Spellman Brings Passion and Experience To Atlanta Hawks

Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images

Story by KL Chouinard
Twitter: @KLChouinard

When head coach Lloyd Pierce was asked about his rookies standing up to the rigors of an NBA regular season after only playing about 35 games in their college seasons, Pierce countered with a quick quip.

"Luckily, Omari has played about 40 games, so he's a little bit closer than the other two guys."

While Pierce's full answer noted that nothing will prepare the rookies save for the 82-game experience itself, he was also hinting at the fact that Omari Spellman has a championship pedigree. In his one season at Villanova, the 6-foot-9 forward averaged 10.7 points and 7.6 rebounds in 40 games for a Wildcats team that won the 2018 Final Four. 

Apart from the games and the title experience, Spellman brings some other factors that could help him see the court earlier than most rookies. He's the oldest of the Hawks' young trio; he'll turn 21 in July. Spellman also has the wingspan (7-foot-2) and weight (253 lbs.) to be enough of a physical presence to bang inside with older players.

General Manager Travis Schlenk made a point of adding one more variable to that equation.

"What really stands out about Omari is his passion," Schlenk said. "With the intensity that he plays with every night, I think the city is going to fall in love with how hard he plays. Now, from my perspective, what goes along great with that is (43 percent) three-point shooting."

When asked how he could share the experience of winning with his new Hawks teammates, Spellman took his time and considered the question with care and deliberation. 

"I never really thought of myself as teaching someone," he said. "I'm 20."

Spellman then went a little bit deeper to share his approach.

"But if there's one thing that I can take away from my success from Villanova, it's just to try to get better every day. And if everyone tries to get better every day, that gives us our best chance to be the best team we can be. And if the best team we can be at the end of the year is a championship team or not, if you know that you gave it your all every day, you can live with the results — just get back to the work in the offseason.

The Hawks "offseason" kicks into full swing next week when they head out to Salt Lake City for Utah Summer League. Starting Monday, Spellman will get to show the Hawks the type of energy he can bring to the court. 

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