During the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, we will be giving out grades to the players based on their game performance. Just remember folks, this is Summer League and not the NBA Finals.
The Hawks came out with an underwhelming performance to start their Las Vegas Summer League journey, but that isn’t going to derail the entire season, or even the entire Summer League campaign.
Even in a loss, there were a few players who stood out and showed some flashes of promise. On the other hand, there were some performances that are likely to be criticized and that the players will want back.
Let’s grade some of the performances of the big contributors during Saturday’s loss to the Washington Wizards:
DENNIS SCHRÖDER: C+
Dennis Schröder had a lot to prove coming into this year’s Summer League. He showed some impressive defensive pressure and passing skills in last year’s tournament, but he had a disappointing rookie campaign that didn’t come with much playing time. He still needed to work on his jumpshot, and he was still playing at a much too fast pace.
During Saturday’s loss, he looked like he had worked on some of those things. His pace was much better and much more patient, as he set up the offense impressively, and helped keep the young team on track. His shooting was abysmal, though, as he shot just 2 of 13 from the field, and the Wizards went under every screen that was set for him. If Dennis can shoot a bit better as time goes on, he may show coach Budenholzer and the Hawks that he’s ready for a regular rotation spot.
MIKE MUSCALA: B
Mike Muscala really impressed on Saturday. Although his stats weren’t truly indicative of his play (11 points, 3 rebounds), he was a nice steady force for the Hawks. He showed a lot more confidence and aggressiveness on the offensive end, and partnered that with some really impressive passing. While catching the ball in the high post, Muscala initiated some offense. He threw some really nice cross-court passes, and seemingly was getting the ball moving on every possession. That kind of play is suitable to what Bud and company want their big men to do.
JOHN JENKINS: D
John Jenkins did not look good during his return from missing eight months with a back injury. His timing was off, he shot just 1 of 4 from the field, and was a mess on defense. The important thing to remember is that he is still trying to find his footing, and expectations should have been low for him coming in. As the tournament goes on, Jenkins should put up some better numbers, and hopefully show that shooting touch he was drafted for. Let’s slow the bust talk down just a little bit.
ADREIAN PAYNE: B-
Taken 15th overall in the 2014 NBA Draft, Adreian Payne had some hefty expectations coming into Summer League. He has good size and strength, can shoot from the outside, and played four years at Michigan State — making his transition to the NBA seemingly easier than one-and-done players. Payne looked like he was aware of those expectations, as he came out pressing and missed a lot of shots early. As the game went on, Payne was much more patient, and was a key contributor for the team. Payne finished with 12 points and 7 rebounds, and he was dazzling the crowd with his athleticism. At one point, he threw down a nasty put-back dunk, and the building was fired up.
On the defensive end, Payne was trying, but he finished with 8 fouls (it takes 10 to foul out in SL). Look for him to tone down the aggressiveness in the next game. Overall, it was a decent debut for the rookie.
WALTER (EDY) TAVARES: C
Tavares was a second-round pick, and although he is considered raw, he has a chance to be a special player down the road. Standing at 7’2, Tavares can be a good rim protector, and has a high ceiling overall. In his first game, he showed some flashed, but was too aggressive. He did a decent job of protecting inside, but had four fouls in just 10 minutes of play. He finished with six points in those ten minutes, and showed a little more offensive game than he was believed to possess. If he can tone down the fouls, he could get more playing time as the tourney goes on.