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Atlanta Hawks 2018-2019 player preview: Jaylen Adams

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Previewing what Jaylen Adams could contribute to the Hawks this season.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Four Practice Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

In advance of the 2018-2019 NBA season, the Peachtree Hoops crew will preview each player on the current roster. The first installment centers on two-way guard Jaylen Adams.


Every year, players that put up good college numbers from smaller schools go undrafted. These prospects tend to come with more question marks because of the questionable talent they played with and against, but also offer plenty of upside and are worth taking a two-way flier on. Jaylen Adams is absolutely one of those players.

Adams is coming off a season in which he was named the Atlantic-10 Player of the Year for St. Bonaventure. The 6’1 guard is no stranger to playing extended minutes either. He averaged 32.5 minutes per night his freshman year and over 37 a night each of the last three seasons, which is pretty impressive considering the college game is only 40 minutes.

Playing Time

With Jeremy Lin and Trae Young already receiving the bulk of minutes at point, Adams will likely spend most of the year in the G League as a member of the Erie BayHawks. Obviously, injuries and trades can change that, but Adams will be limited to 45 days with the Hawks due to his two-way contract status. Adams figures to start at guard for Erie and may get limited minutes with Atlanta when he is called up.

Offense

Adams lit up the scoreboard last year at St. Bonaventure, averaging 19.1 points per game while slashing .438/.436/.851 shooting the ball. He likes to attack the basket and dish to teammates, leading to 5.4 assists for his college career.

Adams isn’t the best finisher around the rim, which is reflected by his 43.8 percent shooting from the field. He has an awkward looking jumper where he flings his legs out, but the ball falls in at a good rate from beyond the arc at 43.6 percent.

While he struggled around the rim, Adams still had a true shooting percentage of 60.7 percent. He utilizes an effective floater and mid-range game and complements that with outside scoring. His 85.1 percent at the line is also strongly above-average even for a guard. While his sometimes reckless drives to the hoop won’t work in the NBA, his game is explosive and translates well.

The video above shows exactly why his shooting around the basket is sub-par. He’s a crafty finisher but it doesn’t always work out for him. If he can clean that up and raise his percentage of made shots within four feet of the basket, he’ll be fine on that end of the court.

In four NBA Las Vegas summer league games, Adams averaged 10.3 points in 19.3 minutes including this 23-point outburst against Chicago where he shot 75 percent from the field.

Defense

By signing Adams, Atlanta continued a recent trend of signing more offensive-minded guards. He averaged 1.7 steals per game for his career on nearly three fouls per night. One big thing to look at for overall performance (offense and defense combined) is plus/minus. A great defender who is offensively challenged normally posts good plus/minus ratings.

While this applies more to individual game results as opposed to a full season, Adams posted a respectable +6.1 average box plus/minus for his career. This is probably a little more indicative of his offensive prowess however, because he only posted 2.4 defensive win shares for his career as compared to 7.8 offensive win shares.

The offensive-minded Adams also posted a sub-par 106.2 average defensive rating for his career. This essentially means that St. Bonaventure gave up 106.2 points per 100 possessions while Adams was on the floor over the last four seasons. West Virginia guard Jevon Carter (who is known for his defense) put up a 93.8 defensive rating per 100 for his four-year career. Teammates, opponents, and scheme have a lot to do with these numbers, but Adams wasn’t a major aid to his team on that end of the floor in college.

Obviously, nobody expects most guards to defend at that level but Adams doesn’t really come close to that. He likely will not be a plus defender at the pro level and it will be interesting to see how he adjusts on that end of the floor.


While Jaylen Adams may not project to make much of an impact (if any) this season, he could develop in to a nice bench role in the coming seasons as an offensive spark plug. The Bonnies made the NCAA tournament last season and won the NIT tournament in Adams’ sophomore campaign.

The lanky guard is no stranger to success and played the largest role on most of those teams. Don’t expect too much from him this season as a rookie, but it is absolutely worth keeping an eye on his work in Erie and he will likely make an appearance in Atlanta at some point.