The Atlanta Hawks community is under a bit of a cloud of darkness right now with the recent news that Paul Millsap will be moving on via an agreement with the Denver Nuggets. Let’s take a moment to focus on a hopefully brighter topic: Atlanta’s young players and the upcoming Las Vegas Summer League.
The Hawks will begin play on Friday evening with a match-up against the Brooklyn Nets summer league team. All six players that were acquired through the last two drafts are expected to participate. Seven other players have signed on to suit up for the Hawks. Let’s take a look at what we might see from the roster.
Prince was limited to just three games of action in last year’s summer league due to the time it took the league to approve the three-team trade that brought him to the Hawks. He is, though, coming off of a successful rookie season even if the NBA media disagrees. His strongest play did come late in the season and in the playoffs and Hawks fans are excited about the player that he could become.
The second-year forward should be the best player on the Hawks roster and play on the offensive end of the court could be centered around him. What coach Charles Lee and staff ask Prince to do offensively could offer some insight into the player the organization thinks he could become.
Will he serve as the ball handler in pick and roll action frequently? Will he play with his back to the basket in the way that Paul Millsap did the last four seasons? Will he be allowed to lead the fast break in grab and go opportunities? The questions will be answered.
The first thing most observers will be looking for is how much better Bembry’s jump shot might look. Bembry made just 1 of his 18 three-point attempts and 6 of 16 free throw attempts during his first NBA season. The Hawks, on the other hand, have a pretty strong track record of being able to teach players to shoot and his shooting stats during D League play last season were a bit more encouraging.
Bembry was drafted because of his potential to be an offensive facilitator and I would expect he will operate with the ball in his hands quite a lot. The ball will probably move most effectively when he and Prince are on the court together and the general advancement of his ball skills might offer an indication as to whether or not he will be ready to handle consistent rotation minutes from the very beginning of the 2017-18 season.
Collins was Atlanta’s only first round draft pick this season and fans are sure to be excited to see how he will look in a Hawks uniform. Given his physical gifts and the impressive level of effort he demonstrates, he should be able to dominate in the same areas of play that he did at the collegiate level. Collins should be very strong on the boards and on offense in the post and as a pick and roll finisher. He could also generate a lot of offense as a rim runner and in transition.
All of that could be fun but there are other areas of play that will offer a potential view as to how NBA ready he might actually be. Will he use a majority of the 10 foul allotment players get in the pre-tournament action? Will the ball movement be problematic when he is on the floor? Can he generate an assist to turnover ratio in the range of 1:1?
Dorsey was taken with the 41st selection in the draft last month after two very successful collegiate seasons at the University of Oregon. He is a very confident player and has a game that was made for summer league. Dorsey is not afraid to shoot and has the speed to play at a very fast pace.
The big questions regarding Dorsey’s game as it relates to whether he is worth an NBA contract at this point is around the amount of polish there is to his ball skills from the standpoint of an NBA evaluation. His defensive tendencies and feel will also be an important area of assessment. It will also be interesting to see how much time he will play at the point guard position and, in general, Dorsey will be a player worthy of lots of attention.
Kaba was drafted with a pretty strong presumption that he will be stashed for at least one season. Depending upon how free agency goes, however, the Hawks may find it challenging to round out roster depth especially in the front court. His defense and rebounding are his strengths but it will be interesting to see how comfortable and confident he is operating in the pick and roll and in dribble hand off action.
Most young big players need a good amount of the foul allotment in early play but if he can adjust quickly and reduce his foul rate each game it could reflect that he might now be quite as raw as most international players taken with the 60th pick in the draft.
Cordinier was drafted last season and will be making his second appearance in the summer league with the Hawks. He had a statistically miserable season after moving up a level of play in the French league at the age of 19 and some are wondering if he will ever be a legitimate NBA prospect. European leagues are famous for not prioritizing players known to be a single year away from heading to the NBA.
Cordinier was broadly considered to be a real NBA prospect last summer and was rumored to have a guaranteed contract from an NBA team if teams cooperated in the draft. That promise reportedly fell through and the Hawks took him with an eye on the 2017-18 season.
There is not much reason to believe that Cordinier will be anything different that he was in last year’s summer league where he demonstrated a ton of athleticism and speed but not much ball skill. It will be interesting to see if he has made progress in any area of play after playing at a pretty high level last season for his age.
The Others (roster via Chris Vivlamore of the AJC)
Josh Magette has a contract of some type with the Hawks (partially guaranteed? two-way contract?) and he and Bryce Cotton will offer experienced play at the point guard position. Both could be competing for a potential third point guard spot on the Hawks roster but the most valuable aspect of their being on the summer league roster will be ensuring the team can get into their basic offensive actions. Nate Britt will offer general depth in the back court as an undrafted free agent from North Carolina.
Quincy Ford played in the front court with the Salt Lake City Stars in the NBA D-League last season and as such should be familiar with the Hawks system. Former Hawks assistant coach Quin Snyder just completed his third season as head coach of the Utah Jazz. It will be helpful to have Ford available to work with John Collins to help him get acclimated to concepts and techniques.
Richard Solomon and Duje Dukon will offer depth in the front court as well. Solomon was a strong rebounder at the collegiate level and last season with Gravelines in the French A League. Dukon was a low usage player offensively with the Windy City Bulls of the D-League last season but shot the ball relatively well when given the opportunity. Trent Lockett offers depth at the wing position and is coming off of a solid season playing at the highest division in the Spanish league last season.
Peachtree Hoops will provide robust coverage of the Hawks play at the Las Vegas Summer League and additional players could surface before tip-off on Friday. Stay tuned.