The Hawks weren’t able to capture their second win in a row on Wednesday night versus the Brooklyn Nets, but it wasn’t for lack of offense.
Led by rookie Cam Reddish, the Hawks made 53.3% of their field goals on their way to 118 points, including 71 of them in the second half. But every time they tried to cut the lead, Brooklyn came up with another bucket to answer. They scored 74 in the second half after jumping out to a nine-point advantage in the first half. This has become a trend for Atlanta, but it will be overshadowed by Reddish’s performance, who finally looked like a top ten pick.
The faltering rookie entered Wednesday, shooting 28.8% from the field and 21.2% from behind the arc, and it was more than just the stats. His confidence was non-existent as well, but finally, it all came together against the Nets. Reddish made 10 of his 17 field goals and 4 of his 7 three-point shots for 25 points to go along with his six rebounds and three steals. He’s shown promise on the defensive end, as well as a playmaker, but this is something Hawks fans have been yearning for, and it should make them feel better going forward.
Reddish isn’t going to continue to shoot like this all year. Eventually, he’s going to find his footing and start knocking down open shots. But in this game, it was his ability to finish around the rim that stood out. Several times he was able to use his long strides to glide towards the basket and fight through contact with some English. That’s the Cam Reddish the Hawks were hoping for when they took him tenth overall, and his development while several other regulars are nursing injuries is critical to Atlanta’s rebuild.
Even on his best day, though, Reddish wasn’t the leading scorer. That title belonged to Trae Young, who scored 39 points (13-23 from the field and 5-9 from three) and dished out ten assists. It’s becoming like clockwork for the second-year point guard, and these gaudy stat lines are no longer coming as a surprise. He might be the best guard in the Eastern Conference, and he’s only going to improve once better players fill in around him.
Damian Jones also put together the best performance of his season, making all eight of his shots, tallying 20 points and 8 rebounds. He has shown an ability to finish around the rim, but he still needs to rebound at a much higher rate for a player his size. Backup center, Alex Len, pitched in 18 points and 7 boards as well.
As a whole, it was a forgetful night for the Hawks, but when you’re amid a rebuild, you try and find the positives. Cam Reddish looked miles more confident tonight than he has all season, and in the long run, that is all we will remember if this type of play continues from him.