Summer League Finish Sets a Good Tone Leading Into Season
Garrett Ellwood/NBAE/Getty Images
Author: Jacob Eisenberg
The Hawks wrapped up their 2018 Summer League on a high note, finishing the Las Vegas portion of the schedule with three wins in their last four games. Here are some notes and observations from their nine Summer League games overall:
Trae Young’s just getting started:
Young got off to a slow start shooting the ball in Utah but really turned things around in Vegas, showing flashes of why he was the first point guard taken off the board in June. Excluding the July 8th matchup against the Blazers in which Young left the game early with a right quad contusion, Young wrapped up his summer in complete control. He scored 20+ points in three consecutive outings and averaged eight assists in those games as well. He also set a Hawks Summer League franchise record with 11 assists against the Knicks on July 7th. Acie Law is the only other Hawk since 2000 to record 9+ assists in a Summer League game, per Basketball-Reference.com.
The coaching staff came away impressed with Young’s maturity and preparedness. “Trae’s a sponge,” explained Summer League head coach Chris Jent. “He understands where he is as a player and where he wants to be. That learning is a part of the process. He’s been a joy to work with every day.”
John Collins is ready to take his next step out to the perimeter:
Collins wrapped up his summer averaging 19 points and 7.5 rebounds over four games. But perhaps even more impressive than the numbers was his diversified skill-set. In just four Summer League appearances between Utah and Vegas, Collins hit on six of 16 (37.5%) three-point attempts (including five of his last 10). Collins’ teammates certainly appreciate the added space he brings to the floor. As Young told Hawks.com, “John’s ability to shoot the ball and get to the rim makes my job easy.”
Tyler Dorsey, rebounding machine:
Atlanta’s second rounder from 2017 treated scouts to a rebounding exhibition in Vegas. At only 6’5 and 183 pounds, Dorsey isn’t the most imposing figure on the court. However, in five Summer League games, the 22-year-old averaged 7.6 boards.
“I don’t know what got into him yesterday,” Collins joked to the media after Dorsey’s 14 rebound performance against the Knicks. “He was definitely grabbing boards. I mean, if he can even grab half the boards like that during the season, it’ll definitely boost his stock.”
Dorsey also showed some strong touch from around the floor en route to a 17.6 scoring average for the summer. For Dorsey to crack the Hawks’ rotation, he’ll have to keep up his strong shooting. Over the five games in Utah and Vegas, Dorsey hit on 15-of-40 (37.5) three-point attempts.
Spellman finishes strong:
The third of the Hawks’ three first-round picks in 2018 Draft finished up his Summer League in Vegas on an encouraging note. Spellman scored in double-digits in his last three outings. His best game came in the Round of 16 against the Trail Blazers when he scored 20 points including three triples.
After a Freshman season at Villanova in which he hit 43.3% of his shots from the perimeter, the Hawks selected him envisioning a lineup of the future with shooters at every position. At 240+ pounds and a 7’2 wingspan, Spellman’s combination of skill, athleticism, and size should translate well at the NBA level. His explosiveness was on full display on the defensive glass, where Spellman grabbed an impressive 30.5% of the available defensive rebounds in Vegas, the highest rate for any player in the Summer League (per DraftExpress Blue).
Alpha Kaba developing nicely:
Alpha Kaba, the 60th overall pick in the 2017 Draft, started to show off his good hands and finishing ability at the end of the Summer League run. He shot 17-for-29 (58.6%) from the field overall and capped off his summer with a 14-point, 15-rebound performance against the Clippers in which he also compiled four blocks. He’s still only 22 years old and looks quicker and stronger than he did a summer ago.
All in all, Hawks fans have plenty to look forward to with this team. Backed by a rejuvenated roster that includes four first round picks (all of whom are 20 years old or younger), significant cap space, and a trove of future picks in hand, the Hawks are progressing the right way. There aren’t any shortcuts toward becoming a championship contender. But with Travis Schlenk leading the way, the Hawks seem to have found the right path.