore’s reaction to his clutch shot:

“[The shot] was good, even better pass from Jeff,” said Bazemore. “He got it there … feet set, let it fly!” Continue Reading…

When it comes to confidence, there’s an age-old saying in sports: “never get to high, never get too low.” That’s something Mike Scott talked to me about last year when he was going through a rough shooting spell in December. Just keep on pushing. With the Atlanta Hawks, there certainly haven’t been any dramatically high points this season. No big low points either (unless you want to say the outlier that was the Minnesota game). Coach Mike Budenholzer preaches patience on offense. Finding the best look possible. Giving up a good shot for a great shot. That’s the Atlanta Hawks basketball we’ve become accustomed to over the past few seasons.

So what’s with the recent struggle? Sure, every team faces rough patches in their season – especially early on, right Houston? – which lead fans and pundits alike to ask questions. Skeptics have taken a look at this Hawks team and asked:

“Do they have what it takes to replace DeMarre Carroll?”

“Can the Hawks get over the hump that was in their way last season?”

“Are they regressing to the mean?”

To be completely honest, the offense has been largely unimpressive at times. The Hawks have displayed a lack of ball movement, spacing, and just a bumbling collection of careless mistakes and typical early-season errors. Going into that would take a chapter-book that will have to be illustrated another time.

But wait. It’s not like the offense is bad. We’re in the top 10 in the league with an offensive rating of 103.2 and putting up 101.4 points per game. I’m sure a bunch of teams would be thrilled to produce like the Hawks offensively.

I get the feeling watching these guys that they’re close to reaching their peak. Close, but not there yet. The ideals are there, the Bud system is there, but there are moving parts coming in this season that have forced adjustments. We’re treated to vintage Hawks basketball for a few minutes each game, such as the electric 2nd half against Minnesota (which is something the Hawks are capable of producing against any opponent), but there’s a sloppiness and lack of execution showing through the cracks.

We came into this season thinking that the Hawks would seamlessly adjust to the new roster additions and returning injured players. But some parts of the personnel adjustments this year have been like putting a square peg in a round hole. Other parts have worked better than I thought. And some have the potential to grow into prospering offensive weapons. Some of these examples include Kent Bazemore’s rise as a starter, my affinity for Lamar Patterson as a playmaker and basketball player, and, especially, the adjustments the offense with the addition of Tiago Splitter.

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It was announced last weekend that Mike Scott will miss 4-6 weeks (the remainder of the regular season, possibly into the beginning of the NBA playoffs) with a broken toe on his left foot. Thabo Sefolosha is close to returning from a calf strain that he suffered January 30th against Portland. The Hawks don’t plan on bringing back 10-day contract signee Jarell Eddie and instead have signed Austin Daye to the same short-term deal.

Coach Mike Budenholzer has been resting starters on a game-by-game basis, preparing for a run deep into the playoffs. They seem content on using the players they have and not any major outside help, as shown with the silent trade deadline last month.

But with all of this talk of injuries and sitting starters, don’t you still feel good about these Hawks?

Compared to last season, the Hawks are a completely different squad – except for the fact that they really aren’t. Sure, they signed Kent Bazemore and the aforementioned Sefolosha. Yeah, they’ve had time to gel and find more of a rhythm in Coach Bud’s offense. Sure, they are winning games at a much higher clip this season. But, the biggest change this season – something that seemed so great earlier on in the year – was the health.

Here they are, sitting at the top of the Eastern Conference on the ides of March and they have had only had one major injury to this Mike Scott announcement. Look at the rest of the conference – the rest of the league, for that matter – and you see key players going down.

The Cleveland Cavaliers were without LeBron for eight games at the turn of the new calendar year. Kevin Love has been in and out of the lineup with back issues. The Raptors missed DeMar DeRozan during the month of December. The Pistons lost Brandon Jennings for the season to an Achilles injury. Blake Griffin was out of the Clippers’ lineup for a little over a month. Wesley Matthews is no longer a factor for the Trail Blazers due to a season-ending torn Achilles. Paul George hasn’t played for the Pacers this season due to the gruesome leg injury suffered while playing for Team USA last summer.

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The injury that Mike Scott suffered against Denver a few days ago was more than just a bother. The team announced that Scott has broken his left big toe and will likely miss 4-6 weeks as he recovers.

This is a tough blow for both the team and Scott, who was shooting a career-high 35.3% from the great beyond this season. The emoji-covered forward has provided serious spark off the bench and his quick-trigger shot will be missed during the remainder of the regular season.

My favorite part about watching Scott was his ability to catch fire at any given time. Definitely one of the most confident shooters out there, Scott has not been afraid to throw it up this season. From his hot 3rd quarter in Indianapolis during the playoffs last season to his highlight dunks he’s tallied up this year, Mike Scott has been a fun guy to watch.

The team also announced that they will be signing NBA vet Austin Daye to a 10-day contract. Daye, most recently a member of the Erie BayHawks in the D-League, appeared in 26 games for the San Antonio Spurs earlier this season.

I remember it like it was yesterday… Austin Daye scored 20 points on 9-of-11 against the Hawks back in 2013 when he was a bench player for the Detroit Pistons. His contributions late in the game helped the Pistons win by one point. He infuriated me with his hot shooting that night. I can only hope that now, years after ruining my January 3rd evening, he provides some of the same microwave-like spark normally held by Mike Scott off the bench.

A career 35% three-point shooter, Daye will wear number three for the Hawks.

In other news, the Hawks will not be bringing back Jarell Eddie after his 10-day contract expired this week. They signed him to a deal and he didn’t get any playing time. Huh? I’m a little surprised that Budenholzer didn’t test him out at least once, especially on nights where some starters were rested. The shooting-specialist Eddie will have to leave Atlanta without a bucket on his record.

The Atlanta Hawks announced today that they have signed sharpshooter Jarell Eddie of the NBA Development League’s Austin Spurs to a 10-day contract.

Sure, why not?

The Hawks had an open roster spot after sending Adreian Payne to Minnesota last month and head coach Mike Budenholzer decided to use it on a standout from his old regime’s farm system. (If you didn’t like people comparing the Hawks to San Antonio, then this news probably isn’t great news for your cause)

Undrafted in 2014, Eddie was a member of the Hawks’ training camp squad and appeared in three pre-season games with before being cut and ending up in Austin. Champion of the D-League’s Three-Point Shootout this year, Eddie averaged 11.9 points per game and shot 42.2% from the outside the arc to go along with 3.3 boards and one assist in 25.6 minutes of play.

When looking at motives for the move, you can’t blame Budenholzer for taking a flyer on a guy in the Spurs’ D-League system that has improved his outside shot since his senior year of college. Only time will tell if the player hailed as a Danny Green-like project by Spurs.com turns out to be a good pickup.

There’s a nice little nugget from Eddie in that same Spurs article where he states, “Shooting’s a premium at the NBA level. With the release that I have and the size that I have, I’ve always had the mindset the I’m an NBA player. Now, it’s clear that if you keep working in the D-League, someone will spot you.”

While other teams might’ve spotted that sweet stroke, the Hawks are the first to capitalize.

The 23-year-old Jarell Eddie will wear #3 for the Hawks, so we’ll see if the 6-7′ Virginia Tech alum can provide some of the same offensive punch that pre-ACL LouWill had for the Hawks two years ago.

In the next 10 days, the Hawks take on the Cavaliers, Sixers, Kings, Nuggets, and Suns. You’d think that the NBA-leading Hawks can find a few minutes for Eddie – and the rest of the lesser-used bench – in a few of those contests.

 

I’m gonna say it right off the bat: he doesn’t have the chance yet, but before his career is over, Mike Muscala will be known as a valuable bench weapon.

Casual NBA fans – heck, even casual Hawks fans – might not be familiar with Muscala, a big man who flirts with the chance to take the floor every now and again. The 2013 2nd round draft pick has gotten minor minutes this season; Muscala hasn’t shown anything to prove that he’s a dominant force. However, Moose is growing into player that fits this Hawks system perfectly – a big with range, athleticism, and sound fundamentals.

Coming out of Roseville, Minnesota, Mike Muscala was the 128th ranked power forward in the Class of 2009 high school recruiting class. While his scouting report praised his athleticism and solid post play, he chose to attend Bucknell University, among interest from other smaller schools such as North Dakota, Santa Clara, and South Dakota. Looking at the rest of the big men in that class, the only ones that stand out as productive NBA players are DeMarcus Cousins, Derrick Favors, and John Henson.

So what does that say about Muscala? Again and again he’s looked past the doubters and continued to improve. That started at a small D1 school in college. That continued as a 2nd round draft pick. When I spoke with Mike just before the start of the new calendar year, he told me how the chip on his shoulder doesn’t come from any of those past experiences, but instead the drive to be a contributor for his team, saying, “Now that I’m in the NBA, I’m just trying to prove that within the team, within the year, within the Hawks, I can help. At the end of the day I just want to win.” Continue Reading…

Mike Budenholzer rested Al Horford, DeMarre Carroll, Jeff Teague, and Pero Antic for tonight’s matchup with the Miami Heat. Add that to the previously injured Thabo Sefolosha and the Hawks were missing five key players for a division game.

Yeah, like that matters…

The Hawks used solid rotations and team defense to hold the Heat to 39.5% shooting from the field (27% from deep) and cruised on to win 93-91. Wait? Cruised on? But it was only a two point game! True, but the Heat never provided a serious threat to the lead that Atlanta held for the entire game.

With the Hawks missing two key big men, Elton Brand got the start along side Paul Millsap. First possession of the game and Elton Brand already floated up a short corner jumper. As it clanked off the rim, I wondered if resting so many guys was the right call. Coach Bud would shake his head at that sentence because the Hawks used four early Miami turnovers in the first four minutes – as well as poor shooting – to gain an early cushion.

That cushion never went away.

Hassan Whiteside of the Heat proved early that he was a man amongst boys on the glass. After snatching five rebounds (three offensive) in the first three minutes of action, he went on to tally 24 boards for the game. Twenty-four! He fell three short of matching DeAndre Jordan’s NBA season-high of 27, but made up for it with a few offensive put-backs over three or even four Hawks players. Stopping that guy was nearly impossible.

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