While the rest of the league marveled at the sheer absurdity of Boogie Cousins in Oakland, the Atlanta Hawks opened their 2018 NBA Summer League journey on Monday evening, with the first of (at least) eight games over the next two weeks. The opener provided positives and negatives up and down the roster but, in the end, the final result on the scoreboard was lopsided in favor of the Memphis Grizzlies, 103-88.
In the early going, Jaren Jackson Jr. set the tone for the Grizzlies, as the No. 4 overall pick knocked down two threes in the opening minutes (before exploding for 29 points on 15 shots for the full game) and produced some defensive highlights. For the Hawks, there were struggles from Trae Young (more to come on that) but John Collins was tremendous, scoring six points in the first five minutes and producing a few highlight-worthy plays.
In addition, Omari Spellman played well, including an early dunk after a delivery from Young.
Then, Collins and Spellman hooked up with some sensual big man passing for a dunk.
Much of the first half was marred by inconsistency from Atlanta’s offense but non-roster invitee Brandon Sampson even produced a flourish in the second quarter.
Back-to-back buckets for Brandon Sampson pic.twitter.com/cSF5y9W7lN— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) July 2, 2018
The biggest story, for better or worse, was the struggles of Young, who missed his first ten shots and did not record a field goal until the second half. Mercifully, his shooting drought came to an end in the third quarter with an off-the-dribble three.
There were still highlights, however, with Spellman producing a big-time block.
Despite his shooting issues, Young’s passing garnered a great deal of attention and rightly so.
In the end, the Hawks simply weren’t efficient enough offensively to get a win, with the team connecting on only 37 percent of its shots and 9 of 40 (!) from three. Young’s final stat line (16 points on 4 of 20 shooting) will draw a ton of attention and there was no question that he scuffled.
There were positives in the form of his passing and general competitiveness on defense, though, and they should be noted. Beyond that, one Summer League game shouldn’t be enough to make sweeping conclusions, even if some will choose to do so.
Elsewhere, it was clear that Collins was the best player on the floor for Atlanta, which could inspire questions on just how long he’ll remain in the Summer League lineup. Spellman (11 points, six rebounds, two blocks) and Tyler Dorsey (18 points, seven rebounds, four assists) also produced strong performances.
Stay tuned as the Hawks continue their travels with another game (against the Spurs at 7:00 pm ET) on Tuesday evening in Salt Lake City.