For a team like the Atlanta Hawks in a rebuilding mode, it is always nice to have some good takeaways from the NBA Summer League, which was born out of player development necessity. This season the Hawks Summer League team featured three first round picks made by Atlanta over the last two seasons in John Collins, Trae Young and Omari Spellman, which gave fans a good chance to see these players’ styles and tendencies.
Beginning in the Utah Summer League, the Hawks got off to a sluggish start as a whole and their top picks especially were scrutinized early.
Much has been made of top 2018 Draft selection Trae Young who had a rough time shooting the ball, but did show off some of his advanced passing skills in Utah that was part of the reasoning for Atlanta using a top five pick on him. Young shot just 23 percent overall from the field in Utah while taking the second most shot attempts of any player. As mentioned before Young did show off some of his passing prowess by averaging 4.3 assists per game in 29 minutes a game, but overall Utah was a big disappointment for Trae.
Omari Spellman enjoyed a better stay in Utah than Young did for sure yet was still somewhat underwhelming. Spellman did average 10 points per game but shot just 33 percent from the field and was very inefficient from three point range after a season at Villanova that saw him shoot 43 percent from beyond the arc. Spellman was a strong rebounder in Utah and ranked among the leaders with nearly eight per game in just over 23 minutes per match. He also showed the Hawks some defense that no one really though he was capable of, as he blocked 1.3 shots per game and averaged 1.7 steals for good measure while showing some good defensive footwork in the post and good closing speed on the perimeter.
John Collins was the guy that Hawk fans were least worried about after coming off a season that saw him earn All Rookie Second Team honors. Collins did not disappoint in Utah averaging 14 points and 6.5 rebounds while shooting 52 percent from the field and raining in shots from around the arc efficiently. Collins did not play many minutes in Utah for good reason but was largely the best player in the Jazz Summer League outside of Jaren Jackson Jr.
The Hawks second round pick from a season ago, Tyler Dorsey, was also in attendance and put up some very solid individual numbers. Dorsey wasn’t the most efficient in his work, but did average just over 16 points per game and rebounded his position well, averaging just over five per game.
Newly minted Hawks two-way player Jaylen Adams was also decent in Utah while seeing some modest minutes. Adams averaged just over seven points a game along with two rebounds and two assists per match. He will most likely see the bulk of the point guard minutes in Erie this season and could become a valuable asset for the Atlanta team should injuries arise.
To round out the Utah squad the Hawks brought two guys that were on Atlanta’s regular season team last year in Antonius Cleveland and Jaylen Morris. Morris was about what you might have come to expect after seeing him play last season averaging nearly seven points per game and playing solid defense with nearly a steal per game. Cleveland was the biggest surprise of the Utah league after not playing much last season due to injury. Cleveland looked like an NBA player defensively and offensively showed off some advanced leaping abilities while being efficient at the same time on 45 percent shooting from the field and setting up his teammates to the tune of 3.3 assists per game.
Once the Hawks got to Vegas things began to pick up for just about everyone on the club and it all began with Trae Young who began to show why he warranted a top five selection in the 2018 Draft.
Young didn’t necessarily come roaring out of the gates at the Las Vegas Summer League, but did warm up to his expectations more every game. Young experienced a much more efficient shooting percentage on the whole in Vegas at 38 percent and shot much better from three point range as well in high volume fashion. Young only played in four of the six games in an effort to find him some rest near the end of the tournament, but made every minute count averaging 17 points and seven assists, while also playing some sound defense that featured him averaging 1.5 steals per game. Young was most impressive in his final five minutes of Vegas during the Hawks epic comeback from being down 27 points to the Pacers when he threw at least five straight passes of 25 feet or more with perfect precision towards the paint for assists and hit several clutch shots in the final two minutes. Young finished his summer on a high note and has quelled the critics, at least for now.
Omari Spellman also had a much improved stay in Vegas compared to Utah. His averages did not increase much but he was more efficient and his final game was also his best game with some next-level highlight plays. Spellman also maintained his good work defensively which is fantastic news for the Hawks as he spent most of his time defending opposing fives and thus gives Atlanta the confidence to put him on the floor at either the four or five position without worry.
John Collins was always too good for the Summer League, but if there was any doubt, he erased that notion with his play in Vegas. Collins only appeared in two games but set the high bar averaging 24 points and 8.5 rebounds. The Summer League was a great opportunity for Collins to start building new chemistry with his teammates Trae Young, Omari Spellman, Tyler Dorsey and Kevin Huerter who was injured but still on the sidelines for moral support.
For as good as Dorsey was in Utah he was even better when the team got to Vegas. Dorsey showed off a wide range of offensive skills but was most impressive beyond the three point line where he played a pivotal role in the aforementioned Hawks comeback from being down 27 to the Pacers. Overall Dorsey finished averaging 19.5 points per game along with 4 assists and 11(!) rebounds per game.
Jaylen Adams was also pretty solid all-around in Vegas and averaged ten points per game to go along with three rebounds and three assists per game. Adams looks to be another solid undrafted player pick up by Travis Schlenk and co.
The Hawks other two roster players from last season, Cleveland and Morris, ended up appearing in all six Vegas games and played well once again. Antonius Cleveland was most impressive for the duration of the summer and shined bright in Vegas averaging ten points per game and shooting efficiently again at 46 percent from the field. Cleveland stuffed the stat sheet with 4.5 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.3 steals and just under 0.5 blocks per game to round out what was a very successful Summer League for the 24-year-old. Jaylen Morris was good in his own right doing a little bit of everything for the Hawks by averaging nearly eight points, five rebounds and two assists per game.
The Hawks definitely had an up-and-down summer while switching between Utah and Las Vegas, but on the whole it was a productive summer. Lloyd Pierce got a chance to gain some head coaching experience during his time in Utah and really the whole staff got a chance to engage with players like John Collins, Trae Young and Omari Spellman who should all have huge roles for the Hawks in 2018.
Next on the docket for Atlanta comes training camp and possibly signing some new free agents. Stay tuned because Peachtree Hoops has you covered for all the latest.