During the third quarter of the Magic vs. Hawks game on Wednesday evening, Bob Rathbun and Dominique Wilkins brought Travis Schlenk on the broadcast to discuss the current state of the Hawks. On top of providing some hilarious and blunt play-by-play commentary, Schlenk also offered some praise for rookie big man Bruno Fernando.
Schlenk mentioned the considerable discrepancy in the team’s defense when Fernando is on and off the court, and the numbers do not lie. As a team, the Hawks rank 28th in net rating (-8.0) and defensive rating (114.2). When Fernando is on the floor, the Hawks have a net rating of -3.4 and a defensive rating of 105.9. For measure, as a team, this would be tied as the third-best defensive rating in the NBA if he were on the court at all times.
Perhaps these sorts of defensive splits are a big reason why the Hawks general manager decided to bring in a rim protector like Clint Capela, and this might shine some light on the difference he could make next season.
Fernando is expected to see a smaller role when Capela returns, but it seems the Hawks still see him as a part of their future success if Schlenk’s comments are any indicator.
Schlenk did mention that Fernando has room for improvement on the offensive end, but that with his size and defensive presence he has a bright future. Fernando was never a volume scorer at Maryland. However, he was a man amongst boys who could score when called upon and shot for a decent mark from outside. We have seen him start to chuck up some more three-balls, and while he has not exactly been efficient, if he can add this to his arsenal, it would make him more valuable on top of his presence in the paint. As the season has gone on, we have seen him play with more confidence at the offensive end, so hopefully, that will continue.
At the very least, Fernando has the makings of a quality back up big man in the NBA, which would provide a decent value where the Hawks drafted him at 34th overall.