While most fans are still trying to get that bitter taste out of their mouths, from that Game 6 loss, to the Indiana Pacers at Philips Arena and then losing Game 7 at Indy in the play-offs last year; things are picking up around the ATL. It first started back in late June, when the Hawks drafted two great prospects in Adreian Payne from Michigan State and then an overseas player named Walter Taveras. Both of these guys are on the summer league team in Las Vegas. After watching a few YouTube videos of Payne playing in college, I see another Al Horford here. You know the way Josh Smith and Al Horford would go up and grab rebounds and then take off down the court? Dribbling it the whole way down the court, so the team could have a shot at a fast break? Well that’s Adreian Payne! He does that a lot. He goes up, grabs the board and if there isn’t a passing lane open or a guard ready to take the pass, he just takes off and leads the break his self. I really like this fast pace of basketball, where the big men can dribble and out run their defenders to the other end of the floor. Mr. Payne and Al are going to keep the pace very fast, with their abilities to hustle down the court with or without the ball in their hands.
As for the 2nd round pick in Taveras, his height is the first thing that comes to mind. Measurements vary a bit, so we will just call him 7 foot 3 for now. He is going to be a project for the Hawks, but worth the time, if he can develop into an effective shot blocker, and rebounder. I really like this pick and can’t wait to see him in action this weekend at Vegas. Yes, he is going to be on the Hawks Summer League Roster!
Before draft night was over, the Hawks did manage to make a deal for another player too. I think the Hawks Brass was hoping Lamar Patterson from Pittsburgh would go undrafted. Unfortunately that didn’t happen, as the Milwaukee Bucks selected Patterson with the 48th overall pick. Whatever the case was, the Hawks had a target on him, and did manage to reach a trade agreement with the Bucks. A future 2nd round pick for Patterson and this may prove to be a cheap price to pay, 5 years down the road, when Patterson is having more triple doubles than Lance Stephenson of the Pacers! Lance had a career year with 13.8 points per game, 7.2 rebounds per game, and still managed to dish out 4.6 assists per game too! I know several Hawks Fans who would like to see the team get Stephenson from Indiana this off-season, but we may already have him! At least a younger version in Patterson. After watching him play in college, there is one thing that immediately jumps out at ya. U-N-S-E-L-F-I-S-H!!! His greatest strength could also be his greatest weakness. Everyone on the team is going to love playing with LP. He is a tremendous passer and if you keep moving, and get open, he will find you. Since he played 4 years in college, he doesn’t have to learn how to play the game on our dime. Patterson and Payne learned the game in college, so now they just have to work on getting better and fitting in to our style of play.
Don’t go away! I’m just getting started on this impressive group of young men the Atlanta Hawks will have representing them in Las Vegas, for the 2014 Summer League. Our “all young” group is only half way complete. Obviously starting at Center for our All Young Team will be the big 7’3″ guy Taveras. At the Power Forward position, we have Adreian Payne. I’m going to use Lamar as my 2 guy or the shooting guard position. Sliding him over to the 1 or 3 spot on the floor, wouldn’t be that big of a deal. He’s more than capable of defending those guys on defense. Perhaps the really, really quick point guards would be an issue, but not many around who can defend them anyways.
Every team needs a star player. Our All Young Team is no different and I will ask Casey Prather from Florida to fill this role on our team. Why did this guy go undrafted? He averaged like 3 points a game for his first 3 years at Florida. Then last year, he played an important role for a team that never lost, and averaged over 15 points a game for his senior season. His outside shot is descent, but the ability to drive in and finish at the rim is what makes this guy our star player. He will get his share of dunks and could find a lot of time at the free throw line, once he learns the NBA Referees. I believe all the experts and NBA Draft Guru’s missed this one. Forget the pencil, you can INK him in as the Small Forward to our All Young Team.
Point guard time! We now need a good guard to run the show for us. It looks like we have two great choices here! I will give the nod to Trevor Releford from Alabama. Another great college player, who played for a great collegiate program, and played at a high level. It remains to be seen, if he can run an NBA offense and keep everyone happy. His ability to score is NBA-Worthy! Let him run the point guard duties as a starter and use Stephen Holt as the back up PG. Holt is 6’4″ and his big size may prove to be needed down the road, as the backcourts in the NBA continue to grow taller.
All Young Team (Hawks Rookies in Summer League)
PG – Trevor Releford #16
SG – Lamar Patterson #10
SF – Casey Prather #28
PF – Adreian Payne #33
C – Walter Taveras #22
*How would this team have played in the NCAA Tournament?
**Could this team beat UCONN?
I would love to see these 5 guys on the court, at the same time, at some point in Vegas next week. The good news is, we got 3 guys who will be helping our All Young Team. Dennis Schroder will likely see the most minutes at PG. Number 12 appears ready to be our leading scorer, as John Jenkins recovers from his recent back surgery. Also, look for Mike Muscala to have a big week in Vegas too.
I really think our guys put together a team this year. Look for us to have our best summer ever! Going out West during the summer, hasn’t always went our way. Some of those Utah Teams we sent to the Rocky Mountain Review didn’t pan out that well. I know, I know, it’s only summer league! No strategies or wins are important. It’s just about evaluating talent and seeing how they play against “quality” competition. However, I think it is different this year. We are loaded with talent and guys that look great on “paper”. I could see Atlanta winning this tournament and will say Casey Prather is our MVP of the Tournament and our Hawks team too!
Which player from the ATL do you see taking home the MVP Honors from our Summer League Team in Vegas?
I know you guys have a lot of questions, let me try to answer some of them now:
When do the Hawks Summer League Team play their first game on TV?
*Game 1 on TV – Sunday 6AM – NBAtv Washington Wizards
*Game 2 on TV – Monday 4AM – NBAtv NBA D-League
*Game 3 on TV – Tuesday 4PM – NBAtv Portland Trail Blazers
*Game 4 on TV – (To Be Determined)
These are the games on television. All times are Eastern Time Zone in Georgia viewing areas.
Another Hawks player to keep an eye on in the summer league action is Michael Bramos. He is 27 years old and he has a great stroke from outside. He can knock down jumpers and has the ability to dunk around the hoop. His ability to jump and shoot makes him a factor in Vegas. Don’t be surprised if he challenges Casey Prather, the Florida Gator Senior, in the race for Team MVP of the Hawks Summer League Team.