Season Review: Mike Muscala

Lucas Armstrong/Atlanta Hawks

Note:  We use stats per 36 minutes instead of stats per game on the graphics.  The reason behind that is stats per 36 tell a more complete story of how a player did while he was on the court, as opposed to per game stats which averages a player’s stats based on the number of games that player appeared in, regardless of how many minutes he played.  The per 36 minutes compares all players equally by taking the minutes played out of the equation to measure the most effective players during their time on the court.

After spending much of his rookie season playing in Spain, Mike Muscala was brought to the Hawks in late February to help bolster a frontcourt rotation in need of depth after so many injuries. He played in 20 games for Atlanta, averaging 3.8 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 0.5 blocks in 10.8 minutes per game.

Muscala, known as an excellent offensive player, got off to a rough start in his first nine games, shooting just 30.8 percent from the field and averaged just 1.9 points per game. As he got more accustomed to the offense and the game slowed down for him, he started to show the potential in his offensive game. Muscala shot 48.9 percent from the field and averaged 5.4 points per game in his final 11 games of the season, culminating in a terrific final game against the Bucks where he scored 15 points along with four rebounds, three assists and a pair of blocks.

He showed in those final 11 games why he was the leading scorer on his Spanish League team with 14.6 points per game in just 26.3 minutes per game. Muscala shot 50 percent on two-point shot attempts 16+ feet from the basket -- per Basketball-Reference.com -- and gives the Hawks another big man capable of stepping outside for a jump shot in pick-and-roll/pop or just spotting up to help space the floor.

Muscala is still developing as a defender, particularly in learning how to defend pick-and-rolls, but his length and activity were very apparent. Muscala’s incredibly long wingspan allowed him to erase some of his own mistakes by recovering to alter a shot or get a block. As a help-side defender, his instincts are still developing as he learns Coach Bud’s defensive system, but when he was committed to the rotation, you could see the potential he has to erase shots at the rim on the help-side.

Muscala’s short stint with the Hawks this season showed why they were so pleased to have gotten him in the second round of the draft last season. He played with great energy and has the talent, particularly on offense, to be a difference maker when on the court. His length in the paint is something the Hawks need off the bench for rim protection and rebounding, and his offensive skillset seems to fit perfectly with what Coach Bud wants to see out of his bigs.

Story by Robby Kalland