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Happy Friday, happy weekend!

Episode 7 of This Week in the Hawks is here for your listening pleasure. Topics this week include:

  • All-Star Saturday and its participants
  • The Hawks bringing Lamar Patterson
  • The Hawks’ D-League announcement
  • A brief recap of the 4OT games vs. the Knicks before recaps of the Heat and Rocket games
  • Stats from the week and the upcoming schedule

Thanks for listening! Even if you don’t listen, hey, thanks for stopping by.

Feature Image: Patrick Smith/Getty Images North America

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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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…

Paul Millsap sank a one-handed running shot with 15.7 seconds remaining to put the Hawks up 101-97 and Atlanta (9-5) was able to hang onto the lead against the Sacramento Kings (4-8) in what felt like a must-win game for both teams. Millsap’s 23 points (9-for-19), 16 rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocks were just enough to stop the bleeding for his shorthanded team, which had lost three straight, in a 103-97 win at Philips Arena.

“Paul really stood out,” said Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer during the postgame media availability. “I think our focus, our attention to detail was closer to where we need it to be. It’s good to get a win. I think we obviously needed that.”

Sacramento has been facing issues of their own, evident during several moments of on-court bickering in the third quarter between DeMarcus Cousins (24 points, 12 rebounds), Rudy Gay (14 points, six rebounds) and Rajon Rondo, who recorded a triple-double with 12 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists. The Kings still managed to outscore Atlanta 27-19 during that period and entered the final quarter down only 81-79. Continue Reading…

The Hawks have jumped out to a 3-1 record in the first week, despite a barely positive point differential. Still, the team like many is attempting work new members into a fast-paced offense and a defense that has to counter a league-wide pace-and-space movement. Some growing pains are to be expected, and this stage of the season is the least predictive of overall performance.

With those qualifiers out of the way, an early story of this Hawks 2015-16 campaign is the strong play from a unit that was expected to be their weakest. I previously wrote about why rumors of the Hawks decline on the wings would be greatly overstated, at least defensively.

But who would have thought two guys perceived to be too small and not skilled enough to play big time minutes at this level would be the steadying force of the team thus far? We know the offensive talents Kyle Korver brings to the table and Thabo Sefolosha’s role on the team was etched in stone long ago as a long-armed defender, assuming full recovery from a NYPD-induced leg fracture.

That duo isn’t the two guys to which I’m alluding, however. Kent Bazemore and Lamar Patterson, please step forward.

Kent Bazemore profiles as a gazelle-like slasher with impressive hops, but jump shooting was never one of his biggest talents. After signing with Atlanta on a lean two year, $4 million deal, Baze responded with inconsistent but somewhat promising shooting performance last year.

kentbazemore

Many thanks to Austin Clemens and his shot chart data for the above map. The size of the circles represents frequency of shot attempts and the colors range from red to blue, indicating high field goal percentages to low. Kent was most efficient in the right corner and the left wing, but at most other spots on the floor there is a lot of blue, especially in the midrange area. Continue Reading…

The Atlanta Hawks trailed the New Orleans Pelicans for most of the night, but took control of the game in the fourth quarter en route to a 103-93 preseason victory. Without the service of a TV broadcast and spotty radio coverage, the game seemed to take place in complete anonymity. Dennis Schröder led the Hawks with 11 points off the bench and Kent Bazemore added 10 behind a 6-for-7 night at the line. He also had four steals, but his overall defense was lacking along with most of the first team. The Pelicans jumped out to double digits leads by the second quarter as the Hawks starters looked a step slow on the two ends of the court.

Kyle Korver and Jeff Teague both struggled to find a rhythm. Teague attacked the basket too recklessly, drawing the attention of multiple defenders who would swallow him under the rim, and Korver couldn’t find enough open space to shoot. Still, both were able to draw enough fouls with their aggression to finish with a combined 14 points on 11 shots, seven of those points coming from the stripe.

For the Pelicans, Anthony Davis is looking to put together an MVP season in 2015-16 and did nothing tonight to assuage those illusions. He had 20 points on 15 shots, showing great range in nailing two 3 pointers, as well as five rebounds and three blocks. Over and over, Tyreke Evans was a step faster than the Hawks defense in compiling 17 points on 15 shots, but only had two assists versus four turnovers. 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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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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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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