The Atlanta Hawks finally notched their first Summer League victory as they knocked off the Chicago Bulls 101-93 on Tuesday night, in the final game before the tournament phase of Las Vegas Summer League, which begins today.
Trae Young led the way with 24 points while Jaylen Adams added 23 points.
For the Bulls, Wendell Carter Jr. and Antonio Blakeney both scored 23 points.
Trae Young has arrived
When Trae Young arrived in Utah for the first leg of his Summer League adventure, this was the game people expected of him. It had been a struggle leading up to this point but Young has finally broken through.
Young finished with a game-high 24 points on 7-of-19 shooting from the field and 7-of-13 from behind the arc.
Prior to this point, Young’s three-point shot hadn’t really arrived at Summer League, shooting 6-of-35 prior to yesterday’s contest — to the malign of many.
But Young’s confidence and comfort has been steadily growing and Young himself knew that it was only a matter of time before his shot finally started falling, and last night it all came together as he hit more three-pointers in this one game as he had through all of Summer League.
Let’s look at a few.
Young obviously isn’t shy when shooting, and on this possession he weaves his way around bodies before getting to his spot and launching a contested three-pointer that goes down:
In college, Young often pulled up from spots far beyond the college three-pointer, and he’s doing it at Summer League too with the NBA three-pointer. Here, Young comes off of the Alpha Kaba screen and as soon as he gets an inkling of space...it’s gone — the ball is on its way, and Young hits the deep three:
Following some great ball movement from the Hawks, the ball ends up with Young, who fakes to shed Ryan Arcidiacono, steps to his side and then back as he ensures that he is behind the three-point line, and Young cans the three:
Again, give Young any ounce of separation in an area where he can let it fly and, you guessed it, he’s going to let it fly, and he lets fly from deep off of the hand-off by Jock Landale;
And to finish off, Young drains a deep three right in Arcidiacono’s face — who he had been jawing with a for a lot of this game:
Hawks Summer League coach Chris Jent thought that Young hitting his first three early on was key to him getting going but Young didn’t think this was necessarily the case.
“Nah, I mean... Of course when you make one early it feels good but at the end of the day whenever you get in a rhythm and each game you get better and better, that’s my main thing — just try and get better each and every game. So far that’s what I’ve been doing and that’s all I can focus on,” said Young postgame.
And just as he has in, pretty much, every game so far in Summer League, Young has been able to find his teammates.
On the drive from the three-point line, Young gets inside and kicks out to the open Jaylen Adams, who hits the three:
In transition, Young keeps his head up and scans the floor as he heads up it, finding Antonius Cleveland for the alley-oop:
In the pick-and-roll this time, Jock Landale sets a screen and finds himself open as he rolls to the rim, with Young delivering him the pass which results in a dunk:
On the out-of-bounds play, Young receives the ball from Cleveland, works from the baseline to the paint and finds the cutting Alpha Kaba for the layup:
On the drive, Young collapses the defense and finds Omari Spellman for the dunk:
I don’t want to rain on the parade here, but there is something to make note of...
This was a good game from Young, a huge game — but there were problems too. The main issue was Young’s ability to finish at the rim — the issue being that, well, he didn’t...
After stealing the ball from Arcidiacono, Young gets to the rim but can’t extend far enough to finish the layup and ends up on the floor as his shot misses:
In transition, Youngs ends up with the ball and steams his way to the rim but, again, can’t finish:
For once, Young makes a move off of the ball — making a nice cut from the corner — but blows the layup at the rim:
On the drive, Young gets inside and tries to lift his shot over the defense for the score but, again, Young is unable to do so:
This inability to finish at the rim has been a problem for Young and his lack of length, for one, is causing an issue at the rim. His size and frame also create problems for him in traffic near the rim...
Overall, Young still enjoyed his one of his best games of Summer League. To see the perimeter shot fall as many times as it did — with the Bulls playing Young pretty tightly at times, as you saw in some of those makes — is really encouraging for Young, and he continues to do a good job finding/setting up teammates.
Hopefully for Young’s sake, he can carry this momentum in the Hawks’ next game, later today against the Indiana Pacers.
Trae Young wasn’t the only one to have a standout game — in fact, there were many impressive games from multiple Hawks across the board.
The biggest one would have to be Hawks’ two-way player Jaylen Adams, who poured out 23 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the field and 5-of-7 from behind the arc.
“Jaylen Adams played very well,” said Chris Jent of Adams. “You saw what he did in college today, happy for him.”
Adams a very interesting prospect... No disrespect to the Hawks’ previous two-way players in Josh Magette, Tyler Cavanaugh and Andrew White, but there just never seemed to be a huge amount of upside long-term. With Jaylen Adams, there’s definitely some upside to be had long-term and everyone saw a bit of that last night as he displayed his ability to score the ball.
The other Jaylen, Jaylen Morris, also had an impressive game as he scored 17 points and grabbed six rebounds while showing his usual ability to defend,
“Jaylen Morris is just a bulldog,” said Jent. “You love to coach a guy like that, he gets after it. He’s always, typically, guarding the best offensive player.”
A guy who, at least I haven’t spoken about much but has actually put together a really solid Summer League is Antonius Cleveland. Cleveland didn’t pour in seven threes like Trae Young but still put together a solid line of 12 points, eight rebounds, two assists and two steals.
We didn’t see a ton of Antonius Cleveland as the regular season drew to a close — due to injury — but we’re (collectively, not ‘we’ the team...anytime I use ‘we’, it’s collectively) getting a much better look at him now in Summer League and he has looked strong. At 6 feet 7 inches and at 24 years old, Cleveland makes an interesting wing prospect heading into the season... A strong Summer League campaign certainly hasn’t harmed his chances heading into next season...
Alpha Kaba also enjoyed his best game of Summer League. The 60th overall pick from 2017 scored 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting and grabbed five rebounds.
Kaba is clearly much improved looking and last night’s showing certainly makes you wonder — even if it was just for a second —if the 60th overall pick could yet find his way in the NBA\G League, still just 22 years old and playing professionally in France.
While there’s still lots of work for Kaba to do, he certainly impressed his coach yesterday.
“He played great,” said Jent of Kaba. “They’re a bigger team, physical. He did a great job in the paint, was a presence. We’re happy for him.”
“You want to see growth,” Jent continued. “You look at his body and he’s obviously been working on his body — he looks so much more mature than he did last year. I think he’s moving better. And just his feel, his feel for the game of basketball is much improved.”
I’d personally like to see Kaba get a bit more of a run here as the tournament phase begins, certainly, he should be playing in front of Jock Landale in the starting lineup, even if Omari Spellman and Kaba is a big frontcourt — who cares, it’s Summer League and Kaba is a Hawks draft pick whereas Landale is not (and hasn’t looked good anyways).
So, there you go. Trae was certainly not the only Hawk to standout yesterday — a lot of Hawks played well and a lot of them actual members of the team/under contract, which is always encouraging.
The Hawks are back in action today as they take on the Indiana Pacers in the first round of the tournament phase, tipping off at 8:30 ET.
Should be fun.