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Key Storylines for Atlanta Hawks' Summer League Team

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Key Storylines for Atlanta Hawks' Summer League Team
Atlanta Hawks' rookie point guard Dennis Schröder is showcasing his talent in the Las Vegas Summer League.

The Atlanta Hawks roster is finally taking shape as the NBA Las Vegas Summer League gets under way.

The Hawks played their first summer league game on Friday night against the Los Angeles Clippers, and all of their new faces were on display.

We’ll break down the biggest names hitting the court for Atlanta in Vegas and highlight which players may have a legitimate shot at making the Hawks roster for the 2013-14 NBA season.

 

Atlanta Hawks’ 2013 Rookies Take the Court

Dennis Schröder, who signed his rookie contract on Thursday, was a known commodity coming into the summer league. Big man Mike Muscala was also expected in Las Vegas.

The big surprise?

Lucas Nogueira, who was announced for the Hawks summer league roster just hours before their first game, made his Atlanta debut.

The 7-footer was able to use his length to alter shots while getting 10 points, eight boards and one block. He was also on the receiving end of a couple of alley-oop passes.

His lack of mass, however, was on display for all to see. The Clippers’ shorter big men, like Samardo Samuels, were able to find some low post success against him by throwing their weight around.

Schröder played a decent game, shooting 50 percent from three—hitting two from beyond the arc—for his six points while racking up seven assists. He demonstrated his potential as a true point guard, running the pick-and-roll effectively.

However, for all his potential, Schröder seemed to have issues playing on-the-ball defense. He’ll need to work hard to correct that before he has to guard veteran NBA point guards in the fall.

Muscala scored 11 points on an efficient 5-of-8 shooting and tallied six rebounds. He showed his range, hitting shots from as far out as 18 feet—one of the big reasons that he may find himself on the Hawks 2013-14 roster.

 

Hawks’ Veterans Show Their Leadership

Nick Laham/Getty Images
Third-year point guard Shelvin Mack and second-year shooting guard John Jenkins asserted themselves as leaders on the court for Atlanta.

Jenkins, who started the game, did a little bit of everything. He was the only Hawks player to take double-digit shots from the field, shooting 11-of-23—2-of-5 from distance—for 24 points. He grabbed six boards and one steal and even got a block on Samardo Samuels with timely help defense.

Mack played the role of floor general well with the second unit, running exceptionally with or without the ball. In only 19 minutes of action, he scored 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting, a perfect 1-of-1 from deep and 2-of-2 from the free-throw line. He also grabbed four rebounds and dished out six assists.

Second-year forward Mike Scott started the game and made an impressive 4-of-4 from the field for eight points in just over 12 minutes of play. Unfortunately, he did little else. He managed only two rebounds and one assist while making no impact on defense.

Scott joined John Millsap (Atlanta’s new power forward, Paul Millsap’s older brother) as the only Hawks players with a negative plus-minus statistic in the double digits.

 

Making the 2013-14 Atlanta Hawks Roster

So, who’s going to make the Hawks regular-season roster?

Now that Atlanta has matched the Milwaukee Bucks’ offer for restricted free agent Jeff Teague, the roster holds 12 players.

The roster includes Teague, Lou Williams, Kyle Korver, Paul Millsap, Al Horford, John Jenkins, Mike Scott, Shelvin Mack, DeShawn Stevenson, Jared Cunningham, DeMarre Carroll and rookie point guard Dennis Schröder.

Unless general manager Danny Ferry and coach Mike Budenholzer decide to cut someone, that leaves three open roster spots to be filled.

Expect second-round pick Mike Muscala to fill one of those spots.

The Hawks can still re-sign forwards Anthony Tolliver and Ivan Johnson with the other two spots, if they so desire.

Do not discount the possibility that Lucas Nogueira impresses well enough to make the roster. He would definitely benefit from another year of further development and the opportunity to add some muscle weight to his frame. However, he still has the chance to prove that his skills are worth the immediate roster reward.

Hawks GM Danny Ferry recently addressed Nogueira’s future with the team in an interview with The Opening Drive on Atlanta sports radio station 92.9 The Game.

Now, we have not made a determination as to whether or not we will have him on our roster next year or we’ll wait another year or two. But, we’ll use this time, now, to assess that as we look at our roster and how he can fit in.

Another possibility for the 2013-14 roster is Boban Marjanovic, a 7’3” center from Serbia who recently lost as much as 50 pounds to improve his ability to move up and down the court.

Marjanovic managed four points, three rebounds, one assist and two blocks in only eight-and-a-half minutes of action on Friday. While he lacks natural speed and athleticism, he makes up for it with size and skill.

Assuming he is able to get out of his recently signed contract with the Red Star Belgrade, the Serbian center could provide quality depth to the Hawks’ low post position.

Kyle Weems, a 6’6” small forward who scored five points and grabbed six rebounds in nearly 20 minutes of action against the Clippers, could also be a possibility. He played with a lot of energy. Going forward, he could do more to impress if he continues to shoot with confidence and attack the boards.

 

Prediction

As much as their size would provide much needed depth to the Hawks’ undersized roster, both Nogueira and Marjanovic will most likely play overseas for at least this year. If they continue to make necessary improvements—whether it be gaining weight or losing it—Ferry might be more inclined to help them pursue buyouts.

For now, Atlanta will likely fill out the roster by signing Muscala and re-signing Tolliver, leaving one spot open.

The final roster position could be left open to add Nogueira later, or it could be used to sign a quality player from another summer league team.

 

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