It’s that time of the summer when basketball takes over Las Vegas for two weeks. The NBA 2K23 Summer League is back in motion, as it’s time to see a sneak peek of the rookies, second-year players, and many more. For the Atlanta Hawks, they start their Summer League journey against the Utah Jazz on July 9th at 7:30 p.m.
This year, Hawks assistant coach Nick Van Exel will take over the reigns as being the coach for the Summer League team, which makes this his first time serving as a head coach for a full Summer League. He’ll have some help, with Jamelle McMillan, Paul Jesperson, and Steve Gansey taking part as assistant coaches for the team.
As far as the product that will be put on the court, you’ll see a mixture of rookies, College Park Skyhawks players, two-way players, and a few familiar faces as well.
It will be our first time seeing the Hawks’ two draft picks, AJ Griffin and Tyrese Martin in action. Griffin’s strength is his shooting, so it will be a plus to see what other things we can expect from him. Martin is known for his high energy and tenacity on defense, which is something that the Hawks could definitely use. It will be interesting to see how the Summer League coaching staff decides to utilize these two draft picks.
College Park is back
The Hawks are bringing along some of their players that played for the Skyhawks last season, most notably last year's draft pick Sharife Cooper. Cooper spent most of his time last season in College Park, and by the end of the season, you could see the growth in his game. Marcus Georges-Hunt will be a part of the ride as well, as he played an important for the Skyhawks as well. Justin Tillman was arguably the best player for the Skyhawks last year, averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds on the season. If the Hawks are looking to add another big man to the roster, this would be a nice tryout session for Tillman.
The Hawks picked up a few undrafted players to give them a shot to show their talent in Vegas. James Akinjo is coming from Baylor and averaged 13.5 points and 5.8 assists during the season. Anthony Duruji is coming off a season playing with Florida, averaging 8.6 points and 4.1 rebounds. Tyson Etienne is coming from Wichita State, averaging 14.9 points. Grant Golden fills out the undrafted rookies list for the team, coming from Richmond and averaging 13.7 points and six rebounds on the season.
It’s no surprise to see some familiar faces come back and play for the Hawks Summer League team. After playing last year, Max Heidegger is back with the team, as he averaged 7.7 points in three games. A name Hawks fans may remember is Alpha Kaba, who was drafted by the team in 2017. In total, Kaba has appeared in 12 Summer League games for the Hawks, averaging 5.8 points and 5.3 rebounds. Another familiar face is Chaundee Brown Jr., who played an important part on the team for a few games last season as the Hawks went through many players having to go into COVID-19 protocols. Brown appeared in three games during the season, averaging 9.7 points and 4.7 rebounds.
Joel Ayayi is entering his second season, and spent most of his last year with the Capital City Go-Go, averaging 11.1 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 6.3 assists. Chris Clemons appeared in 31 games for the Maine Celtics last season, averaging 17.8 points.
Besides the first game, the Hawks will see action on July 11th against the New Orleans Pelicans, July 12th against the Miami Heat, and July 14th against the San Antonio Spurs. The two teams with the best record will play in the championship game on July 17th, and the other 28 teams will play a fifth game on July 16th or 17th.
Let’s see what the Hawks can do in these next four games.