On the surface, Mike Dunleavy appeared to be a spare part that was included in the Kyle Korver trade to Cleveland. However, he played a big part in Atlanta’s victory over Milwaukee on Sunday scoring 20 points off the bench in just his second game with the Hawks.
“It’s two games. We have to be careful to not put too much into it,” Mike Budenholzer said when asked about Dunleavy’s early success. “But I would say it’s always been a belief that this would maybe be a good place for him and a good way to play — moving and cutting. All those things. It’s early, but I think he’s relishing his opportunity, and we obviously have welcomed him with open arms and are excited about having him. Now the challenge for him is to come out and do it every night. I know he will.”
Dunleavy has gone through one full practice and one shootaround with the Hawks. He entered Friday’s game late in the third quarter with Atlanta down big and was part of the group that helped erase a 20-point deficit. He didn’t have to wait long on Sunday as Budenholzer inserted him midway through the first quarter as the team’s first substitute off the bench.
Dunleavy once again provided a spark scoring 10 points in the first to help Atlanta erase an early 11-point deficit. He’d go on to finish with 20 points on 6 of 10 shooting including 4 of 5 from three-point range. It is very early and expectations should certainly be tempered, but the early returns suggest that Dunleavy is a good fit for the Hawks.
“I think it is an easy group of guys, the way we play, to fit in with,” Dunleavy told reporters after the game. “I’ve been playing against this team for a lot of years, and I understand what they’re trying to do, and how they play offensively. It’s been pretty seamless this far. Defensively, I’m still trying to figure some things out and get more comfortable. But overall, I feel pretty good with where we’re at after two games.”
The Hawks have always looked for players with a high basketball IQ. Through two games, Dunleavy has had no trouble finding his shot from the perimeter and has looked seamless scoring on a couple of back cuts to the basket as well on Sunday.
“These guys know how to play,” Dunleavy added. “They’ve been well coached. Some guys have been around for a little bit. Guys are looking for each other. Guys move the ball. Guys are selfless. It’s an easy way to play.”
If Dunleavy continues to play this way, you can bet that the Hawks are going to continue to look for him.