Atlanta Hawks give brutally honest assessment of Kobe Bufkin

Atlanta Hawks. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Atlanta Hawks. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

The Atlanta Hawks project good things for Kobe Bufkin.

That much was evident when they selected him with the No. 15 overall pick of the 2023 NBA Draft and was reaffirmed with the responsibilities they placed on him during Summer League in Las Vegas. It was not the prettiest start for the youngster but he finished strong even hitting the game-winner in their fourth outing.

“Kobe (Bufkin) needs to settle down a little,” an anonymous staffer said, per Keith Smith of Spotrac on July 14. “It’ll come for him. We’re deep, but not in ballhandlers. Kobe could find a rotation role this year.”

Bufkin, 19, is averaging 13.0 points, 4.5 assists, and 3.8 rebounds while falling just shy of 1.0 blocks and 1.0 steals through four Summer League games.

He’s also shooting just 31.6% overall (17.4% 3P) and averaging 5.5 giveaways per game.

The overall picture undercuts the real growth that Bufkin has shown in Las Vegas which manifested itself in his ability to shake off another poor shooting performance to come through in the clutch. He’s had the ball in his hands a lot during Summer League, ranking ninth in overall shot attempts per game.

He figures to be off the ball more often than not during the regular season with the Hawks if he is able to lock down a spot in the rotation.

Atlanta’s retooled bench includes veteran Patty Mills and even Vit Krejci as ball handlers behind Trae Young and Dejounte Murray while Sixth Man of the Year candidate Bogdan Bogdanovic operates in a similar capacity when he’s on the floor.

On-ball reps could be hard to come by so Bufkin has to be just as effective playing off it.

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There has been continued speculation that the Hawks could still add to the roster via trade but that has involved making a move for a power forward, namely Pascal Siakam of the Toronto Raptors. With Young and Murray on hand, there just is not as much of a need for a pure point guard-type of player.

And even if they did, Bufkin’s turnovers have hurt with the former University of Michigan standout recording five-plus giveaways in three of four outings.

He has had more turnovers than assists in half of the Hawks’ games.

Bufkin has a good situation to ease into as long as Mills holds up while he gets his feet wet in the NBA. He won’t be asked to do as much early on in the regular season as he has been during Summer League

NBA insider talks up Atlanta Hawks rookie Seth Lundy

Smith also offered up his assessment of Hawks second-round pick Seth Lundy who was the No. 46 overall pick in this year’s draft and comes equipped with NBA-ready floor-spacing ability. The 6-foot-6, 220-pound Lundy is averaging a modest 10.3 points and is only shooting 38.9% from the floor in Las Vegas.

“Keep an eye on two-way player Seth Lundy,” Smith wrote. “He has a nice shot and good size for a wing. Atlanta has a lot of guys in front of him, but he can play.”

Lundy has knocked down 37.9% of his threes adding 5.3 boards and 1.3 blocks per contest.

League rules will allow two-way players to make up to 50 total appearances with the big club so we could see lineups where Lundy and second-year wing AJ Griffin – who is expected to get more on-ball reps, per Bufkin – creating wide open lanes.

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Atlanta’s final game of Summer League in Las Vegas will be on July 16 against the Dallas Mavericks.