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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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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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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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The Atlanta Hawks, historically, have had trouble acquiring star power via free agency. And in a summer where Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors shook the NBA to its core, Dwight Howard hardly seems to qualify.

 But Howard’s return to his hometown—where were first introduced to the 6-foot-10 slender teenage with a Hollywood smile in a no. 12 Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy jersey—couldn’t have come at a better time.

 The front office was unable or unwilling to come to terms with Al Horford on a long term deal, and Howard’s signing a three-year deal was good insurance for their franchise cornerstone’s eventual departure to the Boston Celtics. The move lets Atlanta remain competitive now without tying up the cap over a longer period of time.

Now, the Hawks job isn’t done. Paul Millsap and Kyle Korver still remain from the All-star foursome selected to represent Atlanta in New York a year ago. Kent Bazemore played the best basketball of his career this season and will return after signing a four-year $70 million dollar deal, and a confident Dennis Schroder steps into the starting point guard spot. But Atlanta still has a dearth of elite shot creation, and, even if Schroder takes a leap as the starting point guard, there’s still a lack of depth behind him. But perhaps Howard diving hard in pick and rolls can generate more gravity than Horford or Millsap were able to muster working from the elbows.

And though Atlanta already had a quality defense, maybe Howard’s different defensive skill set allows the team to shore up some weaknesses that appeared in the playoffs the past two seasons.

As the 2nd best defensive team in the league, you would be hard pressed to find a glaring weakness. Dwight’s biggest impact defensively will be providing rim protection for a team that ranked 2nd in rim protection field goal percentage holding a opponents to 44.9%. Atlanta also ranked first in blocks, defensive rebounds and field goal percentage defending 2 pointers. However, what we found out against bigger, longer, athletic teams like the Cleveland Cavaliers (swept) and Milwaukee Bucks (1-2 regular season series record) is that Atlanta doesn’t have the athletes to match.


Lebron is unstoppable when he has a full head of steam headed towards the basket, but the lack of size and shot blocking ability is apparent


Frye gets to the pain and because of his length there is no shot any Hawk has to contest.

As an individual, Dwight’s presence on the defensive end is far more imposing than Horford’s or Millsap; so opposing players are certainly more careful attempting a shot around the basket. Last season, when facing the champion Cleveland Cavaliers, Dwight’s defensive field goal percentage contesting shots less than 6 feet was 33.33%(2 games), compared to Al Horford’s 66.7%( 3 games). Watching Tristan Thompson gather several offensive rebounds for 2nd chance points throughout the semifinals was a reminder that Atlanta ranked 18th in that department, another area Howard’s 8.4 defensive rebounds per game will come in handy as opposed to Horford’s 5.5.


Tristan Thompson out hustles entire Hawks frontcourt using his instincts and leaping ability. Two attributes Dwight uses when rebounding the ball.


Dwight howard rebounding activity

Budenholzer will have to tweak the scheme just a tad bit in order to fully capitalize off of Dwight’s strengths by not allowing him too far away from the basket as Horford might off been at times. Now not saying Howard doesn’t have the capability to cover a guard off a pick n roll for a couple seconds, but it’s not exactly his comfort zone. Luckily for him he will be playing with a supporting cast that is instructed to wreak havoc on the perimeter in order to reduce easy driving lanes to the rim. Nevertheless, Howard is one of the best erasers in this league and has been for quiet some time.


Howard protecting the rim


The former three-time Defensive Player of the Year leaves an offense first, second, and then defense third mentality in Houston for one of the best defensive coaches in the league.

The Hawks finished in the top three in 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, and now he has a game-changing player with the ability to shore up both of those deficiencies. Atlanta has sorely missed that imposing presence anchoring the defense, sort of similar to what Tyson Chandler meant to those Dallas Maverick teams.

Al Horford and Paul Millsap did all they could in conjunction with a perimeter group who swarmed ball handlers with pressure defense to speed offenses up and out of their comfort zone, but they still lacked great size on the frontline. Howard is a rim protecting presence who should allow defenders to scramble less, maintain the integrity of their rotations, and clean the glass.

Another important note is that due to Budenholzer’s all hands on deck philosophy, he should be able to keep Howard’s minutes in check.

Over the past couple seasons Dwight has not looked like the Superman we saw in Orlando, and 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 he looked disengaged at times last season. The injuries are something Atlanta is taking a risk on, but the mental stability is much more concerning. 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 played 71 games and the entire first round, so the issue as much a mental block as physical. 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 they don’t mind playing through their bigs as Atlanta averaged the most post touches last season with 19.8 a game—two factors 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 and roll situations, which will force defenses into a tough circumstance with shooters like Korver and Bazemore spotting up.


Howard in Pick and Roll



Howard rolling to rim

Schroder is much more prone to use picks to create better looks for his own scoring options. Last year he ranked third in frequency of using the pick and roll with a 54% rating, two spots above Chris Paul, and having five of his 11 points per game come from that play type. At this point in his career he is not threat to defenses shooting the ball and typically uses the likes of Millsap and Horford’s offensive prowess to his advantage. During Wednesday’s press conference Howard stated that Dennis reminds him “of a bigger Rondo.” And said that the pick and roll game with both of them will be hard to defend.


Schroder to Horford

Howard may not be the midrange shooter that Horford was for Atlanta, but he certainly is just as effective rolling to the rim awaiting a pass from a point guard. Even with the lack of touches he this past season, Howard still shot 60% as a roll man during it all. If you have watched him long enough you understand that he’s quiet comfortable in pick and rolls, but the real questions lie in the post. We were all optimistic when he walked into los Angeles to work with all time leading scorer Kareem Abdul Jabaar, but that soon faded after he battled a bad back all season long and never quiet got in sync with Mike Dantoni. He then heads to Houston where 3-time NBA champion Kevin Mchale and the masterful footwork teachings of Hakeem Olajuwon’s awaited him, but that too never manifested.

So for Atlanta, barring any vast improvement in his low post scoring ability, Dwight is already one of the top offensive rebounders in the league, which can be a source for points, but he will be most successful in Atlanta’s offense stationed closer to the basket (he shot 69.6% from less than 5 feet last season) feeding off the playmaking ability from his teammates, rather if it’s a drive and dish or off a pick and roll. Budenholzer will still need to call his number for post ups, but idea is not to exhaust him too much by demanding he create his own offense majority of the time. Although the playing style was not in his favor last year, just 244 of his 976 points came from post ups.

Another luxury Howard now has is that this scheme also encourages interior passing between its bigs to create easier scoring opportunities—a similar scheme is currently ran on the Los Angles Clippers between Blake Griffin and Deandre Jordan whenever they play two-man game from a hi-low or pick and roll setting. Millsap is a better floor spacer than Griffin, and close enough of as a passer.


Here we see a series of clips showing Blake Griffins passing abilities in the Hi-Lo situations.


Dwight did share time on the floor with a passing forward in Josh Smith; and Hi-Lo situations is something he’s shown no problem excelling in like Deandre Jordan.


Millsap to Horford

Howard is now 30 years old with a history of injuries and enough drama to fill a Netflix series. The Hawks, on the court, have been a stable franchise in recent years in search of a catalyst to hit a higher ceiling. Beginning a new chapter, Howard will now wear #8 in hopes that a return to his Atlanta roots will be just what his career needed.  Recently, Howard spoke with the Atlanta Journal–Constitution about the ultimate goal in Atlanta and his motivation preparing for next season.

“I want to do whatever I can to bring a championship home,” Howard said Tuesday, “I know it’s not going to be easy. I’ve worked extremely hard this summer, every summer. I’m very motivated. I’m really ticked off about last season. I’m looking forward to coming back with a different mentality.”


The hopes that Al Horford would retire a Hawk are dashed. The long term future of the franchise is not, however.

In case you hadn’t heard, the Hawks have agreed to sign Atlanta’s own Dwight Howard to a three-year, $70.5 million contract and will retain Kent Bazemore for $70 million over four years. Such was not the same fate, sadly, for the most tenured Hawk.

Remove the emotional aspect of the tumultuous past couple of days and come to realize this is by no means a disaster for the Atlanta Hawks. The team rebuilt the wing corps through the draft and were able to retain breakout star Kent Bazemore. They landed the much maligned but still effective Dwight Howard without having to commit to a fourth year.

Sure, their hopes of winning a championship are very slim this season, especially so if Durant lands on an Eastern team like Boston or Miami, but all you can hope is to be a top four seed in the conference and maybe a path towards the Finals opens up. There are 30 teams competing for one trophy and it’s unrealistic to have half of the teams contending and half rebuilding; there’s always going to be middle ground.

Besides, a Millsap-Horford core proved to be in the same non-contending boat. That duo had two true opportunities to dethrone Lebron’s reign on the Eastern Conference and failed woefully each time. Subsequently, the Boss received a nice severance package and headed to greener, shamrock-filled pastures and we went to Plan B. That’s just how the business goes sometimes.

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

There’s one thing I love about the NBA: when the action on the court finally ends, the NBA keeps going. And it comes thick and fast too. Game 7 of The Finals took place on June 19th, the NBA Draft just took place last Thursday (June 23rd) and now we’re about to head into the free agency period, beginning July 1st.

In free agency, you’re always treading in murky waters, but more so than ever this summer. Why? The salary cap is set to rise from $70 million to a whopping $94 million, with the salary floor (the figure of expenditure that teams have to reach) reportedly believed to be $84 million. Most teams are set to have at least $20 million in cap space, so teams are going to be throwing money left, right, and center.

It’s going to be fascinating to see how it all plays out, but what about for the Hawks? What’s their situation heading into free agency?

“What we have, we hold”?

The Hawks’ summer — just as it was last year — is set to be a very busy one. Franchise cornerstone Al Horford is an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career, while Kent Bazemore is also hitting the market off the heels of his best season in the NBA. We’ll get to the Hawks’ other free agents later, but it’s all about Horford and Bazemore.

Let’s start with Horford, Atlanta’s cornerstone, and I have some things to say to his naysayers.

Look, I’ll be the first to admit that Al is not the greatest rebounding center out there. And I get it, Hassan Whiteside is a better rebounder, but if you think Hassan Whiteside is a better player — more so the idea that the Hawks are better off with Whiteside than they are with Horford — then you’re out of your mind.

General question I like to ask when it comes to free agency: is there a player available on the market who is better than the player you’re considering letting go? In this case, the answer is no. As an overall package, there is NO CENTER better than Al Horford on the market this summer. None. Continue Reading…

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.


Coming into draft night the Atlanta Hawks had several questions to answer after shipping Jeff Teague to his hometown Pacers just a day earlier for the 12th pick. The move that helps Atlanta sign Horford and possibly bring back Bazemore. Atlanta struggled much of this season rebounding and taking care of the ball, with an undersized frontcourt and unsettling backcourt debate. However, just as detrimental as those deficiencies were, the lack of youth and athleticism were just as apparent.


Free agent Kent Bazemore was that youthful bright spot in the backcourt bringing energy, athleticism, intensity and shooting; but he will surely be sought after this summer and once again put the Hawks back in familiar predicament searching for a multidimensional asset at either the SG or SF position.


Despite how the draft unfolded, Hawks GM Wes Wilcox reassured importance of Kent Bazemore to this team.


Wilcox and Coach Mike Budenholzer elected to address those needs in this draft by selecting Taurean Prince (6’6) and DeAndre Bembry(6’8), Two hard working individuals that possess not only athleticism, but the ability to score in a variety of ways that fit the hawks system, qualities that were glaringly missing as LeBron and company swept their season away once again. As they’ve shown in the past, the possibility of losing their most versatile player (like demarre last summer) prompted their decision to draft these two in hopes they too embrace and flourish within Budenholzers developmental system like Bazemore.

Wilcox talks about the focus of this draft


Prince averaged 15 points (leading scorer) and 6 rebounds per game leading Baylor to the NCAA tournament, where they were upset in the first round by 12th seed Yale. His versatility fits right into the scheme coach Bud employs, he prefers players like Demarre Carroll and Thabo Sefolosha, who are interchangeable between either the 2 or 3 spot. Prince compares mostly to Demarre because of his 6”11 wingspan and lateral quickness that assist in his effectiveness as defender. Offensively, Prince may be limited somewhat as a ballhandler, but the ability to knock down the three point shot, mainly catch n shoot, was apparent in the loss versus Yale as he went 4-7 from beyond. Prince can contribute right away by being that high motor disrupter defensively and floor spreader offensively that we saw at Baylor. Despite his troubles creating opportunities for himself off the dribble right now; Budenholzer’s system doesn’t require that skillset from his wings, it highlights everything Prince is made of.


The A-10 Player of the Year, Deandre Bembry, provides the hawks with more playmaking, more versatility defensively along with a team-oriented mindset that coincides with Atlanta’s concept. Because of his ballhandling skills and quickness, he has a knack of finding the seams in defenses comfortably, thus creating opportunities for himself and others. In his final year as a St. Joseph Hawk, Bembry was only one of three players in the nation to average at least 17.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 4 assist, Ben Simmons and Denzel Valentine were the others two.


“He’s a good Hawks fit. He can handle, he can pass, and he’s unselfish. He is an exceptionally great passer, said Wilcox.


Deandre talks about his versatility


Shooting currently is his biggest obstacle, consisting of his mechanics (slow release and shoots on the way down) shot selection and three point woes(just 26% last season). Luckily for him, Hawks shooting coach Ben Sullivan has done a remarkable job with Kent Bazemore and Thabo Sefolosha; but even more notably he played a large part in Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard’s development as shooters during his time in San Antonio. He will surely have his work cut out for him with Bembry as a shooter, but his all around game fits just right.

 Lets be honest, neither one of these guys were what many Hawks fans expected. But they are definitely what were needed.


“We are confident in the work we’ve done and the time we put in to this”, said a smiling Wes Wilcox post-draft.