Archives For preseason

Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images

The Hawks picked up their second victory of the preseason with a 99-93 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Wait… The Hawks actually beat the Cavaliers?? The 11 game losing streak that has run since the 2015 Conference Finals is over?? What’s that? It doesn’t actually count because no relevant Cavalier played and it’s only a preseason game? Oh…

Anyways, they picked up the win and it was so good to finally be able to watch the Hawks in action after their first two games of the preseason (against the Grizzlies and the Spurs) were not televised.

Let’s just get stuck in, shall we?

Dwight Howard shines in Philips debut

Dwight Howard’s first competitive game at Philips Arena was a decent one, you could say. He scored 26 points (on 11-of-15 shooting), collected eight rebounds, and blocked two shots in just under 24 minutes of action.

He was so dominant in the first quarter and there’s so much to digest, I don’t know where to start. But before we get stuck into the footage, do — please — keep in mind that this is preseason and the opposition Dwight was playing against was not of the highest quality. Important to note, as some tend to get carried away after one game.

Defensively, we always knew what Dwight we were going to see — so long as he was locked in. But we all knew if he was locked in that Dwight was always going to be a force to be reckoned with at the rim. As Jordan McRae found out the hard way…

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Kevin C. Cox/NBAE/Getty Images

Kevin C. Cox/NBAE/Getty Images

Oh my goodness, it’s finally here. Even if it’s only preseason, Atlanta Hawks basketball is back!

Tipping off in Memphis on Thursday, we’ll finally be able to get a look at the Hawks in a — somewhat — competitive environment. This is definitely the most I, and I’m sure many others, have been looking forward to seeing the Hawks in action in a while given the summer they had — letting Al Horford go, trading Jeff Teague, signing Dwight Howard and giving the point guard reigns to Dennis Schröder. I am fascinated to see how the overall jigsaw is going to assemble on the court.

I’m not sure how many preseason games are actually going to be broadcasted (be it from the Hawks’ side or from their opposition’s side), but here are some things to look out for when you are watching them in action.

How Dwight Howard fits into the offense

On the face of it, I would not call Dwight Howard a Hawks-y type of player. He’s not a very diverse player on the offensive end (limited to mostly dunks and post moves, the latter seeing varying levels of success), he’s not the greatest passer of the ball (certainly not as a good of a passer than Al Horford was/is), he can’t stretch the floor like Horford did with his mid-range/three-point shot and he bogs down his team’s offensive flow when he is hacked, due to teams wanting to take advantage of his very poor free throw shooting percentages.

I was shocked when the I heard the Hawks had agreed a deal to sign Dwight and I’ve tried to talk myself into the thought of him as a Hawk and there’s certainly a decent case to make for Dwight Howard as a Hawk. We’ve talked about it to no end but now it’s finally time to see it in action.

I have so many questions:

How will Dwight actually fit into this complex offense that the Hawks run? Is he going to be as willing of a passer as Horford was? Is he going to be invested into the system where it’s about “we” not “I”? Will we see him dip into that expanded mid-range game we’ve seen him practise all summer with his shooting coach, Lethal Shooter? Can he knock down that shot in real game situations? Undoubtedly — not through “hack-a” mind you, unless teams are feeling very mean in preseason — we will see Dwight at the free throw line at some stage. Will he give any indication, any confidence, that his free throw percentage is going to increase this season, enough to the point where teams think twice about hacking him? How will his rim-rolling help the Hawks’ offense? What will it open up for his teammates? Will pick-and-rolls involving him help free up the shooters, like Kyle Korver?

We’re not going have all our Dwight Howard questions answered right now, but the picture should be a little clearer once preseason is over.

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Annie Finberg/Atlanta Hawks

Annie Finberg/Atlanta Hawks

Training camp is only a few days away. That’s it. And on October 6th the Hawks’ preseason schedule kicks off in Memphis — that’s how close we’re getting to the start of the season. And while the Hawks have their most important summer affairs with regards their roster in order — the signing of Dwight Howard, trading Jeff Teague etc — there’s still one more order of business to address: the 15th and final roster spot.

The Hawks have announced their training camp roster and it is as follows:

PG: Schroder, Delaney, Jack, Bynum

SG: Korver, Hardaway Jr.

SF: Bazemore, Prince, Bembry, Sefolosha

PF: Millsap, Scott, Humphries, Costello, Kelly, Solomon, Muscala

C: Howard, Splitter, Tavares

So, you have your usual suspects here, your Korver’s, Scott’s, Millsap’s etc. The names you probably don’t recognise (besides perhaps Malcolm Delaney, who you can learn more about here) are the training camp invites.

They are: (former Piston) Will Bynum, (former Laker) Ryan Kelly, (former Michigan Sate alum and member of the Hawks’ summer league team) Matt Costello and (former California Golden Bear) Richard Solomon.

There are only 15 roster spots available and 20 training camp participants. You don’t need a PhD in maths to know that 20 does not go into 15 evenly, which means five players will have to be cut before opening night. The Hawks, however, are in an interesting predicament when it comes to their 15th man. Even before they announced (a long time ago at this stage) the signing of their first training camp invite, Matt Costello, the Hawks already had 16 players under contract after the signing of Jarrett Jack was announced. This means, excluding the training camp invites, that the Hawks have a decision to make. Which man out of the their existing roster do they cut?

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Jeff Teague Rodney Stuckey

For their final tilt of the preseason, the Hawks (3-3) head up to Auburn Hill to take on the Pistons. (3-4) Some notes:

  • This is a huge game for Anthony Tolliver, Damion James, and James Anderson, as one of these guys is likely to be cut after the game. To be honest, I think AT and Damion are pretty secure, mostly because the Hawks already have 839 guards ahead of Anderson. Anderson is not a terrible player, but I’m was confused that the Hawks picked him up to begin with; he never really had a shot with all of the depth the Hawks have at that position.
  • The starting lineup tonight will likely feature Devin Harris again, which is something that I’m not exactly happy with. My preferred starting lineup at this point would be Teague/Stevenson/Korver/Smith/Horford, which gives the Hawks a good wing defender and an elite shooter to play with. Having Harris and Stevenson at the two and three just seems way too small. (which is noteworthy, considering the league has essentially turned into smallball)
  • For the other side, some fun players to watch for are Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. Monroe’s lack of defense will be fun for the Hawks, but he’s also a very underrated offensive player. Drummond was selected with the ninth pick in the first round, and is a more traditional presence in the paint. (aka: he’ll probably be covering a lot of Monroe’s mistakes during the season)
  • The game starts at 7:30pm, and can be heard on 680 The Fan. (no TV again)

Smoove and Horford

Basketball is finally back for the Hawks! Atlanta will open later today against the defending champions, the Miami Heat.

Of course, the outcome of this game doesn’t really mean much of anything, but there are a few things to watch out for:

  • Al Horford. We did get to see him play in a few games in the playoff series against Boston, but this will be the first time that fans get to see a fully-healthy Horford play since January. Since Horford is likely to take a larger role on offense, it will be interesting to see if he has plays thrown his way to test how adept he is at creating his own offense. Also, Al is such a fun player to watch, so it will be nice just to see him out there at full strength. Continue Reading…