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Las Vegas Summer League 2014: Winners and losers for Atlanta Hawks

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With Las Vegas in the rear view mirror, it is time to take a look at the winners and losers for the Atlanta Hawks.

Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Hawks were ousted in the quarterfinals of the 2014 Las Vegas Summer League tournament, but in the process of their six-game journey, there was plenty to chronicle. In that vein, let's take a look at the "winners" and "losers" from Las Vegas:

Winners:

  • Mike Muscala - I absolutely loved Mike Muscala throughout the week-plus in Las Vegas. The second-year big man averaged 13.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game, but more than that, he showed a varied offensive attack that we simply didn't see in his maiden voyage last season. Muscala was explosive with the ball, flashing a quality off-dribble game with the ability to find open shooters, and defensively, he was active in protecting the rim while continuing to show athleticism against the pick-and-roll. It remains to be seen if Muscala can overtake Pero Antic in the frontcourt rotation, but with what we saw this week, the Hawks would be in fine shape if forced to deploy him regularly.
  • Darvin Ham - Judging a coach by how his team performs in Summer League is dicey, but I really enjoyed the Darvin Ham experience this week. Coach Ham has long been a favorite in this space, but his message was on point throughout, he was engaging with the media, and there were real strides made from the beginning of the week until the end. Mike Budenholzer doesn't have anything to worry about, but with Quin Snyder bouncing for Utah, the Hawks are in good shape with Darvin Ham on the bench.
  • Dennis Schröder - Dennis was under control throughout the trip, and that is exciting. Schröder led the team in scoring (15.7 points per game), and he was relentless in attacking the rim at times, but the best part about his game was that he was measured in his approach. The turnovers (4.5 per game in 32 minutes) were too high, but the fact that Dennis was able to play at different speeds is encouraging, and defensively, he was able to use his big-time length to affect the opposition. Schröder isn't "there" yet, but even his body looked better (read: bigger) and there was a lot to enjoy.
  • Stephen Holt - Admittedly, I've been a big Stephen Holt fan going back to St. Mary's, but he was the lone "off the radar" member of the Summer League roster that really impressed. Holt was a combo guard in college, and with that comes quality ball-handling skills, but he is probably a pure shooting guard in the NBA, and it is nice to see a guy like that knock down more than 40% of his 3-point attempts. Shooting is a given with Holt, but he competed defensively, showed enough in playmaking and quickly cemented himself in the "rotation" once John Jenkins was on the shelf. There may not be a roster spot for Holt, but there should certainly be a training camp invite.
  • Edy Tavares - The fact that "Edy is big" became a staple of Las Vegas chatter, but the 7-foot-3 second-round pick was actually pretty solid on the court. There are certainly some weaknesses with Tavares, who gets moved off his spot very easily at this stage and continues to bring the ball down below his waist for no good reason, but Edy is terrifying in rim protection and he moves incredibly well for his size. The most encouraging part of his development seems to be a nice jump hook to go along with quality shooting form (especially at the free throw line) and with some time to shed the "raw" label, it is easy to see a path to becoming a contributor in the league.

Losers:

  • John Jenkins - Yikes. Jenkins appeared in only two games this week, and he was forced to exit one of them at halftime. After his one full game, Jenkins revealed that he was only cleared for full contact about a week prior to Las Vegas, and that does provide some context to his struggles. Still, it is undeniably terrifying that he couldn't get on the floor this week, and even when he was, he looked extremely limited physically and it showed on the floor. The 23-year-old Jenkins has a guaranteed contract for more than $1.3 million next season, but right now, that is the only reason to project him for a spot on the permanent roster.
  • Lamar Patterson - Atlanta's "other" second round pick did nothing to differentiate himself in Las Vegas. Patterson had a strong start, scoring in double figures in the first two games, but he looked slow and unathletic in the context of Summer League, and that was the worry about his game coming out of Pittsburgh. I actually like the skill set from Patterson, but fears that he just isn't an NBA athlete weren't alleviated, and it was telling that Darvin Ham turned over the swingman reins to Casey Prather midway through the week.
  • Mike Scott - Wait... Mike Scott didn't play in Las Vegas! I'm cheating a little bit here in including the restricted free agent forward, but the mere presence of Adreian Payne makes Scott a "loser" for all intents and purposes. Do I believe that the Hawks will still re-sign Scott if the price is right? Absolutely, but while Payne wasn't a "winner" from Summer League, he showed flashes of why I absolutely loved that selection, and because he can space the floor effectively while providing quality on defense (something Scott hasn't proven he can accomplish), it makes Scott all the more expendable.
We are still a long way from training camp prior to the 2014-2015 season, but there was a lot to take in from Las Vegas, and hopefully, that should hold everyone over until the "real" basketball begins. Stay tuned.