Edy Tavares is a part of the future for the Atlanta Hawks.
Edy Tavares may not be a part of the present for the Atlanta Hawks.
The two sentences above are not mutually exclusive, and after three games of evaluation in Las Vegas, they can both be true. The newly-signed center has shown flashes of brilliance and ineptitude during the trio of contests, leaving a lot to be desired while simultaneously providing reason for encouragement.
Hawks assistant coach (and LVSL head coach) Kenny Atkinson, following Sunday's win over the Warriors, had this to say about Tavares and what the team is seeing: "Quite honestly, we haven’t had him. We’re discovering the player he is. We know what we want him to be. A great rim protector. A rebounder. We’re discovering the player, too. It’s exciting because, obviously, he’s hungry to be a big part."
That quote runs the gamut in a similar way to the overall experience from Tavares, who already shows the signs (namely, a 7-foot-9 wingspan) become an impact defensive player at the NBA level. However, he has visibly struggled with establishing position on either end of the floor, as a lack of leverage has been problematic with sealing off opponents.
Offensively, it has been a mixed bag for Tavares as well. On one hand, he displays real skills, including massive hands and a solid jump shot out to 15 feet. The flip side isn't always pretty, however, as his hands have often betrayed him while the pace of the game has visibly affected his play.
With regard to the NBA pace, Atkinson said, "I think the pace of the game is so different from Europe, and he’s just adjusting to the pace, number one, and then adjusting to what we’re doing. I think he forgot a lot of what we were doing last year. His team in Europe, they were playing a totally different pick-and-roll coverage. We’re on him. We’re watching film with him."
Staying "on him" is something that provides another set of barriers for the Hawks and their staff, as there remains a language barrier with Tavares. The 23-year-old big man does speak some English at this point, but that doesn't always transfer to basketball speak, and with the changes in philosophy from his European club to Atlanta, the transition period could be lengthy.
On the whole, the Las Vegas experience is something that is needed for a player like Tavares. There is no need to rush his development with a three-year contract in place, but there is enough uncertainty with how his skills will translate that it is beneficial to see Tavares against the equivalent of NBA athletes for a few games.
Three games is, quite honestly, not enough to evaluate any player, but that is what we have with Edy Tavares at this stage. The allure of a guaranteed contract for the big man has led some fans into thinking he will be an impact player upon arrival, and that simply doesn't appear to be in the cards at this point. To that end, though, a lack of playing time or intrinsic value in year one does not set a damning precedent for Tavares, who still possesses the physical skills and young age to develop into a valuable piece at a low cost.
Edy Tavares needs Summer League, but this time serves as a reminder that he does not currently profile as an NBA rotation player. Right now, that is perfectly fine, but expectations should be tempered for those who are expecting immediate impact.