Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot (aka TLC) may not be a household name for most Atlanta Hawks fans, but his addition to the roster on a non-guaranteed one-year contract is a wily pick up by Travis Schlenk and gives some clues about team needs and depth. There’s no doubt that the 26-year old French national will have to work very hard to make it on the opening day roster, and even harder after that to find steady minutes in this rotation, but there is upside to this signing.
Luwawu-Cabarrot was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers with the No. 24 pick in 2016. He’s bounced around the league a bit since then, and most recently was in Brooklyn for two seasons. He competed with the French national team during the Olympic tournament this summer, where he won a silver medal for his country while averaging 20 minutes, nine points, and 1.3 steals a game. Both internationally and in the NBA, TLC has found a way to minutes with high-energy defense and athleticism, but he lacks a few other critical tools that would take his game to the next level. Now entering his late 20’s, some may wonder if time is running out on showing those tools.
Luwawi-Cabarrot’s best season was the 2019-20 season with Brooklyn where he boasted a 55.0% eFG, 38.8% from three point territory, and a stout 112 DRTG, which is impressive for someone who played with the 2nd unit for limited minutes. However, with the on-court additions of Kevin Durant and James Harden in the 2020-21 season, TLC found it harder to make an impact and saw regression by almost all the metrics. It makes sense that he didn’t return to the Nets roster with that team’s aspirations, but he could be a good fit Atlanta.
First off, with Atlanta’s injury problems at the wing, it will be important to have someone like Luwawu-Cabarrot who can defend the point of attack and guard multiple positions in a switching scheme. In games where the Hawks may be missing Hunter, Reddish, Bogdanovic, or Huerter, his 6’7” frame and his quickness will be exactly the type of depth skills that could turn tough mid-season games into potential positives. Luwawu-Cabarrot’s defense will be why he sees the floor, but if he can show the kind of shooting he showed two years ago, he may find himself playing higher leverage minutes. However, if he can’t hit open shots and doesn’t show the strength to defend multiple positions, he’ll find himself out of the lineup very quickly should he make the final roster.
While it is obvious that turning into a viable 3&D option is the best case scenario for Luwawu-Cabarrot, it’s not completely out of the cards if he has the opportunity to blend with this roster. The star power in Brooklyn kept him on the fringes, and it will be interesting to see how TLC gels with this group in Atlanta. It’s quite possible that he doesn’t make the opening day roster at all (as with Jahlil Okafor) and he will not be high on the list of development priorities for the Hawks front office, but there is still some potential for the Cannes-born player that the Hawks may find very valuable if certain things (namely: injuries) don’t go their way this year.