After a bit of an ugly debut in the 2014 Las Vegas Summer League, the Atlanta Hawks were back in action on Sunday afternoon against the league's D-League Select team. Fortunately, things went a great deal better in the team's second appearance, but the Hawks still fell by a final of 94-92 in overtime. Hilariously, the team was forced to sudden death after the score was tied after the first OT, but unfortunately, they weren't able to navigate that unusual circumstance to a victory.
There were certainly more positives on Sunday than in the debut, and that begins with Dennis Schröder. After an uneven performance on Saturday (to be kind), the second-year point guard was extremely aggressive and effective in somewhat of a breakout performance. Dennis finished the day with 30 (!) points on 9-for-14 shooting, but more importantly, he seemed to be in the paint at every turn (including 10 free throw attempts), and his ability to create havoc at the back-end of the opposing defense was extremely encouraging. His late 3-point barrage was something to see (three straight bombs), but more importantly, his shot looked cleaner and more fundamentally sound, and that is a significant takeaway.
In addition to Schröder, the Hawks received improved showings from the frontcourt duo of Mike Muscala and Adreian Payne. Muscala was extremely active defensively (a welcome change), and was able to finish with 15 points and 15 rebounds in 33 minutes of action, all while showcasing an impressive ability to use the dribble to attack and find open shooters. In the case of Payne, he displayed the athleticism that makes him an intriguing upside pick, and the rookie finished with 10 points, including a highlight dunk in the first quarter, and 7 rebounds.
Lamar Patterson continued to show his polished offensive game (11 points) but struggled with his shot a bit (3 for 12 from the floor) and the athleticism limitations simply won't go away. Edy Tavares showed off a beautiful jump hook in the lane that would be virtually unstoppable if he adds it as a legitimate weapon, and aside from being pushed off of spots, he was impressive once again.
On the fringe, Casey Prather made his debut, and certainly showed the athleticism that makes him an intriguing prospect. The knock on Prather is that he can't really shoot (and he showed that as well), but his pedigree and defensive upside make him a likely D-League presence for someone in the future. Aside from Prather, Travis Wear, Trevor Releford and Abraham Millsap each made their first appearances on Sunday, though none left a lasting impression during their admittedly short time on the floor.
After an off day, the Hawks will be back on the floor on Tuesday, as they take on the Portland Trail Blazers at 4:00 pm ET. Stay tuned.