The Atlanta Hawks kicked off their 2014 NBA Summer League campaign in Las Vegas on Saturday, and it wasn’t exactly the type of performance they were hoping for.
Summer League is filled with guys who are in their first or second year in the NBA, and the rest of the rosters are filled out by guys who are looking to find a spot on a roster as a 15th man somewhere. With those type of players, there usually isn’t a lot of pretty basketball played, and Saturday’s loss to the Washington Wizards was no exception.
The game got off to a bit of a slow start for the Hawks, as they looked unprepared for this event. The Wizards were converting masterfully on offense, and were even beating the much bigger Hawks on the boards. After the first quarter, the Hawks were down by six, and only managed to score 17 points in the period.
The second quarter was much better for the Hawks, as they were running more things on offense, and really started clicking. They were able to score 24 points in the quarter, while they impressed on defense, holding Washington to just 12 points.
The rest of the game wouldn’t reach those standards again for Atlanta, as they scored a combined 33 points in the second half, and ended up getting blown out. The final score in this one was 90-74 in favor of the Washington Wizards.
Summer League isn’t really about the outcome of the games, though. This is usually a time for rookies and young players to help develop their games and gain confidence, so you have to look at each individual to get a real idea of how Summer League was for the team.
Dennis Schröder, John Jenkins, and Mike Muscala made their return to Las Vegas by being in the starting lineup, and they were joined by first-round pick Adreian Payne and Lamar Patterson to round out the starting five.
Although Schröder shot terribly (2 of 13 from the field), he really showed that he could run the offense. He showed much more patience, and he was able to get guys in the right spots, make crisp passes, and overall looked much more poised than he did in his rookie campaign. He finished with just eight points and two assists, but those numbers don’t show his impact accurately. He obviously wasn’t the second coming of John Stockton out there, but this performance is something to build on, and he should get better as the Summer League goes on.
Mike Muscala really impressed on the day, and he could easily be called the best player the Hawks trotted out there on Saturday. He finished with just 11 points, but he was very aggressive on the offensive end, and his passing was really well executed. Coming off of screens and catching the ball in the high post was Muscala’s most effective spots on the day, as he made some really smart cross-court passes, and was allowing the offense to flow nicely.
John Jenkins was really underwhelming, but that was to be expected. After missing basically the entire season with a back injury last season, it is going to take Jenkins some time to get his timing back, and really get used to playing competitive basketball again. He was slow and often beat on defense, and he finished with just two points on 1 of 4 shooting from the field.
Rookie Adreian Payne came out of the gates pressing, and he it looked as if he was trying to hard to make an impact. As the game went on though, he let the offense and defense come to him, and he looked much more under control. Payne finished with 12 points and 7 rebounds, and wowed the crowd with some sneaky athleticism. He missed all four three-point attempts on the day, and you can look for him to be a bit more patient as the games go on.
Overall this was a disappointing start to Summer League for the Hawks, but there were a few positives they can build off of. Let’s try and not overreact to everything that happens and remember that these are just exhibitions.
Stay tuned to Soaring Down South as we cover the Hawks’ Summer League campaign for the next two weeks or so.