Mike Scott is as unassuming as his name might suggest. He was a second-round product after rare five-year stint at the University of Virginia. He was described as too slow to play the small forward but undersized for the power forward position coming out of college in 2012. Many didn’t even expect this quiet prospect to even be drafted in that year’s NBA Draft. But on an injury-ravaged Hawks team this season, he’s made a name for himself as someone who can light up the scoreboard from the forward position.
It’s no secret the Hawks have been struggling as of late. Coming into Sunday’s game at Phoenix, Atlanta had lost 10 of the last 11 contests, sliding to a record of 26-31 and almost out of playoff positioning entirely. Three players have already been lost to season-ending injuries and many more deal with nicks that have kept key players out of the lineup for days and weeks at a time.
On the season, Mike Scott averages under 10 points per game and 4 rebounds per game but that understates his impact as he’s has taken on a larger load of the minutes as the post players around him have succumb to ailnesses. Against Phoenix, he had an impressive performance in a run and gun battle against an upstart Suns team. He finished with 20 points on 18 shots and 5 rebounds. Sunday, he showed his ability to overpower the likes of PJ Tucker and both of the Morris twins in the paint. Although he profiles as a below the rim, jump shooting player, don’t mistake his ability to finish near the basket. In addition, a 6’8” player who can knock down threes off the pick and pop as well as in transition with proficiency has quickly become a universally wanted commodity as the league is playing smaller and faster (quickest pace since 1993-94) than anytime in recent history.
His scoring versatility is his biggest calling card. He is shooting 37% from three and 48% from the field overall for an effective field goal percentage of 54.3%. For a team lacking scoring punch without the services of Al Horford and recently to Paul Millsap to a leg contusion, I believe Mike Scott should find himself in the starting lineup. While the team’s holey defense has been the main culprit of the recent slide (second most points surrendered per contest since the All-Star Break), and Scott will never be mistaken for a lockdown defender, his offensive exploits both in the paint and outside of his has temporarily floated this sinking ship.
At the conclusion of this season, Scott will be a restricted free agent. While the Hawks have the rights to either offer him a contract before he hits the market as well as match any offer he may get elsewhere, there is always the threat of a big contract coming his way and losing him to another team. Mike will be 26 years old at the start of next season meaning his next contract will cover his physical prime. His success this season has seemingly gone under the national radar and the Hawks would be wise to not let him leave the heart of the South.