There aren’t a lot of expectations for second round picks going into their first season. Many second round picks never make much of an impact through their first season if they even make the roster at all. For the Hawks’ Mike Scott, the 2012-2013 season was a year of adjustment, as many rookies experience, and he did show some moments of potential that could become more than just a short career role player like so many second round picks have been before him.
During Summer League this past July, many critics and fans alike were raving about the new additions of first-round picks Lucas Nogueira and Dennis Schröder, but Mike and fellow 2012 draftee John Jenkins provided some great leadership and each showed improvement. Scott’s highlight of the short summer schedule occurred in the final game against the Kings where he posted a monster double-double performance with 25 points and 10 rebounds, while also shooting a perfect 12-for-12 from the foul line.
Still, with the season just around the corner, many questions remain about Mike’s future. He is going into training camp with a non-guaranteed contract, and the Hawks front office will have the option to cut ties with him up until January 10th, when his contract becomes guaranteed. With the numerous additions to the front court during the off-season, many may wonder if Mike will be with the Hawks on opening night. However, two things do emerge in confidence that the Hawks plan to hold onto him. The first can be found from his play during the Summer League in Vegas. Scott spent more time near the perimeter, shooting more from beyond the arc, which was a new aspect to his game as he only had one 3-point attempt in all of the 2012-13 season. He still needs improvement in this category as he only shot 25% from 3 point range, but the fact he is beginning to focus on this goes into the next point in favor of Mike Scott holding his roster spot.
When looking at the entire roster, the wing position seems to be a weakness overall. This is where Scott’s focus on his shooting raises a serious question: Are the Hawks looking to convert Mike Scott into a wing player? Currently, the most likely candidates to play SF primarily are Kyle Korver and DeMarre Carroll. While both are capable of playing the position, Korver’s defense against the prototypical NBA small forward is a liability and DMC’s playing style of non stop effort seems fit for a more limited playing time role. Mike Scott would have trouble finding any amount of playing time at power forward with Paul Millsap, Pero Antic, Gustavo Ayon and Elton Brand all sharing minutes, so pushing him down to small forward would be a wise move for the coaching staff to give the 25-year-old the opportunity to continue to improve and carve out a role with the Hawks.
Mike Scott working on his mid-range and 3-point shooting is the first sign of a transition to the wing. If Scott can become a consistent scorer from behind the arc, it will allow him to man the outside and keep spacing by getting his defender to stay on him at the perimeter.
The key to Mike Scott’s 2013-14 campaign is how he fits into the team. A move to the small forward position may only be a theory at this point, but there is greater opportunity for an expanded role if he can establish himself as a capable wing player. More evidence of this transition could present itself quickly as training camp starts as well as into preseason. Scott is on a closer watch by the front office as they have brought in other options that could man his roster spot.
With his sights set on staying with the team, Scott has the chance to be a surprise factor for the Hawks this season. Even the possibility that he could be the starting small forward at some point this season should not seem like an impossible achievement.