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Checking in with the College Park Skyhawks and the developmental players

NBA: Preseason-Cleveland Cavaliers at Atlanta Hawks Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA G League kicked off their season a little over a week ago, and the Atlanta Hawks are sure to maintain a steady eye on player progress being made in College Park. New coach Ryan Schmidt is 3-1 in the young season leading the Skyhawks in his first season in charge behind a seventh-ranked defensive rating as of Monday.

Technically, the G League regular season won’t begin until December 27. But the teams are playing in a G League Showcase Cup Season group stage at the moment towards qualification for the Winter Showcase in late December — an annual tournament similar to the NBA In-Season Tournament that debuted this year.

With an increased emphasis on internal development, the senior team will keep close watch of the developmental team — with special focus on the full contract and two-way players with the Hawks. So with that backdrop, let’s check in on the progress of the developmental players after a week of action.

Standard contract Hawks players

Unfortunately, the beginning of the season has not been kind to the two highest draftees for the Hawks in the 2023 NBA Draft. The Hawks’ lone first rounder in 2023, Kobe Bufkin, has suffered a hand injury that has kept him out of both NBA and G League action thus far. From the Atlanta Hawks on November 12:

Guard Kobe Bufkin underwent an X-ray and medical review yesterday on his left thumb, which he fractured on Nov. 2. He will continue to be reviewed weekly and his rehabilitation will progress based on his healing. His return to play timeline is 8-to-10 weeks from the date of injury.

Mouhamed Gueye was drafted in the second round by way of trade and signed to a full contract with guarantees. Sadly, he also is on the shelf at the moment per this update from the Hawks dates back to November 12:

Forward Mouhamed Gueye, who has missed the last two games with a right lower back strain, underwent an MRI yesterday at the Emory Sports Medicine Complex. The MRI revealed a right low back stress fracture. He will be re-evaluated in four weeks and his status will be updated as appropriate.

Two-way players

While Seth Lundy had a slow start in his G League debut, going 1-for-9 from the field, he rebounded in the three following games. He has shown his trademark hustle all over the court en route to per game averages of 16.0 points and 4.3 rebounds. In College Park he’s expected to refine his ‘3-and-D’ profile, so taking two-thirds of his shots behind the arc in the G League shouldn’t come as a surprise.

The other two-way sharpshooter with the Skyhawks, 6-foot-10 forward Miles Norris, has had a rougher go at things so far. He have averaged 8.3 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, but is shooting just 25% from three. On a more positive note, he and Chris Silva have formed an formidable inside-outside pairing in the frontcourt. And despite Silva and Norris giving up some size to most bigs they encounter, they have done a more than adequate job defending the interior to this point.

Key Skyhawks players

Chris Silva is a returning player from last year’s Skyhawks team, and he’s off to a torrid four-game run so far this season. In 30.5 minutes of play, he’s pouring in 22.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, 4.8 assists, and 2.0 blocks a night. The 6-foot-8 Silva is an agile big man with a strong face up game, and his productivity so far places him on the early shortlist for G League MVP.

Keaton Wallace is a speedy downhill 6-foot-3 guard who last played for the Ontario Clippers. Wallace is the second leading scorer on the Skyhawks so far with 18.3 points per game, teaming up with Silva as one of the most productive duos in the G League this season.

The fifth starter for the Skyhawks joining the four above, guard Tyson Etienne is a Hawks fan favorite after his production in the 2022 Las Vegas Summer League. So far this season, he’s following a disappointing 2022-23 Skyhawks campaign with improved effectiveness in 2023-24. 10 points and 3.8 assists per game won’t knock anyone’s socks off, but he’s been key in providing some extra ball handling alongside Keaton Wallace in the backcourt.