I am ready to admit that Summer League Hoops probably isn't for everyone. While not everyone is like me, and would consider watching a weeks worth of games something just short of paradise. Factor also that it was in Las Vegas and I would have been ecstatic to run back and forth from Cox Pavilion to The Thomas and Mack Center to catch all of the action.
It is hard to draw a straight comparison from what we saw on the court in summer league to what we might see once the regular season rolls around. However, it does give franchises opportunities to look at players like a Jeff Teague who was given his first shot with the Hawks at running a team, and a Pape Sy or Sergiy Gladyr whom play in Europe and aren't able to be seen day in and day out.
These games are opportunities for players to impress and one day get to fulfill their dream of playing in the NBA. Important contacts are made and the things going on off the court are probably more meaningful than the ones on the court. Still there is something intriguing about Summer Hoops as it is a proving ground for players, coaches, and officials.
The Atlanta Hawks finished their run in the Vegas Summer League with a 3-2 record. They dropped their first two games to Memphis Grizzlies and the San Antonio Spurs which were the two most experienced clubs that they played. No doubt that played a part in the losses. They rallied though as Hawks coach Lester Conner pleaded for defense and better ball control and the results was a three game winning streak to close out Summer League. There wasn't really any truly eye opening performances that just made you go wow, but there were some solid performances and hope for the future.
Individual player thoughts after the jump........
Jeff Teague - Overall I liked what I saw from Teague over the course of the Summer League. He averaged 15.6 points per game and 4.2 assists while shooting 52% from the floor. The only knock against him was a 4.4 turnover average but that was in large part due to one bad game that inflated his average. At any rate he will have to protect the basketball if he is going to see substantial playing time this season. Whether or not he supplants Mike Bibby the starter will likely not be decided until training camp and the pre-season. At the very least Teague should be able to make an impact off of the bench as a pace changer the way former Hawks guard Spud Webb did when he would enter the game. If Teague is going to fill a back up role then I think it is important for him to know what is needed of him once he hits the floor.
Jordan Crawford - I came away really impressed with Crawford as well. I knew that he was an explosive scorer coming out of college but I did not know what kind of overall game he possesses. He showed a keen sense for play making with an excellent passing ability. After watching him, you really can see why the comparisons to Jamal Crawford are valid. He has excellent range on his shot and a knack for getting into the paint and drawing fouls. He has an array of floaters in his arsenal around the hoop. He too had some issues with turning the ball over and in decision making but I am not going to hold that against him or Teague as they were seeing their first real action in the NBA Summer League or not. Will he contribute right away? I would say no just because of the number of guards on the Hawks roster. However, Crawford strikes me as a very confident player though and should a trade occur that clears the way for him I would expect him to step up if his number were called. He finished with the very nice averages of 16.2 points per game, 3.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1.8 steals over the course of Summer League.
Randolph Morris - When I watched Morris in High School I do not remember him lacking this much athleticism. Granted I might not have watched with as careful an eye as I do now or I may have just bought into the hype back then. Morris lost his starting spot in Summer League due in large part to not closing the lane down on drives to the basket and a lack of rebounding. He followed up that demotion to the bench with a couple of nice scoring games but never did really get on track in hitting the boards. He finished averaging 7 points per game but only 2.8 rebounds in just 14 minutes of action per game. I would like to say that Morris has reached the end of the road with the Hawks but because of familiarity alone I expect him to be at training camp.
Pape Sy - Sy was the one guy that I came away from Summer League not seeing enough of. He only appeared in two games because of a sore Achilies. He looked shaky in the first half of the opener against Memphis struggling with the ball pressure that the Grizzlies applied. However, he seemed to rebound in the second half when the Hawks made a run and showed an ability of getting into the lane and getting to the free throw line. He only hit 1-3 field goal attempts but got to the free throw line 9 times. He appears to be as long as advertised and I think he will have to get stronger but could project into a nice defensive player at the wing position. I want to see more of him.
Sergiy Gladyr - This is the one guy that I came away a little disappointed in. While he might not have been put in the most position to be successful by his teammates, Gladyr really didn't show anything other than a jump shot. A jump shot that was off for the most part during summer league (5-19, 2-12 3pt). He didn't show a real good handle with the basketball nor did he show a lot of ability to create a shot for himself. He will go back to Europe the season for more work and perhaps we will see him again in the summer league next year.
Alade Aminu - Aminu is one of the most intriguing prospects that the Hawks took to Summer League. He played in the D-League last season where he was a good scorer and rebounder. He finished Summer League with averages of 10 points and 4.4 rebounds per game while also blocking 1.4 shots. He started the Summer League strong and finished strong. It was the disappearing act in the middle that leaves you wondering. This is the same guy that scored 30 points and had 23 rebounds in the D-League Showcase last season and followed that game up with 11 points and 2 rebounds. The inconsistency is really what is hampering him as a player right now as on this level you have to bring it every night. Still at 6'10" and being a local guy I hope that the Hawks bring him in to training camp.
Richard Hendrix - Hendrix was equally pleasing and frustrating during Summer League. He probably had the best post game of any player on the Hawks squad. He averaged 8.5 points and 3 rebounds per game. He has limited size but makes the most of positioning. He routinely likes to hustle up the floor and establish early post position before the opposing team has time to set up which he and Jeff Teague took advantage of on numerous occasions. Hawks blogger Bret LaGree of Hoopinion, who was in Vegas for SL, was kind enough to include a synopsis in the comments section of our Game 5 recap about Hendrix:
While I was there, Hendrix seemed completely disinterested in doing what Lester Conner wanted and focused only on scoring in the post (which he does quite well). So, either he was just playing himself into shape or trying to gain some leverage before joining Maccabi Tel Aviv or he’d be just as prone to getting his as Joe Smith was last season albeit more efficient offensively.
If that is the case then I doubt we will be seeing anymore of Hendrix. He performed well enough to get an invite to training camp but if he has other agendas the Hawks may pass.
James Augustine - Augustine seemed to get better as he got more accustomed to his teammates. Still he drew a lot of comparisons to ZaZa Pachulia and didn't overly impress with averages of 4.8 points and 5.4 rebounds. He did lead the team in rebounding and possesses a good enough game around the basket. His problems are his overall athletic ability. Still I think he will get a training camp invite from someone and in the right situation could stick on somebody's roster.
Jamereo Davidson - Davidson was the forgotten man on the bench early getting some limited opportunities but made the most of them over the last few games in Summer League. I liked what I saw from him as he got inside and mixed it up. He averaged 5.2 points and 4.8 rebounds over summer league. He is another 6'10 guy and I expect might get training camp invites from a few teams.
Luke Jackson - Jackson was one of the toughest guys I watched to evaluate. The whole time I am watching him I am wondering if his game translates to the NBA game. No secret that the Hawks played better during the Summer League when he was on the floor. His outside shooting helped open lanes for Teague and Jordan Crawford to operate. He finished with averages of 6.6 points and 2.2 rebounds but impressed with a 50% shooting percentage from the field and from deep. His value to this SL team went above his numbers however. He is 27 years old and a back injury has robbed him of a lot of the athleticism that he had coming out of Oregon. Still he is a heady player who plays hard and one that is easy to pull for. I hope that he gets an opportunity somewhere.
Trey Gilder - Gilder started all five games of the summer league for the Hawks and made the most of his opportunities. He clearly has a deficiency in his game and that is his outside shot. You can clearly see that a lack of perimeter game is what is holding him back. He did a lot of his damage with hustle and crashing the offensive boards. He finished with 8.8 points and 4.4 rebounds. At 6'9" 185 lbs he is the definition of slender. Yet he still throws his body around inside with the big boys.
Landon Milbourne - Milbourne for whatever reason seemed to settle into that last man role off the bench. He played in four of the five games but only averaged 5.8 minutes per and failed to make much of an impact.
As was mentioned before, Hoopinion was in Vegas for the Summer League and has done an excellent first person recap of the players above.