The Atlanta Hawks have surely had their eye trained on a few specific players throughout the Las Vegas Summer League. However, there are a couple of young prospects whose play has stood out more than others, bringing their future outlook with the team into full focus as the summer wears on.
As a preface, make no mistake that players like 24-year-old forward Brady Manek, 23-year-old guard Seth Lundy and 23-year-old forward Miles Norris have shown what they can do from beyond the arc, with all of them likely bound to play more than a handful of games with the College Park Skyhawks.
To that point, while both Lundy and Norris have already signed two-way contracts with the Hawks, Manek’s shooting ability may be great enough to earn him the third and final two-way spot.
Still, the focus of the Hawks’ Summer League comes down to two players, specifically: rookie guard Kobe Bufkin and rookie big man Mouhamed Gueye.
Biggest things Hawks learned from Summer League
Kobe Bufkin can challenge Patty Mills
Averaging 13.0 points and 4.3 assists in 28.0 minutes per game while shooting 31.6 percent from the field and 21.4 percent from 3, Atlanta Hawks rookie guard Kobe Bufkin has flashed his potential with high-level passes, tough defense and even tougher shots during the 2023 NBA Summer League.
His most recent game was his most impressive, as the Michigan native made multiple clutch plays to bring the Hawks to victory, including nailing the game-winner.
No. 15 pick Kobe Bufkin iced Atlanta’s 3rd Summer League victory with several clutch plays down the stretch, including the game-winning bucket on a crafty drive and delayed gather finish. The 6’5”, 19-year-old finished with 14 points and 7 assists in the 99-98 win. pic.twitter.com/Fo5cKimF5u
— League Him (@League_Him) July 14, 2023
Although the Hawks traded for veteran guard Patty Mills, a player that’s notably a career 38.9 percent 3-point shooter, Bufkin has a blend of two-way upside, playmaking potential and size that the Aussie simply doesn’t possess.
Bufkin will need to tighten up from behind the arc in order to secure his spot in the rotation, and through training camp and preseason he’ll have plenty of opportunities to show the coaching staff his strides in that area. With that said, Bufkin was a 32.5 percent shooter from 3-point range in two seasons at Michigan, so expecting a dramatic and immediate improvement may be unrealistic.
However, if two-way playmaking trumps all for Hawks head coach Quin Snyder, Bufkin could be in regardless.
Mo Gueye can really play
Atlanta Hawks rookie big man Mouhamed Gueye has been outstanding during the 2023 Las Vegas Summer League, showing off his on-ball and off-ball scoring potential as well as the ability to impact the game in multiple ways defensively. Averaging 10.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.3 blocks per game while shooting 41.7 percent from 3, Gueye not only looked good on the court but had the numbers to back it up as well.
— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) July 9, 2023
Although the talent level in Summer League is a couple of tiers below what players can expect in the regular season, what Gueye has shown up to this point is enough to put him in serious consideration for a rotation spot as a rookie. Especially because, after trading John Collins to the Utah Jazz, the Atlanta Hawks don’t have a power forward rotation that’s set in stone.
What separates the 6-foot-11- and 210-pound Gueye from his positional competition could be his combination of height and efficiency from 3-point range, as the only forward in the Hawks’ rotation to shoot above 35 percent from 3 last season was 6-foot-7 Saddiq Bey.
Subsequently, the wider NBA world may need to pay greater attention to Gueye, because the Senegal native can really play.
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