Last season, the Atlanta Hawks acquired Garrison Mathews as part of the Justin Holiday/Frank Kaminsky trade. He only played nine games with the Hawks, sitting on the bench more often than not. However, when he made the court, Mathews was a serviceable player.
He asked his coach, Quin Snyder, what he needed to do to crack the rotation and Snyder replied that he was not sure. This is not a reflection on Mathews, he is such a unique style of player that he has never really cracked it as a solid rotation guy in the league.
He did average 10.0 points, 2.9 rebounds, 1.0 assists, and 0.9 steals per game on the league-worst Houston Rockets in the season prior to being traded. However, on teams that were competitive for playoff spots, Mathews has not been able to average more than 16.2 minutes per game.
What could Garrison Mathews bring to the Atlanta Hawks?
This is the question that every front office and coaching staff asks before they offer a player a contract. It is a question that the front office would have asked prior to guaranteeing Mathews’ deal for this season. However, they might not have spent too much time on it,
Mathews is only earning $2.0 million this season. Only Vit Krejci and Mouhamed Gueye will take home less this season. This means that the end of the bench that will not get much playing time will not cost much for the franchise. This is great roster construction for which the new front office should be lauded.
Still, when Mathews takes the court he adds another level of toughness to the Hawks lineup. He is a solid defender who is unafraid to put his body on the line for his team. This trait is going to help get him time on the court.
However, Mathews’ greatest skill is that he is able to hit the 3-ball with regularity. He went 13-of-31 from beyond the arc with the Hawks last season. While this is a small sample size, Mathews could help space the floor for his All-Star-level backcourt of Trae Young and Dejounte Murray.
Even if he can’t crack the rotation then Mathews can still impact the rotations by being the hardest worker in the gym at practice, If he can impress the coaching staff with his work ethic then he has the chance to garner some court time.
Mathews has been a starter in the league and has shown that he can play hard. This is an important factor on the practice floor. He is battling against Bogdan Bogdanovic, AJ Griffin, Wesley Matthews, Kobe Bufkin, Patty Mills, Dejounte Murray, and Trae Young for court time.
To put it simply, the Atlanta Hawks have an embarrassment of riches at the guard position and every player is going to be at their peak to keep their minutes in the rotation. More competition on the practice floor should translate into better guard play up and down the roster.
This could have the impact of helping the Hawks rise up the standings.