It’s pretty rare that you see an entire fanbase overjoyed about a draft class as a whole in any sport, but Hawks fans everywhere were in agreement that Travis Schlenk got two steals in the 2021 NBA Draft without navigating the draft board at all. While the Hawks didn’t win the Summer League Championship, I think you could make the argument that they absolutely “won” Summer League. Their two biggest assets made a huge splash, as Jalen Johnson was named to the All Summer League First Team:
ICYMI: The 2021 All Summer League First-Team!
— NBA TV (@NBATV) August 19, 2021
Johnson finished as the fourth-highest scorer, ahead of first overall pick Cade Cunningham. What’s incredible about Johnson is that he isn’t a pure scorer, but he was incredibly efficient and showed some impressive chemistry with Sharife Cooper.
Rife ➡️ Jalen, get used to it pic.twitter.com/vw9CQTmhaR
— SportsTalkATL Jake (@cantguardjake) August 13, 2021
Johnson finished averaging 19.5 points and 9 rebounds per game while shooting 57.4% from the floor and 41.7% from three. The 20th overall pick had a few turnovers, but he flashed some incredible playmaking that could make him a dangerous combo forward if he continues to stay this efficient. The sky is the limit for this kid.
Johnson wasn’t the only Hawk recognized, as the NBA had Sharife Cooper as #1 on their countdown of the most clutch shots in the Summer League:
— NBA (@NBA) August 18, 2021
Cooper nailed a game-winning three over the Pacers, and his shooting overall was encouraging. Cooper is arguably one of the best playmakers in the class, but there were concerns about his sub-30% 3-point percentage at Auburn. Cooper quieted those doubts, for now, averaging 14.8 points and 7.3 assists while shooting 46.3% from the floor and 33% from three. He had a huge game against the Pacers before his buzzer-beater, canning 5 of his 8 triples.
Expectations for this group were already sky-high, and while I don’t think either will be All-NBA players from the jump, the Hawks have once again added high-quality depth and improved the roster without giving up any assets.