Summer League Hawks Watch — vs. Rockets

Graham Chapple —  July 9, 2016
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.

Isaia Cordinier showed signs of an intriguing young player, but the overall feeling I got watching him was that his overall game definitely improving, which is absolutely fine since he’s only 19 and he’ll be playing over in France next season. He did, however, showcase a very decent three-point stroke. Well, OK, that’s a little bit of an exaggeration. He only took two threes and hit one of them, but the one he did hit looked real smooth, does that count? In the end, he scored five points on the night.

Edy Tavares played OK. He wasn’t outstanding, but he played OK — seven points, eight rebounds, and a block. I’m really hoping to see more from Edy as summer league progresses, he’s such an intriguing player.

Is anyone talking about Lamar Patterson?

The player I really wanted to focus on today is not DeAndre’ Bembry but Lamar Patterson, who I thought had some great moments in this game and had a great game that no one is really talking about. OK, on the scoring front he wasn’t spectacular — he scored five points on 2-of-6 shooting — but it’s the six assists that he registered that really showed that he’s a cut above these summer league players when it comes to running an offense (handling the ball often last night) and general feel for the game.

Let’s go through a few of his best plays from last night.

In this first clip Patterson slips the pick and roll with a beautiful pass to find his roll man, who finishes at the cup.

This is not a simple pass by any means, but LP does a great job slipping the pick and roll D.

In the second quarter, Patterson provides a great sequence — defense to offense. He does a great job boxing out the 6’10 Michael Beasley, secures the rebound as a result, brings the ball up the floor, and delivers a great pass (it looked like a no looker but I’m not sure) to the flying Cordinier who finishes the play.

In this next sequence, we get to see both the passing ability of Patterson and the cutting ability of Bembry personified in one play. The clock is running down as the first half ticks to a close: Bembry catches Gary Payton II ball watching, Patterson dribbles to his right following the pick set by Edy (whose screen takes his man away from right block, giving Bembry the space he needs to cut), and LP threads the needle to the cutting Bembry who finishes, plus the foul.

Great stuff from LP and Bembry.

Here, Patterson is trailing the play, steamrolls into the play, and receives the ball from his teammate. At this point Patterson could try and complete the play at the rim, he’s certainly carrying enough pace to carry him to the cup, but instead he delivers a great pass to the chest of Brandon Ashley, who is unable to finish the play.

Although the play wasn’t converted, Patterson showed good basketball IQ in this sequence. He could’ve taken this to the hoop himself, but saw on the fly (very much so on the fly) that Ashley was in a better position to score than he was — open right near the basket. Very Hawks-like.

Finally, Patterson, again, displays his court awareness. Off of the turnover, the ball ends up in the hands of Bembry, who lays it off to LP behind the three-point line. Patterson was perfectly entitled to rise up and take that three (it wouldn’t have been a great three, but he could’ve taken it nevertheless), but instead — in the split second after he receives the ball — he fires it over to the wide open Pangos, who knocks down the three.

I just thought that, in amidst all of this Bembry talk, that Patterson’s performancr was being overlooked when it came to this game — I was really impressed with this performance. His ability to create plays for his teammates was a huge reason the Hawks won this game.

With the amount of wings the Hawks have on their team who are probably ahead of Patterson in the rotation, I think it’s really important for Patterson to showcase himself here at summer league as a facilitator. Unlike every other wing (besides, maybe, Bembry) the Hawks have under contract, no other wing can handle the ball and create plays — in the manner we saw last night — like Patterson can.

Since Malcolm Delaney (at least right now) is the only backup point guard, Patterson could be auditioning for a role (at least in the early stages of the season) as a combo guard who plays off the ball and runs the point on occasion.

It’s only summer league, and it’s only one game, but Patterson acquitted himself well as a facilitator last night. Obviously, he needs to keep improving (four turnovers last night), but I think — if the Hawks’ rotations stays as is — we could really see Patterson feature as a ball handler/combo guard as part of the Hawks’ rotation, even if it’s only for a few minutes a game. But the foundations for such a role need to be laid in Las Vegas.

Graham Chapple