The Hawks’ run is over in Las Vegas as the team lost their quarterfinal matchup to Houston, 78-71. The biggest issue for Atlanta was their horrendous shooting, as the team only connected on three of their 28 3-point attempts. Otherwise, the team did a lot of things well; they got the line (18-for-26), controlled the ball (only 14 turnovers, which is excellent for Summer League), and a nice effort on the offensive glass. (11 offensive boards)

Here’s how things broke down for individual players:

  • Dennis Schröder was fantastic and his box score doesn’t quite reflect how well he played. “Slashing Schröder” had several nice takes to the basket and he was tied as the team’s leading scorer with 16 points on 5-for-11 shooting. He was only credited with four assists, but he should have had many, many more; the team’s 25-for-71 overall shooting tanked what was a great passing and offensive performance from the young German.
  • Mike Muscala was again the most consistent Atlanta player on the floor. He is not going to be the catch to run the highlight reel, but that is not what really matters; Muscala has shown a lot of growth this summer from last summer. He is more skilled off of the dribble, is more refined in the post, and has quite a keen knowledge of the NBA’s verticality rules. He doesn’t always get stops, but at the very least, he is avoiding fouls that most young players commit. He and Dennis also showed some nice chemistry on the floor.
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Grantland’s Zach Lowe has declared the Atlanta Hawks among the losers in this year’s off-season, citing the team’s inability to attract a major piece despite plenty of available cap space:

No one will take Atlanta’s money, despite a good core of players, a very good coaching staff, and an innovative style of play Mike Budenholzer has only just begun installing. Some stars won’t even meet with them. I almost wanted to hug Budenholzer when I saw him in Vegas. The most common theory among insiders for Atlanta’s lack of appeal is that players see the Hawks as a dull franchise with a dead crowd and a limited postseason history that almost always involves NBA TV.

Contrarian that I am, I disagree with Lowe and almost everybody else about Atlanta’s off-season. Before I explain, I feel compelled to point out that the Hawks might have a completely different set of problems if Budenholzer had done what I suggested prior to Game 6 of the Indiana series and increased Shelvin Mack’s minutes at the expense of Lou Williams. Before the series, I noted that Williams (minus-15) and Elton Brand (minus-26) had the worst aggregate plus-minus against the Pacers during the regular season. In my playoff postmortem, I noted that Brand again had the worst aggregate plus-minus for the series (minus-32) while Williams was only 4th-worst at minus-21. Continue Reading…

After the Hawks cut bait by packaging Lucas Nogueira with Lou Williams in a trade to Toronto, and with John Jenkins showing signs of chronic health issues, the organization has to be hoping to get something out of Dennis Schröder and Adreian Payne. NBA.com insider David Aldridge went so far as to say, at the top of the broadcast of Atlanta’s Summer League Tournament meeting with Portland, that “the expectation is that Dennis Schröder is going to be the point guard of the future.”

If that’s the expectation, Schröder is going to have to learn how to hold onto the ball. He’s shown an improved offensive touch, posting a 30-point game against Dallas and averaging 42% shooting from 3-point range during Summer League. But Schröder started off Thursday’s game against the Trail Blazers with two horrible turnovers. Instead of making fundamental plays, Schroder tried to get cute with no-look passes and threw the ball away on his first two passing attempts. Through five games, Schröder is averaging 4.6 turnovers and only 3.2 assists. Continue Reading…

The Hawks played their best defensive game of the summer on Wednesday as they defeated the defending-LVSL champion Golden State Warriors 68-65 in the first round of the tournament. Here’s what I noticed:

  • Dennis Schröder had another solid scoring output. He made two of his four attempts from beyond the arc, a shooting mark that is quite impressive from an inconsistent shooter like Dennis. His stroke in the first half looked so smooth and compact, but, alas, he finished the game going 5-for-15 from the field. Only four turnovers in the game, an improvement from the 12 total giveaways in his previous two Vegas outings.
  • Shoutout to my man Mike Jawz. Mike Muscala dropped a cool 14 points with a few tasty spin moves in the lane. His improved ball-handling ability – something that you don’t often see in a lanky big – has been something that caught my eye from the first Summer League game. His defense remains fundamentally sound, but he still has trouble altering shots. Not sure what the problem is there, as his hands seem to always be in the right spot (or at least close enough) during the shot contest. The bottom line with Muscala is will do whatever he can to improve his game to fit the needs of the team. Next step? Three-point shooting, which he already does decently well.
  • John Jenkins rested the second game of a back-to-back… again. I realize he was cleared to play recently and a back injury takes time to heal, but I’ve been very disappointed with his play in the Summer League. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still pulling for him to succeed. It’s just going to be harder to get opportunities like this during the regular season.
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In contrast to signing him with the team’s cap space, the Hawks have completed a sign-and-trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder for Thabo Sefolosha, the team announced today.

“Thabo is an unselfish, competitive and playoff-tested player, and does many things well on both sides of the ball,” general manager Danny Ferry said in the team’s press release. “He also fills a need, giving us more size and depth at the wing position. He’s been a part of winning programs and will fit our culture well.”

The Hawks also acquired the draft rights to Giorgos Printezis, trading away the rights to 2003 draft pick Sofoklis Schortsanitis. Oklahoma City will also receive a trade exception out of the deal.

Sefolosha is known for his defense, but he is also a capable shooter; he shot 39% on 3-pointers over the last three seasons, hitting a high mark of 43% in the 2011-12 season when the Thunder made the NBA Finals.

The Hawks dropped to 0-3 in Summer League play with a 91-76 loss to the Trail Blazers, mostly thanks to the hot shooting of Portland’s CJ McCollum and Will Barton. Of course, we’re not interested in what happened on the Portland side. Here’s what I saw from the Hawks’ best prospects:

  • Dennis Schröder again looked confident in trying to score, even if he did not have quite the success of Sunday’s 30 point game. He did not attempt a 3-pointer, but his takes to the basket were decisive and well-finished. I liked most of his passing, but he did end up with six turnovers thanks to some old-fashioned, Summer League sloppiness. However, he did have this nice alley-oop pass to Mike Muscala in the second half.
  • John Jenkins did not play in the second half in what was likely after-effects of his back-injury from the past year. Jenkins only played eight minutes in the first half, scoring no points and accumulating three fouls. Jenkins’ future status with the team is becoming less and less concrete as time passes. It may seems harsh since he is coming off of a back injury, but I see no reason why the team should pick up his option for next season.
  • Mike Muscala was probably the team’s best player in this game, putting up 13 points and seven rebounds in 25 minutes. Despite the team having trouble on defense as a unit, I liked what Muscala was doing for most the game; he still has some learning to do, but he length helps a lot when he just tries to get vertical in defending shots. Muscala was also 1-for-2 on 3-point attempts and he has commented that he is making a concerted effort to improve that aspect of his game. Being a big that can shoot 3s is an easy way to get playing time in Mike Budenholzer’s offense.
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Grantland’s Zach Lowe released his winners and losers from NBA free agency. Among the losers were the Atlanta Hawks, but not because of the deals of Thabo Sefelosha and Kent Bazemore. Instead, Lowe penned this on how the Hawks’ front office is having trouble even meeting with free agents:  

No one will take Atlanta’s money, despite a good core of players, a very good coaching staff, and an innovative style of play Mike Budenholzer has only just begun installing. Some stars won’t even meet with them. I almost wanted to hug Budenholzer when I saw him in Vegas. The most common theory among insiders for Atlanta’s lack of appeal is that players see the Hawks as a dull franchise with a dead crowd and a limited postseason history that almost always involves NBA TV.

That will turn around at some point, but just about everyone Atlanta has approached so far rebuffed the Hawks’ invitation to get in on the ground floor.

I have always been an ardent defender of the Hawks’ turnout for the other reason that Lowe mentions: the Atlanta version of the Hawks franchise has never really won anything of significance; no titles, no appearances in the Finals, hell, not even an appearance in the Conference Finals for the Atlanta faithful to hang their hats on.

The Hawks have four “championship” banners hanging up in Philips Arena. All four celebrate a division championship, which I don’t think is an accomplishment you should scoff at, as it is a nice accolade. It usually means that your team is in the top four in the conference and that they have some sort of chance of making it to the Conference Finals. Continue Reading…

The following paragraph is word-for-word from David Vertsberger’s first Summer League post.

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.

I couldn’t have said it any better myself. Overreacting is prohibited. Let us continue.

The Hawks took on the D-League Select Team on Sunday as they attempted to secure their first victory of the summer. After their rough outing in Saturday’s game against the Washington Wizards, it was nice to see some team improvements. Here are some general notes about the game:

  • SUDDEN DEATH. WE HAD SUDDEN DEATH BASKETBALL. It was a crazy scramble to get just one shot to win. We got robbed when a goaltending call wasn’t made on a Schröder layup attempt. But, alas, it’s just Summer League…
    Missed Goaltend
  • Coach Bud must LOVE the ball movement he’s seeing from his young players. The #HamMovement is remarkable. Players are swinging and kicking, kicking and swinging, making the extra pass; this is actually my favorite part to watch in all of the Summer League. While sometimes they make errant passes, it’s expected out of these young players. Very enjoyable basketball being played by the Hawks.
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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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The Atlanta Hawks have signed free agent shooting guard Kent Bazemore for two years 4 million according to ESPN’s Marc Stein.

After getting almost no playing time with the Warriors, Bazemore finally broke out last year when being traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. On a bad team with nothing to play for other than pride, Bazemore made the most of his situation. He shot 37% from three, scored 13 points a game, and did it all very efficiently with an effective field Goal percentage of 51%.

What Bazemore brings to the Hawks is a guy that can come off the bench and shoot threes. Considering how many the Hawks shot last year, Bazemore should fit right in. There’s concern about his inability to find playing time in Golden State, but a lot of that had to do with playing on a loaded roster of guards. There’s also concerns that Bazemore’s numbers were inflated. He played on a bad team that played no defense. His coach, Mike Dantoni, is known for making guards play better than they actually are, mainly because the Dantoni system is very favorable towards high offensive gunning, causing an inflation in numbers.

All of those concerns noted, this is a no risk signing. He’s on a low money deal for only two years. If it turns out that his numbers with the Lakers were inflated, then the Hawks just leave him on the bench and wait out his contract. He could turn out to be a great three point shooter that thrives in Mike Budenholzer’s system, becoming another weapon in an already dangerous offense.