There were a lot of good things to take away from the Atlanta Hawks' 98-96 win in their preseason opener Wednesday night. All of Atlanta's new additions made their way onto the court along with Kyle Korver and Shelvin Mack returning from injury. There was also several things that need work and that is exactly what the preseason is for.
Still one of the biggest surprises from the preseason opener was the debut of 7-3 rookie Walter Tavares who despite playing in what amounted to garbage time, impressed with his size and ability.
Tavares finished with 11 points, four rebound and a pair of steals in just over 11 minutes of action. He was 5-for-5 from the field with an array of dunks and one nice mid-range jumper.
At media day, Mike Budenholzer talked about how the additions of Tavares and Tiago Splitter would effect the Hawks this season. He talked a lot about their ability to put pressure on the rim and how their ability to role to the basket in the pick and roll will keep opposing defenses honest. This nice pass from Shelvin Mack to Tavares illustrates that exact situation.
His offensive night aside, what stood out about Tavares was his overwhelming size. He used his wingspan to snatch a couple of steals out of the air where a normal sized player wouldn't have had a chance. He ran the floor well and did a good job of making himself available at the rim.
You take a look at Tavares and you see all of that size, it is easy to forget just how young he is at 23. He's still learning and you could see him feeling his way through certain situations last night. He still must get stronger and he is going to need a lot of court time to really get acclimated to the NBA game. While Wednesday's performance was a solid starting performance, he is still a ways away from being rotation ready. However, he clearly showed a lot of that upside that made him one of the most intriguing second-round picks of the 2014 draft.