Takeways from the Hawks first Summer League game

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This NBA offseason has been so fun. It feels like the season just ended, and we’ve already had the NBA Draft, free agency, and now Summer League has arrived for the Hawks, providing our first opportunity to watch Sharife Cooper and Jalen Johnson — Atlanta’s two draft selections — as pros. It’s only Summer League, and it’s just one game. If you remember, Trae Young‘s debut as a pro didn’t exactly go as he planned.

I’m not sure, but I think he turned out just fine. Still, here are a few things I noticed from the Hawks first Summer League game.

Jalen Johnson and Sharife Cooper looked the part

Many draft analysts praised Travis Schlenk for snagging Jalen Johnson in the first round and Sharife Cooper in the second. I saw several people mock both players to go inside the top 20, so on paper, these are two A+ selections. Add in Schlenk’s track record since becoming GM of the Hawks, and it’s fair to expect a lot from both Johnson and Cooper as they develop into NBA players. Well, they looked the part on Sunday.

Johnson was the best player on the floor, recording a double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds in just 25 minutes. He made one of his two three-pointers, showed off a nice mid-range game, and his bouncy athleticism flashed throughout. If this is a sign of things to come, I expect him to get a good amount of minutes this season.

Cooper had a much slower start than Johnson, but it’s easy to see why some might compare him to Trae Young. They are the same size, both were drafted by the Hawks, and their playmaking is top notch. Cooper finished with six assists. However, if he wants to have a fraction of the success that Young has had so far in his career, he has to develop a more consistent jump shot. He shot a miserable 22.8% from three in college and struggled with his shot in his first professional appearance. There’s a lot for the Hawks to work with in Cooper, but that’s an area he must improve.

Skylar Mays can be an NBA player

Skylar Mays didn’t have his best shooting performance, making just one of his six three-point attempts. Still, he finished with 13 points and was one of the best players on the floor throughout the game. As an LSU grad, I got a first-hand glance to watch Mays throughout his college career. I was thrilled when the Hawks selected him in the second round last year, and I liked what I saw out of him as a rookie when he was forced into action. I don’t know if it will be with the Hawks because of how much depth they have on the wing, but Mays will eventually carve out a role for himself in the NBA.



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