Summer League is fun.
It should (almost) never be taken seriously from a basketball perspective, especially with regard to team success. Still, the Atlanta Hawks played reasonably well as a team at times, and there were flashes of individual brilliance from some interesting players. The following information should be taken with a grain of salt because, well, the sample size is extremely small (seven games even with the deep tournament run) and the competition level of a normal Las Vegas Summer League game is quite low.
Still, we will take a look at the winners and losers for the Hawks this week, and you can flame away.
- Mike Muscala - Muscala was the best player in Las Vegas by leaps and bounds. Yes, he was supposed to be the best player, but living up to that expectation was important for Muscala as he strives to earn a regular rotation spot for the 2015-2016 season. His high point was a 15-point, 12-point, 5-assist effort on Wednesday, and Muscala flashed the skills that Hawks fans have enjoyed over his two seasons in Atlanta.
- Brandon Ashley - From an individual standpoint, no one impressed me with their on-court, when compared to my expectation level, more than Ashley. It is unfortunate that the Hawks are looking at a bit of a frontcourt logjam in the Fall, because Ashley is my favorite non-Muscala, non-Tavares option on the summer roster. He is a high-end athlete who showed some skills, and I'd like to see a training camp invite thrown his way for an additional opportunity to impress.
- Terran Petteway - I was a fan of Petteway at Nebraska, and he reminded me why in Vegas. From an NBA perspective, Petteway will make his bones as a shooter, and he struggled a bit from deep (28% from three) on the week. Still, he is a talented offensive player who can create his own shot, and he was a better defender than I expected. It wouldn't shock me if he was around for training camp, simply because the coaching staff had a lot of positive things to say.
- Lamar Patterson (sort of) - Patterson almost belongs in his own category. From a production standpoint, he was the best wing on the roster, averaging 13.1 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. However, Patterson displayed some of the same issues that have plagued him with regard to an NBA future, and that is tough to usurp. Still, he is definitely a winner for the week because he played quite well.
- Glenn Robinson III - The coaching staff had good things to say about Robinson III throughout the week, and I continue to believe he was brought in at a late hour to Las Vegas with an inside track at a camp invite. Robinson III was the best athlete on the roster, and if he can simply become a passable shooter (42.9% from three this week), there is a lengthy NBA career on the horizon, even if not in Atlanta.
- Kenny Atkinson - Evaluating a "head coach" in Summer League is almost comical, but I enjoyed Kenny's work this week. He is frank and honest with player evaluations and did a good job shuffling players in and out while providing guys with an opportunity to stretch their skills. While it was partly facilitated by necessity, I enjoyed the fact that players like Patterson and Petteway were given the opportunity to handle the ball a lot as a showcase. Big fan of Kenny.
The Edy Tavares Category
It would be unfair to categorize Edy Tavares as either a winner or a loser, so we create a new spot for him. Earlier in the week, I wrote extensively about Tavares and the importance of managing expectations, and that still rings true.
Tavares improved as the week went along, cementing Atkinson's statements about his adjustment to the pace of the game. There were plenty of positives, including the elite rim protection that the Hawks are looking for from him, but there were enough negatives (lack of leverage, passiveness, etc.) that he can't be characterized as a full-blown "winner" from the week.
We'll be seeing a lot of Edy Tavares in the fall, and there will be more data at that point.
- Stephen Holt - Holt is a fan favorite, even if a large reason for that fanfare comes from sharing his name with an Arrested Development character. There is absolutely nothing wrong with Holt as a summer league asset, as he has some skills and largely did an adequate job when he was on the floor. However, he remains a tweener that can't really function as an NBA point guard, and I just don't see an opportunity for an NBA career unless he becomes an uber-elite shooter.
- Greg Smith - Smith was the lone player on the summer roster (sans Muscala) that boasts real NBA experience. The big man didn't get a big chance to impress, though, playing in only three games. Smith's athleticism is largely gone due to injury, and even if he could still compete for an NBA roster spot, it shouldn't be in Atlanta with the options currently employed.
- Jon Horford - Because of name recognition and the fact that he played at two major programs (Michigan and Florida), many believed Jon Horford could compete for a training camp invite. That doesn't materialize. Al's younger brother appeared in only one game for five minutes, and he was largely unimpressive. There is a chance that he could flourish elsewhere, but nothing clicked with the Hawks in Vegas.
The regular season can't get here soon enough.