The Atlanta Hawks have a bit of uncertainty at the point guard position, and that is no secret. Dennis Schröder is set to take over as the full-time starter for the first time, and while Malcolm Delaney looks to be entrenched as the team’s backup after reportedly agreeing to a two-year contract, the Hawks certainly face the possibility of adding a third player to the mix in the coming days.
While the team does not currently possess an open roster spot, there are moves — i.e. moving on from Mike Scott or Lamar Patterson — that the team could execute in order to create space. It should be noted that Patterson could, at least theoretically, serve as a third “emergency” point guard option (and a similar argument could be made for rookie DeAndre Bembry), but that would be a tall ask for the 6-foot-5 guard, especially on the defensive end.
Atlanta’s Las Vegas Summer League stint began on a positive note on Friday and it wasn’t a coincidence that the Hawks enjoyed stellar play from the two point guards on the floor. Those players are Kevin Pangos and Bryce Cotton.
While neither is expected to make a legitimate run at making the roster when the 2016-2017 season begins, both are intriguing prospects in their own right. Pangos led the team in scoring in Friday’s opener, scoring 16 points on eight shots in less than 24 minutes of playing time, while Cotton added 14 points and seven rebounds off the bench in only 17 minutes of court time.
Hawks assistant coach (and Summer League head coach) Taylor Jenkins spoke highly of the duo following the game:
“I think, just in general, our pick and roll play... the two of those guys combined for 30 points... There's a confidence in those two guys because they know how to play. You know, pros... Bryce has played in the NBA before so guys we're definitely looking at and they compete.”
Cotton is likely the more interesting prospect, simply because of his pedigree and athleticism. The 23-year-old has appeared in 23 NBA games across the last two seasons, taking the floor for the Jazz, Suns and Grizzlies during that time. While that exposure was minimal based on a lack of playing time, the former Providence guard has also shined in the D-League, shooting better than 45% (!) from three over the past two seasons.
In the case of Pangos, his professional experience has taken place outside of the NBA. The former Gonzaga star finished his college career with a stellar campaign in 2014-2015, before traveling to Liga ACB for his rookie pro season in 2015-2016. In 49 games combined between Liga ACB and EuroCup play, Pangos converted 42% of his threes while also averaging 4.6 assists per game in less than 24 minutes per contest.
While the distinction may not mean much, it is certainly interesting that Pangos garnered the start in the team’s opener on Friday. Cotton is widely considered the better prospect given his NBA pedigree and higher level of athleticism, but each player brings potentially elite shooting to the table while presenting question marks in terms of defense and the ability to facilitate an NBA offense from the point guard spot.
The Hawks may feel comfortable with their current guard rotation, including a large level of faith in Lamar Patterson. However, Atlanta could still be in search of another point guard and the team looks to be reasonably high on both Pangos and Cotton in advance of the end of Summer League.