When the Hawks open play in the Las Vegas Summer League Friday night there will be several things to watch from the group of 15 players who will participate in the tournament.
Here are five:
- Tavares and Patterson return
Second-round draft picks Edy Tavares and Lamar Patterson will both play after spending last season overseas.
Tavares, the 7-foot-3 center, is intriguing. He signed a contract with the Hawks last week after turning down lucrative offers to remain in Europe and will come to training camp. Playing 57 games for Gran Canaria in Spain’s ACB League and the Eurocup, Tavares averaged 8.3 points, 7.9 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in 22.1 minutes. He shot 63.5 percent (197 of 310) from two-point range. It will be interesting to see how the 23-year old competes against this level of competition and how NBA-ready he may be.
Patterson, the 6-5 guard/forward, spent last season playing for Tofas Bursa in Turkey. In 29 games, he averaged 11.2 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 28.0 minutes. He shot 50 percent for the field, including 35.3 percent from 3-point range. Patterson has been working out in Atlanta and is down to 218 pounds, something the Hawks set as a goal in his season abroad. The Hawks may well have a roster spot for a wing player next season.
- Muscala back
Mike Muscala will play a third year in summer league – something not required of the forward/center. Muscala has showed continue improvement in his two seasons with the Hawks after being a second-round pick. He appeared in 40 games last season and averaged 4.9 points and 3.0 rebounds in 12.6 minutes. He has improved his 3-point shooting and made a huge long-range basket in the playoff series against the Wizards.
Muscala figures to have a bigger role this year with the departures of Elton Brand and Pero Antic. With the Hawks adding Tiago Splitter and Tavares, summer league could be a chance for Muscala to play more power forward and provide depth behind Paul Millsap.
- Smith worth a look
The Hawks have brought Greg Smith, a veteran of four NBA seasons, to Las Vegas. The 6-10 power forward played three seasons with the Rockets and last season with the Mavericks. In 42 games last year, Smith averaged 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds. The 24-year old may still have undeveloped potential that makes him worth a longer look a position the Hawks could use some depth. Arizona’s Brandon Ashley is another player to watch here.
- On the wing
The Hawks will use summer league to get a look at several others who may compete for a job on the wing. Nebraska’s Terran Petteway is a player the Hawks like a lot. The 6-6 guard/forward went undrafted after averaging 18.1 points and 4.8 rebounds last season as a junior. Including in the group is guard Stephen Holt, who played with the Hawks’ summer league entry last season and impressed. He ended up playing in the NBA Development League for Canton. Josh Davis, who was with the Spurs organization, will also play.
- Brother watch
The Hawks invited Jon Horford, brother of center Al Horford, and Abraham Millsap, brother of forward Paul Millsap, to summer league. Horford went undrafted out of Florida. Millsap played for the Hawks’ entry last season. Both are long shots but it will be fun to watch how they play and where the next step of their career takes them.
Friday: Hawks vs. Nuggets, 8 p.m., Cox Pavilion
Sunday: Hawks vs. Warriors, 8:30 p.m., Thomas and Mack Center
Monday: Hawks vs. D-League, 6 p.m., Cox Pavilion.
The seeded portion of the tournament begins July 15
All times are Eastern