This is the fourth installment of the 2012-13 Atlanta Hawks player profiles, and up next is rookie forward Mike Scott. Scott was the Hawks second-round pick in this year’s NBA draft and was selected with the 43rd pick.
Scott spent the last five years playing for the Virginia Cavaliers (he was granted a fifth year of eligibility due to an ankle injury in his fourth season), and increased his scoring average every season, finishing with averages of 18 points and 8 rebounds last year. However, what really sticks out about Scott is his work-ethic and constant hustle while on the court. With the re-signing of Ivan Johnson and the presence of Zaza Pachulia, Scott could be another piece to add to the big man bench-mob who will ensure that the Hawks will never be out-hustled or out-muscled.
Scott was the focal point of Virginia’s offense last season, and it may take him some time to adjust to a much smaller role with the Hawks this year. However, his energy should serve him well even when his playing time is limited. Scott proved throughout his college career that he could knock down the mid-range jumper and rebound well despite his limited vertical leap. This offseason Scott also worked on his three-point shot, hoping to add another weapon to his offensive repertoire, which should allow the Hawks to spread the floor even more.
High Point Of The 2011-2012 Season- Scott ended last season playing perhaps the best basketball of his collegiate career. In his last regular season game, Scott scored a career-high 35 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in a 75-72 win over Maryland. He was seemingly unstoppable on offense, knocking down long jumpers and blowing past defenders with ease on his way to the basket. In addition to his 35 points, Scott also attempted a career-high 18 free throws in the win.
Scott ended up leading Virginia to a 22-10 record, and their first NCAA Tournament birth in five years. While they were blown out in their first-round game against the Florida Gators, none of the blame for the loss should be passed to Scott. He was the game’s leading scorer, recording 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting, while adding six rebounds and three steals. While it certainly wasn’t how Scott planned on ending his college career, his strong play in the loss helped to reinforce his draft-status as a mid-second round pick.
Low Point Of The 2011-2012 Season- Despite the best season of his career, Mike Scott was unable to secure the ACC Player Of the Year award, which ultimately went to Tyler Zeller of North Carolina. While the numbers were close; with Scott averaging two more points, and Zeller averaging one more rebound, Zeller received 45 POY votes compared to Scott’s 14. One factor that likely influenced the vote was North Carolina’s 2-0 record against Virginia last season, with Zeller outplaying Scott in their head-to-head matchups. The fact that coming in as runner-up in the ACC POY voting was Scott’s low point of last season only proves how stellar of a year he actually had.
3 Reasons Why Hawks Fans Should Be Happy-
1. The Hawks didn’t sell away all of their second-round picks this year, and more importantly they actually drafted a player who is ready to make an impact. Scott was the oldest player in the 2012 draft and as a result, brings a much more polished game than recent Hawks second round picks. Just looking at the last eight years of Hawks second rounders is enough to make you hate the draft. Keith Benson in 2011, Pape Sy in 2010, NOBODY in 2007-09, Solomon Jones in 2006, and both Salim Stoudamire and Cenk Akyol in 2005. If you really want to depress yourself, look back at those drafts and see some of names drafted after the Hawks picks. I advise you not to though, unless you have tissues around.
This year the Hawks decided to avoid European projects with chuckle-inducing names, and noodle-armed shot blockers, electing instead to draft a guy with two first names. As a result they may have found their first second round contributor in recent memory.
2. Sure he was the oldest player in the draft, but everybody seems to be making a bigger deal of his age than it really is. Scott (who is 24) won’t even be the Hawks oldest rookie in recent memory, as Ivan Johnson was 27 last year. While other teams may have been a little hesitant to draft Scott because of his age, this allowed him to fall to the Hawks with pick #43. This is perfect for the Hawks as they are asking him to be a contributor now and in the near future, not 15 years from now.
3. Scott’s age sits well with Hawks players as well; had they drafted a freshman out of college, who would they get to buy their drinks at the bar during rookie hazing? Drafting Scott was a smart move, and a win-win situation for everybody involved.
Strengths- Scott has a solid shot for a power forward and his range is only improving. He is a smart player who can position himself on the court in the best place for him to be successful. He is a good rebounder despite his below-average vertical leap, and fights non-stop on the glass. Scott is also a strong free throw shooter (75% career, 80% last season), and can draw fouls at a decent rate.
Weaknesses- As I mentioned, his leaping ability isn’t very good at all (bottom 5 in standing leap at the combine), and he is a little undersized for a power forward. His on-ball defense is also lacking, and he struggles guarding both larger power forwards and quicker small forwards. Though he does have quick hands which leads to steals, his size combined with his short vertical lead to very few blocked shots.
2012-13 Season Outlook- Scott will begin the season at the end of the depth chart, and will have to work hard in training camp and at the start of the season to prove that he deserves more playing time. The re-signing of Ivan Johnson creates a bit of a logjam at the power forward position, and minutes will be tough to come by. However if Scott’s outside jumper has improved as much as he says, he could be a valuable piece when the Hawks are looking for a scoring big man off the bench. It will be an uphill battle for Scott to see extended minutes, and his defense will need to improve if he has any hopes of cracking the rotation. The possibility of a Ivan/Scott/Zaza trio off the bench is intriguing to imagine though, and would definitely be one of the hardest working frontcourts that Hawks fans have ever seen.
2012-13 Projected Role- Scott’s role may change depending on Ivan Johnson’s production (and temper) this season. If Ivan is unable to duplicate last season’s effectiveness, or he murders someone, Scott’s minutes will increase. As it sits now, Scott will see time mostly when games are out of reach or the Hawks get into foul trouble. He won’t play every night, but this year should help the Hawks decide whether Scott is part of their long term plans.
2012-13 Projected Stats- Around 50 games played, over 50% shooting, and as many made three-pointers as Ivan Johnson has technical fouls.
Stay on the lookout for the rest of the 2012-13 Atlanta Hawks player profiles, as I will continue to go down the depth chart one by one until every player has been profiled. Below is my projected depth chart, though what the Hawks decide to do is anyone’s guess currently.
PG- Jeff Teague / Devin Harris
SG- Anthony Morrow / Louis Williams / John Jenkins
SF- Josh Smith / Kyle Korver / DeShawn Stevenson
PF- Al Horford / Ivan Johnson / Mike Scott
C- Zaza Pachulia / Johan Petro / Jordan Williams (Waived)
Up next is John Jenkins.