The Atlanta Hawks moved to 2-0 this preseason with a come from behind 103-93 win over the New Orleans Pelicans Friday night in Jacksonville. Here are some quick takeaways from Atlanta's preseason start:
Hawks getting to the line and grabbing rebounds
Two areas that Mike Budenholzer said he wanted to see improvement in this season was in the rebounding department and getting to the free throw line more frequently. Through two preseason games, he has to be pleased with the results so far.
Atlanta finished Friday's game 26-36 from the free throw line and are now 51-66 through two games. The Hawks were 24th in the league last season with 21.2 free throw attempts per game. It is admittedly a small sample size but the team has clearly attacked the paint more frequently over the first two games.
Atlanta has also seen improvement in the rebounding department so far this preseason. They finished with a 46-39 edge in the opener against Cleveland and held a 48-44 advantage against New Orleans on Friday. Again the results are a small sample but the early returns are favorable.
Where did the assists go?
The Hawks were second in the league last season in assists averaging 25.7 per game. Through two preseason games they have totaled 38. They finished with 21 in Friday's win over New Orleans but 17 of those came in the second half.
The uptick in free throw attempts has clearly had an effect on Atlanta's assist totals. They have also been working in new faces and trying to get them up to speed with the system. At this point, I don't think it is a concern and the coaching staff may live with a slight drop in total assists if it means more trips to the free throw line.
Lamar Patterson still looks like the leader for final roster spot
Lamar Patterson was the first player on a camp invite to see playing time in each of the first two preseason games. After going 1-4 from the field in the opener against Cleveland, he knocked down a pair of three-pointers over New Orleans. He has played just over 23 minutes which is about five minutes longer than Terran Petteway who appears to be his biggest challenger. There is still a ways to go but at this point it would be surprising if anyone other than Patterson claimed the team's final roster spot.