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Quinn Cook is exactly the point guard the Atlanta Hawks needed

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The Hawks have their third point guard but what does he bring to the table?

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Denver Nuggets Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Hawks’ roster is seemingly nearing completion.

Reports surfaced on Sunday evening that the Hawks have agreed a two-year, partially guaranteed deal with former Duke point guard Quinn Cook.

Chris Vivlamore of the AJC reported back in late July that the Hawks would looking to add a third point guard to the roster, and the addition of Cook confirms that belief.

Cook was a Summer League standout, averaging 20.6 points (on 55% shooting from the field), 3.6 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game in Las Vegas. Prior to that, Cook spent most of the 2016-17 season with the Canton Charge where he averaged 26 points per game on 47.5% shooting from the field, 37% from three-point range, 6.7 assists per game, 4.1 rebounds per game and 1.1 steals per game.

Cook, in many ways, completes the Hawks’ roster.

Sure, the Hawks will sign guys to training camp deals, but the roster Hawks have now — barring trades — will more than likely be what they roll into the regular season, with the signing of Cook putting the finishing touch to the roster.

It was important for the Hawks to add a third point guard to the regular season rotation.

For most of last season, Atlanta ran with just two point guard, Dennis Schröder and Malcolm Delaney, until they signed Jose Calderon in March. Before then, there was always that danger that, if one of Schröder or Delaney got injured — or got into foul trouble — the Hawks would be left very short at that position.

Thankfully for the Hawks, Schröder and Delaney both proved to be healthy all season long but such a thing is rarely the case in the NBA, though, on more than a few occasions the one of them would pick up some foul trouble, and when this happened the Hawks played lineups which featured no point guard, with Kent Bazemore or Tim Hardaway Jr. running the point.

These lineups were... interesting to say the least, and the Hawks decided they wanted to avoid this problem this season by signing a third point guard — this was the right thing to do.

And Cook does indeed solve this problem, but what does he bring to the table besides another body to play point guard? How does he help the Hawks from this position?

Scoring

This is Cook’s greatest strength as a player. It’s also the area that the Hawks will probably struggle with the most next season after the departures key scorers like Paul Millsap, Tim Hardaway Jr. and even Dwight Howard, who averaged over 13 points per game. The scoring holes these players left need to be replaced.

Cook can score in a number of different ways and we’re going to look at that in finer detail now.

(Please note, this is not a ‘who is better: Cook or Delaney’ type of thing. It’s just looking at what Cook brings and how he compares to Delaney since these two players will be duking it out for the backup point guard role)

I said that Cook and Delaney are similarly skilled but the main thing that separates Cook from Delaney is that Cook can get to and score at the rim, something Delaney struggled to do in his rookie season in the NBA.

Something that helps Cook get to the rim is his burst. He has a burst of speed that Delaney doesn’t have, which is one of the main reasons Cook is able to get to the rim much more often than Delaney.

Here, Cook uses a quick first step to get by Josh Magette and gets to the rim with ease.

Using a screen, Cook dribbles to the top of key before upshifting through the gears to get to the rim for an ‘and-one’ opportunity.

Coming at the defense in transition, Cook decides to slam on the brakes before using his burst to get by the defense and he scores at the rim.

Cook also possesses a lovely touch once he gets to the rim. Here, — after using his quick burst to initially drive by Diamond Stone — Cook evades the shot blocker by using a reverse layup.

A thing of beauty.

I hear what you’re saying at this point, though. This is all very well at Summer League, but how about at the NBA level? No problem.

After a switch puts Cook on Zaza Pachulia, Cook drives by him and reverses to avoid the help defense of James Michael McAdoo.

Cook also possesses a nice floater, which is a great tool to have in your box if you’re faced with a notorious shot blocker or otherwise.

(It’s so beautiful I might cry, I love good floaters/tear-drops)

You might be able to tell from some of these clips that Cook possesses nice handle, and that’s one advantage Cook has over Delaney: using his dribble effectively to create his own offense (and offense for others as we’ll soon see).

The handle is nice and tight, he just has a fantastic command of the ball. He’s purposeful with his dribble and he gets to his spot with ease.

This is just a wonderful move. The Hawks really needed another player who can create some offense for themselves and Cook seems like someone who could fit that bill.

Cook also has a nice crossover move in his repertoire which helps shed defenders. Here, after using a screen, he puts the big on skates and draws the foul at the rim.

On this play, Josh Magette is lucky that Ryan Kelly is alert to the danger, cutting off the driving lane on this possession because after Cook hit Maggette with the crossover, he was done. Cook, however, reloads and still manages to score as he stops on a dime and pulls up, shedding Magette and freeing himself the space he needs.

Unfortunately for Magette, Kelly wasn’t able to help him on this possession as Cook crosses Magette and hits the quick three.

Again, I hear. ‘Does this translate to the NBA?’ Yes, it can.

Against the Warriors, Cook sheds Ian Clark with the crossover, drives to the rim and brilliantly lifts his layup over the outstretched Kevin Durant.

In case you didn’t know, Kevin Durant is a long dude...

Cook also operates well in pick-and-rolls. We’ve seen how he attacks the big in pick-and-rolls but he can also operate behind them. He can shoot the ball well from mid-range, so if you go under that screen you will be punished.

He can also hit the three-pointer. In March and April — when he was with the Pelicans — he shot 48% from behind the arc.

Cook also shows extended range.

He’s also a strong guard and uses his body, cleverly too.

Here — after a screen — Cook uses his body to feel where the defense is. Once he recognises and feels that the defense is on his right, he takes a step to his left and shoots.

Here, Cook uses his body (while also absorbing the contact) to create separation between himself and his defender in transition.

I guess to summarize, Quinn Cook can just score, man. Here are some other instances of Cook’s extended offense action — spin moves, pump fakes, step throughs, transition etc.

You can clearly see that Quinn Cook can score in a variety of ways, but his ability to get to the rim and his ability to shoot are the greatest strengths of his offensive game.

The one thing you could say that goes against Cook in the Hawks’ offense is that he has the ball in his hands for too long in a ball movement offense and he sometimes takes some bad shots, but he’s really no different to Dennis Schröder in that regard, who just does what he wants at times. In fact, I’d say he’s better in that department than Dennis.

Overall, as a scorer, Cook will be a great addition to the Hawks. His ability to create for himself will certainly help in a team that’s sure to be offensively challenged. He will add a nice scoring touch off the bench.

Passing

But, of course, there’s more to Cook than just scoring. He’s a point guard, which means the onus is on him to create offense not only for himself but for others too.

And he can definitely do that.

Let’s start with his ability to score at the rim. As you can probably imagine, Cook’s ability to get to the rim opens up opportunities for his teammates.

After easily navigating his way past Magette and John Collins, Cook sees and finds the open man in the corner, but shot is missed on this occasion.

In a late game situation against the Hawks in Summer League, Cook manages to draw the attention of the entire defense before kicking it out to the corner shooter.

Unfortunately for the Pelicans, the shot is missed and the Hawks would go on to win this game as a result.

This next play was the knockout blow for the Hawks at Summer League as they were eliminated from the tournament by the Pelicans and Cook’s 26 points, seven assist performance. This was one of his seven assists.

Again, penetrate and kick. This is something that will greatly help the Hawks’ offense. They have the shooters — Marco Belinelli, Luke Babbitt, Ersan Ilyasova and Mike Muscala to name a few. But they need someone — besides Schröder — who can break down a defense and either score himself or create an open look for someone else ,and Cook can do that. This should definitely help the second unit’s production.

Cook also uses his dribble really effectively to create looks for others — look at how he probes near the paint, draws the defense to him and then finds the shooter.

He has the awareness and the vision...

The difference at the next level will be that his teammates should be able to actually make those shots...

Cook also operates well in the pick-and-roll as a facilitator, which is a good thing since the Hawks run a lot of pick-and-roll plays.

Here, Cook slips a beauty of a pass to Cheick Diallo, who does a great job using his length to score, plus the foul.

Here, Cook lifts a beautiful pass over the outstretched defense to the rolling Jaleel Cousins, who is unable to convert at the rim.

Cook connects well with Alexis Ajinca off of the pick-and-roll, delivering him a sweet bounce-pass and Ajinca steps into the mid-range shot.

You can picture John Collins stepping into that mid-range if you want...

Not long after this, Cook and Ajinca hook up again, this time Ajinca goes upstairs and Cook finds him with a lob.

Overall, though he isn’t a pass-first point guard, Cook is certainly more than capable of finding his teammates and creating great shot opportunities for them. His ability to break down the defense should help the second unit’s/bench’s production.

Defense

In the games I watched of Cook (four of them), he wasn’t majorly tested on defense but there was nothing I saw that would at all suggest he’s a poor defender or anything of the sort. I would say Cook is a good defender. He’s strong, quick, focused and understands team defense well.

He gets after it and competes, even if he’s caught up in a mismatch.

After being switched onto Taurean Prince, Cook does not allow him to get by him and does a good job contesting Prince’s shot which ends up being a wild toss.

When switched onto Kevin Durant, Cook doesn’t back down from the challenge. He moves his feet well, stays in front of Durant and contests as best as he can on a seven footer.

After a JaVale McGee screen separates Cook from Ian Clark, Cook shows effort and fights to get himself back in front of Clark and he does so, preventing Clark from putting up a shot in the paint. McGee, however, finds a way to score.

After being switched onto Klay Thompson, Klay calls for the ball. However, he’s unable to find a way past Cook and he’s forced to give the ball up.

I’m not saying that Cook is a Tony Allen-like defender, but he’s definitely capable of not only defending his own position but shooting guards too, as well as larger players on switches. He competes hard, and that always counts for a lot. He should be more than able to hold his own out on the floor.

In Conclusion

Quinn Cook is a great player to take a flier on. He’s only 24 years old and, as you can see, he obviously has a lot of talent.

He also has a lot of heart.

During the Pelicans’ Summer League game against the Brooklyn Nets, the Nets were up by 24 points in the second half (they were just destroying the Pels) and Cook still continued to compete at a high level and really get after it.

He hustles back, comes up with the steal, pushes in transition and makes the right play. After that, he rushes over to help his teammate up as the Nets look to push. He just kept playing no matter what the scoreline was.

He’s also always willing to learn. He was constantly talking to Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry at Summer League, even during the game as Gentry sat court-side as a spectator. He’s a high character guy, something Hawks GM Travis Schlenk values.

I would be astounded if Cook failed to make it out of training camp. I really think Cook has a great chance to fight his way into the role as the Hawks’ backup point guard. He brings a scoring touch the Hawks really need and an ability to make plays for himself and others which is something else the Hawks really need. It’s going to be a great scrap between himself and Malcolm Delaney. The competition will do them both good.

The Hawks didn’t want to run with just two point guards again as they did last season and adding Quinn Cook to their point guard core of Dennis Schröder and Malcolm Delaney was the best thing the Hawks could’ve done.

Welcome to the NBA, for real this time, Quinn Cook.