Atlanta Hawks: Summer League Roster, Key Storylines

Matt BoczarContributor IIIJuly 10, 2012

Atlanta Hawks: Summer League Roster, Key Storylines

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    Recently hired general manager Danny Ferry has quickly left his mark on the Atlanta Hawks roster.

    By agreeing to trade one of the team’s leading scorers from last season in Joe Johnson to the Brooklyn Nets, and former second overall draft choice Marvin Williams to the Utah Jazz, Ferry was able to shed approximately $90 million for the Hawks.

    These moves mean that the team will now have money to spend going forward, but roster spots are available for emerging players in the meantime.

    And with the team’s Summer League schedule set to begin this week, a number of young players will soon have the opportunity to earn their spot on the Hawks roster for the upcoming season.

    This year’s draft picks, John Jenkins and Mike Scott, lead a group of 15 rookie and second-year players looking to prove themselves in Las Vegas, Nevada this summer.

    Here is the Hawks Summer League roster and key storylines as the build up to the 2012-2013 season continues.

Atlanta Hawks' Summer League Schedule

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    (Note: All times Eastern)

    Atlanta Hawks vs. Washington Wizards
    Friday, July 13th, 4 P.M.

    Atlanta Hawks vs. San Antonio Spurs
    Sunday, July 15th, 8 P.M.

    Atlanta Hawks vs. Boston Celtics
    Monday, July 16th, 4 P.M.

    Atlanta Hawks vs. Dallas Mavericks
    Wednesday, July 18th, 8 P.M.

    Atlanta Hawks vs. Portland Trail Blazers
    Thursday, July 19th, 6 P.M.

Mike Scott, F, Virginia (2012 2nd Round Draft Pick, 43rd Overall)

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    Profile: 6’8”, 237 lbs.

    2011-2012 Game Stats: 18 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 30.0 3P%, 56.3 FG%, 80.8 FT%

    Key Storyline: Scott, the Hawks second round draft choice from the University of Virginia, finished as a First-Team All-ACC member last season.

    The senior finished second in the ACC in points and fifth in rebounds per game.  He also finished with the fourth-highest field goal percentage in the conference.  Scott left the Cavaliers ranked third on the team’s all-time list in rebounds and double-doubles.

    With Williams heading to the Jazz, the Hawks could utilize a player like Scott, a forward whose shooting range extends past the arc.  However, at nearly 24 years old, Scott will not have the generous allotment of time for a learning curve that younger players typically receive.

    Prediction: After slipping past the first round, the Hawks found a player in Scott who will compete for minutes off the bench in his rookie season.  But the soon-to-be 24-year-old needs to impress quickly.

Jeremy Hazell, G, Bakersfield Jam (NBDL), Lucentum Alicente (Spain)

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    Profile: 6’5”, 180 lbs.

    2011-2012 Game Stats: According to realgm.com: 10.6 points, 2.6 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 43.6 3P%, 42.9 FG%, 82.8 FT% in nine games with Bakersfield; 6.8 points, 40.0 3P%, 45.2 FG%, 83.3 FT% in six games with Lucentum Alicante.

    Key Storyline: Hazell finds himself spending part of the offseason with another NBA team, after going to training camp with the Phoenix Suns last season. 

    The 26-year-old joins the Hawks after splitting time between Europe and the NBDL last season, after enjoying a successful career at Seton Hall.  Hazell finished his career with the Pirates with over 2,000 career points and an 18.8 career scoring average.  His best season came during the 2008-2009 campaign, when he averaged 22.7 points and 3.8 rebounds per game, and had a 36.2 3P%, 42.7 FG% and 74.0 FT%.

    During his time with the Pirates, Hazell was named to the Big East All-Rookie Team, Big East Third Team (twice), Big East Second Team and Naismith Trophy Preseason Watch List. 

    By trading Johnson to the Nets, the Hawks are losing a player who tied for the team lead in points per game last season.  A solid Summer League could give Hazell a chance to add scoring depth to the team’s bench.

    Prediction: A rough 2011-2012 campaign means the odds are against Hazell.  However, Summer League performances that resemble his collegiate numbers will earn him a spot on the Hawks roster.

Pape Sy, G/F, BCM Gravelines (France)

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    Profile: 6’7”, 210 lbs.

    2011-2012 Game Stats: According to realgm.com: 8.1 points, 2.6 rebounds, 36.0 3P%, 41.3 FG%, 73.0 FT%

    Key Storyline: Sy returns to the team that drafted him in the second round of the 2010 draft.

    In his lone season with the Hawks, Sy averaged 2.3 points and 7.0 minutes in three games.  Since being drafted out of France, Sy has also spent time in the NBDL, where he averaged 8 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 23 games.

    Sy returned to France after being waived by the Hawks prior to last season.  His play overseas combined with a potential opening at small forward could create some intrigue, but the 24-year-old will need to show tremendous growth during the Summer League.

    Prediction: Sy will likely need to improve even more from his numbers in France last season in order to make the Hawks roster.  Unless his scoring continues to progress from multiple spots on the floor, Sy will play next season in Europe.

Brian Butch, C, Bakersfield Jam (NBDL)

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    Profile: 6’11”, 240 lbs.

    2011-2012 Game Stats: 15.3 points, 9.8 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 37.1 3P%, 42.9 FG%, 75.9 FT%

    Key Storyline: Butch continues to try and stick with an NBA team after previously training with the Denver Nuggets and New Orleans Hornets.  Thanks to a knee injury, however, he has yet to make his debut in the league.

    After averaging over 12 points and six rebounds per game in his final season at Wisconsin, Butch spent time in NBA training camps and the NBDL, where he has played in over 50 career games.  However, his best chance to make an opening night roster, if healthy, is with the Hawks this season.

    With only one other member of the Hawks Summer League roster over 6’10”, and the team needing another center to add depth to their bench, the timing is right for Butch and his rebounding ability to earn a roster spot.

    Prediction: If healthy, Butch will compete with Keith Benson for one of the final spots on the Hawks roster.  And his three-point shooting may give him an advantage.

John Jenkins, G, Vanderbilt (2012 1st Round Draft Pick, 23rd Overall)

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    Profile: 6’4”, 215 lbs.

    2011-2012 Game Stats: 19.9 points, 2.9 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 43.9 3P%, 47.4 FG%, 83.7 FT%

    Key Storyline: Jenkins’ selection at the end of the first round of last month’s draft helps the Hawks fill multiple needs.

    For one, the former Vanderbilt star will provide scoring depth to the team’s group of guards.  With Johnson headed to the Nets, Jeff Teague is the only Hawk guard who averaged double-digits in scoring last season.  Jenkins also has a chance to step in and become one of the team’s best three-point shooters.

    Even with the pending acquisition of Devin Harris, Jenkins should have an impact for the Hawks early on in his career.

    Prediction: After leading the SEC in scoring and finishing third in three-point field goal percentage last season, Jenkins will help fill the scoring void in the backcourt left by Johnson.

Paul Carter, F, Idaho Stampede (NBDL)

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    Profile: 6’8”, 203 lbs.

    2011-2012 Game Stats: 10.8 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 39.4 3P%, 47.7 FG%, 78.9 FT%.

    Key Storyline: After going to training camp with the Utah Jazz last season, the former UIC Flame is set to make another attempt at earning an NBA roster spot.

    Carter appeared in 34 games in the NBDL last season after averaging 14.7 points and eight rebounds per game during his final season at UIC.  That season saw him record 27 double-doubles while being named to the Horizon League All-Newcomer Team.

    Carter’s 47.7 FG% in the D-League last season has earned him a spot on the Hawks Summer League roster, but the 24-year-old will need to outshine other shooters and play exceptionally well in one area rather than simply being solid across the board.  The Hawks roster can use depth, but finding a unique role could be Carter’s best chance.

    Prediction: Carter will spend this season in the D-League to continue improving and receive another shot at making an NBA roster.

John Shurna, F, Northwestern (Undrafted Free Agent)

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    Profile: 6’9”, 215 lbs.

    2011-2012 Game Stats: 20.0 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.6 blocks, 44.0 3P%, 46.3 FG%, 75.3 FT%

    Key Storyline: Shurna joins the Hawks Summer League roster after a sensational career at Northwestern.

    The senior left the Wildcats as the school’s all-time leader in scoring, blocks and games played, second all-time in field goals and third all-time in three-point field goals.  Shurna also ranks in the top-10 all-time in free throws and assists.

    Shurna led the Big Ten in scoring last season and finished in the top-5 in blocks per game.  However, at nearly 220 pounds, he will need to add strength in order to stick on the Hawks roster.  A solid shooting stroke throughout the Summer League schedule could give him a chance.

    Prediction: Shurna will fight to win one of the Hawks final roster spots.  If he proves that his scoring will continue in the NBA, he’ll be a surprise roster addition.

Derrick Caracter, C, Los Angeles Lakers/NBDL

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    Profile: 6’9”, 275 lbs.

    2011-2012 Game Stats: 12.2 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.1 assist, 59.4 FG%, 52.1 FT%

    Key Storyline: Caracter bounced around quite a bit last season.  After being released by the Los Angeles Lakers, Caracter went on to sign with a team in Puerto Rico.  He also appeared in at least four games with three different teams in the D-League.

    Caracter did not appear in an NBA game last season, but averaged two points in 5.2 minutes in 41 games during the 2010-2011 season.  His NBA career thus far has nowhere near resembled his lone season at UTEP, when he averaged nearly 14 points and eight rebounds per game.

    If Caracter can put up the rebounding numbers in the Summer League that he did while in college, he would fit a need of the Hawks heading into this season.  However, at this point, that’s a big “if.”

    Prediction: Caracter plays in the D-League this season while awaiting another opportunity in the NBA.

Jerry Smith, G, Springfield Armor (NBDL), New Jersey Nets

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    Profile: 6’2”, 190 lbs.

    2011-2012 Game Stats: 19.1 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 2.1 steals, 36.5 3P%, 43.9 FG%, 80.7 FT%

    Key Storyline: Smith has an interesting case for making the Hawks roster.

    As his stats from the D-League last season show, Smith is a solid shooter who could provide depth off the bench.  His performances last season earned him a spot in the D-League’s All-Star game, where he scored 14 points, brought down five rebounds and had six assists.

    Smith appeared in five games for the then-New Jersey Nets, as well.

    If Smith continues with his high-scoring performances of last season and improves on his shot from behind the arc, he’ll make for an interesting candidate for the Hawks roster.

    Prediction: If Smith can out-perform Hazell and Shurna, he’ll be in the NBA once again this season.

Elijah Millsap, G, Los Angeles D-Fenders (NBDL)

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    Profile: 6’6”, 215 lbs.

    2011-2012 Game Stats: 19.4 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.9 steals, 39.8 3P%, 44.7 FG%, 76.8 FT%

    Key Storyline: Millsap is another player whose D-League performances earned him a spot in the league’s All-Star game last season.

    Elijah, whose brother is Paul Millsap of the Utah Jazz, has previously been invited to an NBA training camp, by the Oklahoma City Thunder.  Millsap was selected to the All-Conference USA team while playing for UAB, but went undrafted.

    Millsap has had two solid seasons in the D-League, but has yet to appear in an NBA game.  His numbers closely resemble fellow D-League All-Star Jerry Smith, which means an improved three-point field goal percentage in the Summer League will be key for him to make the Hawks roster.

    Prediction: With numerous similar players on the Summer League roster, Millsap will head to the D-League before having his contract selected by an NBA team.

Frank Hassell, F, Canton Charge (NBDL)

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    Profile: 6’9”, 255 lbs.

    2011-2012 Game Stats: 10.6 points, 6.9 rebounds, 54.8 FG%, 83.5 FT%

    Key Storyline: Hassell’s successful senior season at Old Dominion has yet to propel him into NBA game action.

    The former First-Team All-Colonial Athletic Association member went into training camp with the San Antonio Spurs, and played in the Turkish Basketball league before joining the Canton Charge of the D-League.

    After averaging 15 points and nine rebounds as a senior at Old Dominion, Hassell saw his averages dip in his first season in the D-League.

    The Hawks have a need at the small forward position, but unless Hassell can extend his shooting range to behind the arc, more versatility may be preferred.

    Prediction: Hassell will continue to work on his game in the D-League this season.

Jordan Taylor, G, Wisconsin (Undrafted Free Agent)

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    Profile: 6’1”, 195 lbs.

    2011-2012 Game Stats: 14.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 36.9 3P%, 40.2 FG%, 78.5 FT%

    Key Storyline: The All-American from Wisconsin went undrafted last month despite finishing in the top-15 in the Big Ten in scoring last season.

    Taylor left the Badgers ranked seventh all-time in points and three-pointers made, and second in assists.  His nearly four assists per game last season put him in the top-10 in the conference, as well.

    Taylor’s spot on the Hawks roster could be determined by whether or not Devin Harris remains with the team, and how well John Jenkins performs in the Summer League.  Regardless, Taylor’s ability at the point could make him an intriguing option in the future.

    Prediction: Taylor’s scoring ability helps him grab one of the Hawks final roster spots.

Delroy James, F, Tulsa 66ers (NBDL)

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    Profile: 6’8”, 225 lbs.

    2011-2012 Game Stats: 8.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 25.0 3P%, 43.1 FG%, 71.0 FT%

    Key Storyline: James has gone from playing at the University of Rhode Island, to playing in Israel, to finishing up last season with the Tulsa 66ers of the D-League.

    James finished second on Rhode Island’s 2009-2010 squad in scoring, rebounding and steals.  He then played in 10 games for a team in Israel, where he averaged nearly 16 points and seven rebounds per game.  However, his final game in the D-League last season saw him go for 18 points and 11 boards in 27 minutes.

    James will find himself among many similar small forward-type players on the Hawks Summer League roster.  Unless he can increase his scoring, especially from three-point range, he’ll have a difficult time separating himself.

    Prediction: James returns to the D-League for a full season to continue improving his game.

Brad Wanamaker, G, Austin Toros (NBDL)

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    Profile: 6’4”, 210 lbs.

    2011-2012 Game Stats: 5.5 points, 2.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 46.4 FG%, 86.4 FT%

    Key Storyline: The former Pittsburgh star is in his second stint with the Hawks after going to training camp with the team last season.

    After being released by the Hawks, Wanamaker played in Italy before joining the eventual D-League champions, the Austin Toros.  Wanamaker only started two regular season games for Austin, but started all three games in the Finals, while watching his numbers increase to 11.7 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game.

    However, the Hawks Summer League roster features multiple players who fill a similar role as Wanamaker, and whose shooting ranges extend beyond the arc.

    Prediction: More time in the D-League will help Wanamaker continue to improve his game.

Keith Benson, F/C, Sioux Falls Skyforce (NBDL), Golden State Warriors

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    Profile: 6’11”, 230 lbs.

    2011-2012 Game Stats: 15.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, 50.2 FG%, 68.2 FT% in 20 games in the NBDL.

    Key Storyline: Benson reached the NBA level with the Golden State Warriors last season, appearing in three games.  However, after averaging a double-double for his final two years in college, Benson’s potential could have him playing in many more NBA games.

    Benson will be competing to grab a reserve frontcourt spot on the Hawks roster.  The 23-year-old was originally drafted by the Hawks in the second round, but was released prior to last season.

    With his size and potential rebounding ability, Benson fits a need of the Hawks as Summer League action gets underway.

    Prediction: A strong Summer League showing could earn him a spot on the Hawks roster.

Key Storyline for Entire Summer League Roster

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    With the recent trades by Ferry, the Hawks roster will have a different look compared to last season.  But what matters more for those players on the team’s Summer League roster is the number of openings on the roster. 

    Trading Johnson and Williams does not only free up salary cap room, but also creates an opening for a scorer and three-point shooter in the backcourt, and size and rebounding ability in the post.

    Unfortunately, the Hawks Summer League roster features a number of players whose skill sets resemble each other.  With only five games to impress the coaching staff, players such as Butch, Hazell, Smith, Shurna, Taylor and Benson will have limited opportunity to earn a roster spot, while separating themselves from the rest of the roster.

    A number of expiring contracts can also lead to future opportunities for these players, meaning that a strong showing may not earn them a roster spot for the beginning of the season, but can keep them on the Hawks radar should a roster spot become available.

    Separating oneself from the rest of the pact will be key for earning a roster spot, while being able to provide a unique skill set to a new-look roster will also be crucial.