Atlanta Hawks: Difficult Decisions Loom After Early Summer League Exit

By A.J. Speier
Mike Scott
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

With the Atlanta Hawks wrapping up their NBA Summer League early with a 1-4 record, the Hawks face some difficult decisions with non-guaranteed players DeShawn StevensonShelvin Mack and Mike Scott and their two unsigned draft picks Lucas Noguiera and Mike Muscala.

When the Hawks officially sign DeMarre Carroll, the Hawks will have 10 guaranteed roster spots filled and will need to decide whether they believe they’ll be able to contend for a championship this season.

If the Hawks decide to hold on to Stevenson, Mack, Scott, Nogueira and Muscala, the Hawks would have their 15-man roster set, but it would be a young team. The average age of players on the team would be 25.5 and 40% of the roster would contain draft picks from the last two seasons.

Assuming the Hawks don’t intend to give big roles to rookies Dennis Schroeder, Nogueira and Muscala this season, the roster doesn’t appear to have improved that much. Offseason acquisitions Paul MillsapElton BrandJared Cunningham and Carroll would essentially be replacing Josh SmithZaza PachuliaDevin Harris and Ivan Johnson.

In order for the Hawks to compete with the top Eastern Conference teams like the Miami HeatBrooklyn NetsIndiana PacersChicago Bulls and New York Knicks, the Hawks need to add more experience and get more production from their younger players

Both Scott and John Jenkins appear ready to have their roles expanded this season after a strong Summer League performance. Scott averaged team-highs this summer with 18.6 points and 6.2 rebounds, while Jenkins was second in scoring with an average of 18 points.

All three rookies had their moments during Summer League, but Schroeder figures to have the biggest impact this season. Schroeder displayed playmaking ability this summer and did a great job pick-pocketing opposing point guards.

As for Noguiera and Muscala, both players need to work on their post play and free throw shooting. (Muscala shot 42.9 percent and Noguiera shot 28.6 percent). Noguiera has a future as a shot-blocker, but needs to bulk before he can start receiving significant minutes. Muscala’s future will depend on whether the Hawks think they can get a better big through free agency.

While Schroeder figures to be the primary backup to Jeff Teague, Mack could be brought back to be the third point guard. Mack shot 42.3 percent from 3-point range and averaged 7.6 points and 2.4 rebounds in 17.4 minutes per game during Summer League.

Even though Stevenson didn’t play in the Summer League, he is the most likely player to be let go because he is owed $2.24 million this season and the Hawks want to add another player on the wing who can shoot 3-pointers.

Follow A.J. Speier on Twitter @Ajbisons for articles, news, and all things NBA

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