After falling short in their first two outings at Las Vegas Summer League, the Atlanta Hawks finally picked up their first summer victory in comfortable fashion against the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday afternoon.
Despite the absence of fourth overall selection De’Andre Hunter — sidelined with a sore knee, which Hawks assistant coach Matt Hill described as “nothing serious” — there were still plenty of positives to take away from this game as the Hawks comfortably outlasted the Pacers in the end.
For the game itself, it was never really close once the Hawks found their momentum in the first quarter. The Pacers did close up in the second quarter for a time with an 11-2 run but the Hawks responded, and it was never close after that. Though both teams ultimately finished with 18 turnovers apiece, it was Indiana’s early turnovers that caused them issues. Their inability to hit the three-pointer also hurt them, shooting 4-of-29 on threes, Atlanta shooting 8-of-21 helping their case significantly in this game, again in the early going — Jordan Sibert hitting seven of them in total.
Speaking of, Jordan Sibert led the scoring load with 21 points as he continued to shoot at will but finally saw his shots fall with a degree of success this time around, hitting seven three-pointers on nine attempts.
Atlanta’s two-way signee, Charlie Brown Jr., made his debut on Monday and showed promising signs of a scorer as he scored 18 points on 8-of-15 shooting from the field in a team-high 32 minutes.
With Brown being a new face (alongside Bruno Fernando) to the foray of action — missing the first two game due to injury — focusing on his 18 points would seem like a good place to begin today, as he was generally very positive offensively on the game.
One characteristic that Brown displayed early on was his confidence — he’s not afraid to get shots up there.
Here was a play that highlighted that, as he picks up the rebound off of a miss, takes it the other way and pulls from three but finds his three-pointer fall short on this occasion:
Probably not the greatest shot to take but just one of the shots that Brown attempted that showcased his confidence (and it’s worth noting that the three-point shot just wasn’t one that was on Brown’s side yesterday, shooting 0-of-4 on threes attempted).
Though, to be fair, Brown hit two very long two-pointers that really should’ve been three-pointers had he positioned himself better, receiving the ball in transition after the steal from Tahjere McCall:
And literally one possession earlier, Brown hits another long two after the hand-off:
So, there may be some three-point potential for Brown, but will have to be a bit more aware of where his feet are when he rises.
The majority of Brown’s offensive work came on the move, he was effective on his drives.
After mishandling the ball, Brown sets himself up again and makes a strong drive going to his left, getting to the rim and lifting his left-handed layup high off of glass and in:
Receiving the ball on the wing this time, Brown drives inside and this time elects to pull-up into a runner, which he converts, despite contact (for which he wanted a foul call):
Here, Brown moves off of the ball, receives the pass from Adams, drives to his left into the space — taking advantage of some poor Indiana defense as no one rotates to help/plug the gap — before switching hands and finishing the play, plus the foul:
Coming out of an out-of-bounds-play, Brown inbounds the ball, moves to the three-point line, receives the ball, drives, hops to his desired spot and finishes with his left hand at the rim, extending nicely to finish:
There were a few other ways that Brown got to his 18 points, two of them coming right at the end of the first quarter as he drives from the three-point line and pulls-up into the contested mid-range shot, which he buries:
After a series of misses at the rim, Brown collects the offensive rebound and is the one to finally finish the play:
With 18 points on his debut and showing a nice offensive touch, it was an encouraging start to life as a Hawk for Charlie Brown. How he follows on this performance against the Wizards on Thursday will be interesting to see.
De’Andre Hunter missing out on yesterday’s contest was unfortunate but fellow Hawks draftee Bruno Fernando did at least play and, again, showed some encouraging signs — scoring six points on 2-of-5 shooting to go along with three blocks.
Offensively, he had some moments, including this smooth offensive move as he receives the ball on the three-point line, waits momentarily for the defender, drives, stops around the free throw line and rises into the mid-range jumper:
For someone who’s 6’10, the fluidity of this move is very impressive and that has to be encouraging if you’re the Hawks.
In the fourth quarter, Fernando leads the defense somewhat, perhaps expecting him to pass, but instead takes it to the rim for the bucket on the drive from the perimeter:
Again, the smoothness and ease Fernando was able to do this with is very encouraging out of the gate.
The one knock I would have against Fernando is that he shown considerable reluctance to shoot when he’s open preferring to drive inside and explore his options rather than shoot the open three, showing such reluctance on this possession before throwing a poor pass to Brown:
Though, when you consider that Fernando’s only three-point attempt ended up in this airball, maybe that reluctance isn’t a surprise:
It’s something that the coaching staff are trying work with Fernando, to encourage him to shoot when he’s open.
“He’s going to learn when he’s open, he’s got to shoot the ball,” Hawks assistant coach Matt Hill said post-game. “And he will once he gains that confidence.”
“They tell me every time I’m open if I’m able to make that shot and shoot it with confidence,” said Fernando post-game.
One of the things Fernando is getting used to is not only his new teammates with limited practice but a new role as well, one that has him on the perimeter more than he’s used to.
“In college I was an inside guy at all times, just staying on the block, on the block, on the block,” said Fernando. “Obviously here, I get a chance to stay outside a little more, be on the perimeter, drive on guys on the closeouts and just being able to shoot the ball more than I did in college, so I think that’s a role I got to get used to.”
While the coaching staff are encouraging Fernando to shoot, they’d also like him to be a bit more active on the glass — Fernando coming up with just one rebound yesterday.
“We’d like to see him on the glass a little more,” said Hill. “One rebound, we need him to be up in the five, six, seven rebound (range) at least, but I liked his energy and effort.”
Defensively, there were some up and down moments.
On this play, Fernando guards the wing very well on his own and helps knock the ball out of play:
You just have to love, love, love the footwork displayed by Fernando here defensively — absolutely beautiful, really encouraging.
On this play, Fernando’s presence proves to be a factor, forcing a bad shot from Indiana:
This next play was probably Fernando’s best defensive sequence from yesterday
It starts with the pick-and-roll where he doubles on the ball-handler, helps force a tough pass inside, the Pacers miss inside, set up again, Fernando relocates to the paint and is there again to disrupt the play at the rim as the Pacers commit the 24 second violation:
One of Fernando’s three blocks on the game.
As for some of the things you’d like to see Fernando do better, his help defense was a little late at times, such as on this play here in transition where he could’ve hustled a bit more to get into position to contest this shot:
Fernando just kind of held back on that one.
Again, Fernando can do more on this defensive play as a help defender, showing a lack of effort to contest on this shot at the rim:
Literally the next defensive possession Fernando, again, is caught out in a fastbreak situation and, again, could do more to contest this shot:
As a whole on the game, the good does outweigh the bad and things like this shouldn’t cause too much concern — more of an effort thing more so than awareness.
While Fernando and Brown are going to, naturally, garner a bit more attention from yesterday’s game — given that they will feature for the Hawks next season in one form or another — it is worth talking a little more about Jordan Sibert’s game.
After two difficult outings where he struggled shooting the ball (and that’s an understatement), Sibert came to life off of the bench as he hit seven three-pointers in 17 minutes of play.
Sibert did most of his damage in the first half, more specifically, towards the end of the first quarter/opening few minutes of the second quarter and helped the Hawks establish a margin between themselves and the Pacers.
Similar to Brown, Sibert has no issues pulling up whenever and wherever and it paid off last night after it certainly did not in his first two games.
Tahjere McCall returned after a one-game absence and similar to his first game, was extremely impressive defensively and showed some decent moments offensively too — scoring 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting, 1-of-4 from three, grabbing seven rebounds, dishing four assists and securing two steals in 29 minutes of action.
McCall has been the best player on the floor for the Hawks’ summer iteration so far and has just looked considerably more advanced, defensively, than anyone he has shared the floor with, with the exception, perhaps, of Minnesota’s Josh Okogie. Certainly far beyond his teammates.
Honestly, I could insert a thousand clips of McCall (and I more than likely will at a later date) but for now I’ll just leave you with this possession where he got the clamps out and locked down the Pacers on this possession:
Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce made another appearance on the broadcast during yesterday’s game and compared McCall to a player Pierce coached in the past: defensive savant Tony Allen.
If that isn’t a ringing endorsement for McCall, I don’t know what is...
Elsewhere, in the aftermath of the Omari Spellman trade, guard Jaylen Adams is now the only returning member of the Hawks regular season side to the Summer League side, and it was just a struggle for Adams again on Tuesday — who is doing little to help his case when it comes to Atlanta retaining him and guaranteeing his contract next season — scoring three points on 1-of-4 shooting from the field in 29 minutes of play and committing seven turnovers in the process.
Adams hasn’t shot the ball well and he hasn’t done a very good job initiating the offense/playmaking either — he was just poor yesterday. Again.
It was important for Adams to come to Vegas and show — on the back of legitimate NBA experience — that he was a step ahead of the competition and that he warranted the Hawks guaranteeing his contract, and it just hasn’t materialized so far. The fact he has been poor (not even average, but legitimately poor) against Summer League competition is just bad news for Adams long-term.
Despite that, there were plenty of positives across the board from the Hawks yesterday as a whole, even in the absence of Hunter, who hopefully returns to the action on Thursday.
Atlanta is back in action on Thursday afternoon against the Washington Wizards.
Until next time...