Archives For David Vertsberger

The NBA’s Summer League isn’t the best place to make concrete judgments about players, but it can still be an effective platform in finding new quirks in returning athletes’ games, or specific skills of newcomers that can help in the long run. Hawkshoop will be bringing you these observations throughout Atlanta’s journey through the Vegas Summer League, starting with their opener against the Washington Wizards.

  • Mike Muscala really surprised today with a dribble-drive game that we didn’t see nearly this often last year. Moose was attacking on nearly every touch, using the pump fake to his advantage and creating A LOT of open looks. He rarely, if ever, went up for a shot on these takes, but was connecting perfectly on his kick outs to open shooters. Doubt this can translate well, but it was very fun to see. On the defensive end, Muscala continued to put his I.Q. on display, rotating when needed and abusing the verticality rule. However, the opposition still had no trouble actually scoring on him. If this is an issue in Vegas, it’ll still be one in the NBA unfortunately. Unsure whether the problem is lack of intimidation or mass, but it needs to be remedied if Muscala wants to be an effective defender at the next level.
  • Adreian Payne came out firing, putting up any shot that looked appealing to him. No problem with this, since a player’s first Summer League game can come with jitters and shooting your way into a rhythm can help. His shots weren’t falling, but plenty were good looks off pick-and-pops that he will get at the next level. He also showed off his athleticism with a nasty put-back slam, and was able to make good things happen out of the post. Only the first game of Summer League, but Hawks fans have to like what they have in Payne if his shot can fall at an efficient rate.

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Sam Amick and David Aldridge have confirmed a report by RealGM’s Shams Charania that the Atlanta Hawks have inked former member of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Chicago Bulls, Thabo Sefolosha. The contract is a reported $12 million over three years, or $4 million a season.

Sefolosha has been a key cog in Oklahoma City’s dominance for five straight seasons, starting in every game he’s played in since the 2009-10 season. His meal ticket? Defense. Sefolosha would regularly guard the Thunder’s best opposing player on a nightly basis, and did it well. Offensively, Sefolosha didn’t bring much to the table, but for a couple of seasons was knocking down the three-point shot at an over 40% rate.

So why did the Thunder bench this fitting role player during the 2014 Playoffs? His efficiency sunk, possibly because of the calf troubles that caused him to miss a chunk of games in the latter part of the year. Sefolosha was suddenly a liability on the offensive end, unable to make defenses pay for helping off him. Thabo is now 30 years old, so he won’t be developing any new skills on the offensive end that can offset his shaky jumper, and it won’t be long before his defense begins sliding.

However, for the interim, Sefolosha is a solid get for the Hawks. He’s still very much there defensively, and if the Hawks can get him to connect on an average rate from downtown in their system, he’ll be a big plus. As for where he fits in, I’d imagine he’ll be a reliever for DeMarre Carroll who had to chase around the league’s best for Atlanta all season long. The Hawks needed depth at the wing spot and now they have it.

It’s been a couple of days since free agency began, and the Hawks have signed their first new player. Welcome to Atlanta, Thabo.

With the 43rd overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Atlanta Hawks have picked Walter Tavares, one of the more intriguing second round prospects of this class.

The Cape Verde import stands at 7’3″ with an even greater wingspan, garnering lots of attention from alma mater of Mike Budenholzer and Danny Ferry, the San Antonio Spurs. Tavares is primarily a rebounder and shot-blocker right now, with everything else very much raw. The good news is he is open to play abroad to develop before coming to the NBA.

Although the Hawks are now stacked in the frontcourt, Tavares is a safe draft-and-stash pick whose rights can, in all likelihood, be dealt for another second round pick if need be.

You can read his full DraftExpress profile here.

The Hawks also traded a future second round pick for Lamar Patterson, the 48th overall pick that originally belonged to the Milwaukee Bucks. Patterson is a 22 year old shooting guard out of Pittsburgh who was named to the all-ACC second team. With Atlanta currently sporting Kyle Korver, Lou Williams and John Jenkins at the two, Patterson could be stashed overseas for the time being.

You can check out his DraftExpress profile here.

With the 2014 NBA Draft just around the corner, I sat down with a few potential Atlanta Hawks draftees during the NBA’s media availability session to get their takes on what kind of players they wanted to model their games after, how their workouts with Atlanta went and how they would fit in with the Hawks’ schemes.

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With the 2014 NBA Draft just a couple of days away, mock drafts have predicted the Hawks to go in several different directions with their 15th overall pick. Chad Ford‘s latest work has Atlanta selecting Shabazz Napier as a replacement for Jeff Teague, while Yahoo! Sports expects the Hawks to take Jusuf Nurkic so they can “move Al Horford to his more natural power forward position.” Though nothing can be said for certain as to who the Hawks will be drafting on Thursday night, there’s plenty to sort out as far as what they don’t need, what they might and what they do need.

Don’t Need:

  • A center to “move Al Horford to his more natural power forward position.” Why is this still being said? Al Horford was on his way to having the best season of his career at the five. The NBA is progressively getting smaller so Atlanta wants a 6’10” unproven three-point shooter at the four? What happens to Paul Millsap? Is any center available at this point going to even turn out to be anything more than a decent starter? This is silly.
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What’s the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions Kyle Korver’s name? In nine out of ten cases, it’s probably going to be that deadly stroke. A 42.5% career three-point shooter, Korver’s marksmanship is going to go down in the first line of his bio, forever. Such was the case this season, when Korver connected on a ridiculous 47.2% of his threes – which led the league – while breaking the NBA record (and by a mile) for most consecutive games with a three pointer made. This streak was as good a representation of Korver’s dedication to the craft as could be, and it captivated Hawks fans night in and night out.

“For Hawks fans, it became incredibly special as the season took a downward spiral. Injury after injury, game after game, the team was getting weaker and falling in the standings. But every game, Korver prevailed with this streak to give the fans something to watch, something to hope for, and something to get excited about the next time around,” wrote HawksHoop’s own Bo Churney when the streak finally ended. Continue Reading…

Shelvin Mack didn’t come into the 2013-14 season as a surefire second string point guard, but it certainly ended with him being one. Mack showed some good signs in his 20 games as a Hawk late last season after being picked up as a free agent, but seemingly held the third string position coming into this year with Atlanta’s drafting of import Dennis Schroder. The rookie struggled with transitioning to the NBA game, allowing Mack to step in and cement his role on the team. After five DNP-CD’s in the year’s first nine games, Mack went on to average 20.4 minutes over 73 games.

With all of Jeff Teague’s inconsistency this year, it was always a breath of fresh air whenever Mack checked into the game. Not because he’s a better player, but he’s one that you can expect to bring relatively the same thing every night out. It also doesn’t hurt that what he brought was solid shooting, few giveaways and the ability to play system defense.

The increase in playing time was quickly justified, as throughout the season Mack was as steady and reliable a backup as one could hope for. He ranked tenth among qualified point guards in assist-to-turnover ratio, as good a descriptor as any for his stability with the rock. Almost 30% of his possessions ended in an assist, a huge mark that’s a testament to his ability to a run an offense. Mack was rarely out of control with the ball in his hands, only forcing shots when the entirety of the team’s was stagnant or the shot clock was running down. Continue Reading…

With his blistering on-ball speed and a change of pace that leaves defenders in the dust, it’s no mystery as to why many Hawks fans agree that an aggressive Jeff Teague is the best Jeff Teague. Shooting 38% from mid-range and 32% from downtown, logic would presume the optimal method of attack for Teague is getting to the basket instead of settling for jumpers.

However, on some nights we’ll see a timid Teague, one refusing to take advantage of his talents and instead doesn’t actively look to get into the paint. Being the only Hawks starter with a dribble-drive game, this Teague stagnates and diminishes spacing on an offense that is predicated on ball movement and is third in (pace-adjusted) three-point attempts per game.

At least, that’s what the “eye test” suggests. Statistics on the other hand convey that not only is Teague consistently assertive, but he’s actually one of the more hungry attackers in the league.

Per SportVU, Teague ranks fourth in the NBA in drives per-36 minutes, with “drives” being defined as when a player dribbles the ball from 20-feet out to within 10 feet of the basket. According to this, Teague not only consistently looks to find gaps in the defense but does so more than a vast majority of the NBA. The kicker? Atlanta’s netting 10.7 points per game on Teague drives, which ranks 7th in the league.

So what is creating this image of Teague only being aggressive on certain nights?

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Hawks 93, Nets 88

David Vertsberger —  April 11, 2014

FINAL

BKN.gif(43-36) 88 – 93 (36-43)ATL

Key Performers:
P. Millsap (ATL): 27 pts, 10 reb
J. Teague (ATL): 22 pts
[FULL BOX SCORE]

Atlanta’s magic number is now 1 after an impressive, albeit surprising victory over the Nets. Surprising in the context of this game, not in general (the Nets were without Deron Williams, Shaun Livingston and Andray Blatche,) as the Hawks went 1-18 from three point range and had three sub-twenty point quarters yet somehow pulled away by five. A narrow margin in favor of the Nets dissipated in the second quarter thanks to strong minutes by the bench squad, and Atlanta soon pulled ahead to go up by double-digits. The Hawks scored a whopping 39 points in that second quarter thanks to some crisp defense, a whole lot of Jeff Teague and transition basketball. After a third quarter where Atlanta cooled off and just barely clung on to their lead, the fourth quarter turned into a back-and-forth affair that favored the Hawks in the final minutes. Down three with 47 ticks to go, the Nets looked to Joe Johnson, who was suffocated by DeMarre Carroll, forcing the miss. Teague took it down the other end and dropped in a floater off a high screen and roll. Ball game.

Reaction grades [assessed 0-10]:

Paul Millsap: A perfect game from Paul Millsap tonight, coming up huge in a must-win. Having to guard smaller opponents all night, Millsap stood up to the task without fault, holding Paul Pierce to 5-14 shooting and still helping on the interior. On the offensive end, Millsap came up with some big buckets in the fourth and finished with a big 27-point night on 10-19 shooting from the field. He also collected 10 rebounds. 10/10

Elton Brand: Coach Bud elected to not overplay Elton Brand a whole lot tonight, but in his 22 minutes of action he was his usual effective self on both ends. Most impressively, he totaled four blocks and two steals over that stretch. He also put home a couple of baby jumpers in the early going. 9/10

Jeff Teague: Jeff Teague had a field day tonight, especially in the time where he was matched up with his younger brother, Marquis. Oh, poor Marquis. Jeff went to town with a slew of crossovers and takes to the rim, finishing with 22 points on 7-15 shooting from the field. 9/10

Kyle Korver: Um… Ouch. Korver didn’t put up a three until the third quarter, when he launched two ill-advised misses. He went on to go 1-8 from the field and 0-5 from deep on the night, never finding any sort of a rhythm. However, he came up with a big rebound and strip in the closing couple of minutes. 3/10

DeMarre Carroll: Carroll played a phenomenal game, absolutely shutting down the red hot Joe Johnson, holding him at 9 points on 4-15 shooting. Carroll was also major on the boards where the Hawks were a bit out-matched, grabbing 11 rebounds to go along with his 12 points for the double-double. Huge performance. 10/10

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FINAL

BOS(23-55) 97 – 105 (35-43)ATL

Key Performers:
R. Rondo (BOS): 19 pts, 12 ast, 3 stl
J. Teague (ATL): 19 pts, 8 ast
[FULL BOX SCORE]

Say it with me guys. Playoffs, baby! Play-offs! Well, not yet, not for sure, but this win definitely got the Hawks one step closer. And what a win it was. Atlanta opened up an early double-digit lead thanks to a ridiculous shooting stretch – making 19 of their first 25 shot attempts. A late second-quarter comeback by Boston cut the Hawks lead to single-digits, only to take control of the game in the quarter following. Around the midway point of the fourth, Boston led by nine points, and things seemed bleak for the Hawks. That is, until they went on a 19-3 run. Nineteen to three. A couple of Korver treys and big plays by every other starter helped the Hawks pulled off an impressive victory when the game looked all but over. Oh, and the Hawks were without Pero Antic who was inactive with a sore ankle.

Reaction grades [assessed 0-10]:

Jeff Teague: Teague’s jumper was cooking tonight, the tip of the iceberg that was his terrific outing. Teague connected on three of his six tries from deep, including one huge long bomb to spark the Hawks’ insane comeback. Every other facet of Teague’s game was on point tonight, and he finished with 19 points, 8 assists and 2 steals on 6-12 shooting from the field. 9/10

DeMarre Carroll: DeMarre fell victim to some outrageous Jeff Green shots in this one, yet still held him to just 5-15 shooting from the field! Strong all-around game from Carroll, which has become old news at this point. 13 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists on 6-13 shooting. 9/10

Kyle Korver: SAUZ! Korver was all over the place tonight, connecting on colossally important threes, making superb passes and hit the boards well to top it off. Somehow the Celtics left Korver WIDE OPEN on two possessions, coming off of made buckets. One of them were during Atlanta’s 19-3 run, so thanks for that Boston. Korver was 4-6 from deep, scoring 17, grabbing 5 rebounds and dishing out 4 dimes with a team-high +17. 10/10

Elton Brand:

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33 minutes, 13 points and 13 rebounds, 300% shooting from the field. Okay, I made up the last stat. But he was terrific on all fronts. 10/10

Paul Millsap: Millsap had far from the greatest of games, but came up big on the glass and in the final minutes with a score inside and game-sealing block on Avery Bradley. 5.5/10 Continue Reading…