Last night, the Atlanta Hawks played their first summer league game of the year, as they took on the Denver Nuggets. The Hawks lost 86-71, however fans got to see some of the players for the first time.
As a team, I believe the Hawks did a decent job considering they did not have any current first round picks or stars on the roster like most teams do. There were moments in the first three quarters where I could feel the team playing with the energy that the regular season team did last year. There were also moments where I felt like players had just given up and felt defeated. Turnovers were a major issue in the game as the team ended up with 22 of them. Many players on the summer league roster have potential to land a spot on this year’s regular season roster.
The player most fans were excited to see was 7’3 center Walter Tavares. Tavares disappointed me in his debut to the team as he scored 4 points on 2-6 shooting, grabbed 5 rebounds, and recorded 2 blocks in 17 minutes. I did not expect much from Tavares as this was the first time that he has played at a competitive level in the United States. Due to his major height advantage, I expected Tavares to score at least 10 points and pull in around 8 rebounds. Hopefully, Tavares was just being timid in his debut and will start to build up some aggressiveness.
Next up is forward/center Mike Muscala. Muscala was a surprise to see participating in the summer league as he received a fair amount of minutes on the roster of the number one seed in the Eastern Conference. After putting up 8 points on 3-12 shooting, grabbing 6 boards, and totalling 4 turnovers in 23 minutes, I figured Muscala was just having a bad night. As many Hawks fans saw last season, Muscala is capable of hitting shots from almost anywhere on the court and finished with the highest field goal percentage on the Hawks, which is why there is no need to worry about the man many call Moose.
The surprise player of the Hawks first summer league game was 6’9 forward, Brandon Ashley. Before this game, I had never heard of Ashley but he definitely impressed me as I watched him. Ashley displayed good awareness and defensive skill while also putting some points on the board. Ashley finished last night with 15 points on 7-12 shooting and also added 5 rebounds. Two issues Ashley had were controlling the ball and foul trouble. If it were normal NBA rules, Ashley would have fouled out as he accumulated six fouls to go along with his four turnovers. Both of those are things that can be easily fixed with proper coaching. I believe Ashley is a candidate to make the regular roster as a small forward to help replace DeMarre Carroll.
Last, but not least, is 6’5 shooting guard/small forward Lamar Patterson. Patterson finished the game with the highest plus-minus rating (+1) for the Hawks as he put up 16 points on 5/7 shooting along with 4 rebounds and 3 assists. Patterson has spent his career in Europe after being drafted in 2014. Even though Patterson came out strong in the first game of the summer league, I don’t believe there is any room for him on the regular season roster since the Hawks have at least four players on the roster that are capable of playing shooting guard. The highest I believe Patterson will come this season is the D-League if he chooses to come back from Europe.
Summer League – unlvtickets.com
Tavares – NBA.com
Muscala – sportstalkatl.com
Ashley – zimbio.com
Patterson – NBA.com