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  1. Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images Each August, John Schuhmann of NBA.com catches up with members of the incoming rookie class and puts together a survey from the results. The 2019-20 version dropped on Monday and, as you may expect, members of the Atlanta Hawks’ NBA Draft class were featured. No. 10 overall pick Cam Reddish garnered the most attention, including one exceedingly notable honor. For background, 42 members of the rookie class spoke to NBA.com in answering seven questions about members of their incoming draft class, and Reddish landed in a tie for third place when his classmates were prompted about the 2019-20 Rookie of the Year. Reddish garnered just five percent of the vote, knotted with college teammate R.J. Barrett, and that placed him behind Zion Williamson and Ja Morant in the pecking order. With that said, De’Andre Hunter did not receive any votes in the Rookie of the Year category, which is somewhat surprising given the draft-day placement of the two players. From there, Reddish actually came in at No. 1 overall when the 2019 draft class was asked the question of “which rookie will have the best career?” and he grabbed 19 percent of the vote. Hunter also garnered recognition in the same category, coming in third at 11 percent, and it was a bit of a shock to see both ahead of Williamson. Hunter enters the league with a high-end reputation as a defensive player and that was backed up by the opinion of his fellow draftees. The former Virginia standout came in second in voting for “best defender,” trailing only Matisse Thybulle, and second-round pick Bruno Fernando received at least one vote in the same category. Wrapping things up, Reddish received at least one vote for “steal” of the draft and, overall, the Hawks were well represented. In the grand scheme, this is only one poll of players who haven’t played in an NBA game yet but, on the whole, Atlanta’s first-year trio was recognized in a positive light and that’s not a bad thing. Stay tuned. View the full article
  2. Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports Part two arrives. In the doldrums of summer, the Peachtree Hoops staff came together for a 10-part roundtable series, answering a series of prompts with an eye toward the upcoming season for the Atlanta Hawks. Part two focuses on the immediate future of fourth-year wing DeAndre’ Bembry. Jeff Siegel: Unfortunately, it seems his role may be on the outside looking in most nights, particularly if the Hawks fully commit to Evan Turner as backup point guard. Playing the two of them together is going to be untenable offensively, particularly if Jabari Parker is on the floor as well in reserve units. Surrounding Turner with capable shooters like Kevin Huerter and Allen Crabbe makes more sense than Bembry. There is a rotation in which Bembry plays minutes next to Trae Young with the starters, particularly at the end of the first and third quarters if Lloyd Pierce wants to get Huerter in with Turner to start the second and fourth, but those 10 or 12 minutes a game might be the ceiling on the minutes Bembry consistently plays this season Graham Chapple: In my opinion, Bembry should the primary back-up wing -- the first wing off of the bench, the one who comes in should someone be in foul trouble. I’m sure there’ll be a few who think rookie Cam Reddish should be that man -- and that may, though, unlikely, happen at some point -- but it shouldn’t be the case this soon. This is a big year for Bembry, who will be a restricted free agent next summer should the Hawks elect not to sign him to an extension. He has shown himself capable during Lloyd Pierce’s first season as head coach and Pierce’s defensive trust in him was evident -- Pierce might be in need of defensive bodies and Bembry is a proven one for Pierce. Rashad Milligan: I’m going to roll with Greg on this one (see below) and say put him in the backcourt backup role with Evan Turner. Bembry’s very versatile one through three, but I really like him at the backup two behind Kevin Huerter. Zach Hood: I will disagree with Greg and Rashad, I do not think playing Bembry and Turner together is ideal. The lack of shooting in that backcourt could create immense spacing issues even with three shooters on the floor. It seems minutes may be difficult to come by for Bembry initially, I’d probably have him slated as the third point guard (behind Turner), as well as additional rotation wing to throw out there in the right match-up. I don’t view this season as a big “let’s see what we have in Bembry” season for the Hawks. I think his role in the NBA is somewhat defined at this point; handle the ball and move without the ball on offense, play hard, aggressive defense and provide energy off of the bench when his number is called. I think that’s how Bembry helps the Hawks in 2019-20, and I think that’s how he stays in the NBA going forward. Toby Adeyemi: Bembry is an interesting player for me. He plays harder than anybody on the court and has games from time to time where he shows he could be a significant player for the Hawks. He’s shown the ability to be a possible Draymond Green type of player for the Hawks (obviously at a different position), but can he be that? I don’t think so, and he would need to up his production big-time including his 1.9 assist average. He’ll be in a crowded wing group with the young rookies and Vince Carter returning, but I feel unless he can become a lot more impactful in a hurry, give those minutes to the rookies. Sam Meredith: Bembry is one of those players that I think championship teams need. He can play three positions and has shown in his career that he can play lock down defense against some of the best guards in the game. Bembry also is really good at forcing his way into the lane and has a high enough IQ to make simple skip passes as to not clog up the offense when he’s on the floor. Bembry isn’t a starter, but I liken him to the Andre Iguodala role where he can do whatever Lloyd Pierce needs him to do. I would like to see him develop his shooting a bit more. Matt Harris: I agree most with Glen. I like him best on the wing, but he’s going to have to prove he deserves minutes. He hasn’t been a great shooter thus far in his career and it’s tough for non-shooting wings to play major minutes on a squad like Atlanta that has a young team and a few guys who will need minutes to show what they have (Hunter, Reddish, etc.) Glen Willis: To start the season, Bembry should be the first wing off of the bench if he’s not part of the starting unit. By mid-December, the Hawks should be able to assess how much of a step forward he has taken since last season. If he’s not playing well enough to play ahead of most of all the wings acquired during the offseason, he’s probably not good enough to project being on the team past this season. If that’s the case, Bembry’s playing time should not be a priority over the second half of the season. If he’s become a more consistent shooter and finisher at the rim, he could be good enough to project being a useful role player on the next Hawks’ playoff team. Andrew Kelly: Bembry is in a difficult position. Following the departure of Kent Bazemore, Bembry enters the season as perhaps the team’s best perimeter defender. He made a tremendous improvement in his third season, playing in every game and posting career highs in true shooting percentage and box plus/minus. However, the addition of Evan Turner throws his role into question, as they have overlapping weaknesses behind the arc. In order to maximize his playing time, Bembry will need to carve out a role as a defensive specialist. On nights when the Hawks face a dynamic lead guard, i.e. James Harden, Bembry could see increased minutes as Atlanta’s best guard stopper. Furthermore, Bembry appeared to earn Lloyd Pierce’s trust last season. Often, a coach will not so easily relinquish a trusted player, even if the broader situation isn’t ideal. Dylan Hughes: To start the year, it’s probably best for Bembry to ride the pine while Allen Crabbe and Cam Reddish fill in the reserve wing roles behind Kevin Huerter and De’Andre Hunter. Bembry is a player every team in the league needs — a low-maintenance, high-effort player that everyone is happy to see succeed. The reality of these types of players, though, is that the smart teams use them sparingly while the dumb teams overplay them to the point where it hurts the team. Yes — Bembry makes plays on defense and throws down some fun dunks. But last season, his shooting splits left something to be desired at .446/.289/.640. In certain situations, you definitely want Bembry’s high-intensity on the floor over Crabbe or Reddish. But on a consistent basis, it should be those two on the floor over Bembry. Greg Willis: Playing off the bench in the backcourt with Evan Turner makes the most sense. This should be a make or break year for Bembry as he approaches restricted free agency next summer. Playing him behind players on expiring contracts limits his opportunity to prove his value going forward. If he finds himself deep on the bench as the season progresses, it is an indication the Hawks’ front office has already made the decision that looms at the end of the season. Brad Rowland: This one is tricky. Clearly, Kevin Huerter and De’Andre Hunter are going to be ahead of Bembry in the pecking order, with Huerter already a better player and Hunter as a significantly higher priority. Then, you pit Bembry against Allen Crabbe and Cam Reddish (with the potential for others like Chandler Parsons, Vince Carter or Evan Turner) for playing time as a backup wing. Bembry is probably a better player right now than Reddish, but Reddish is a lottery pick with significantly higher upside, and the Hawks are probably going to want to evaluate him sooner rather than later. As for Crabbe, one could argue that Bembry may be comparable (or better) as a player, but Atlanta might need Crabbe’s shooting when deploying Turner as the backup point guard. The Hawks might run a deep rotation as they did for parts of last year, but Bembry could be in a fringe role if things don’t break right. View the full article
  3. Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports Here we go. In the doldrums of summer, the Peachtree Hoops staff came together for a 10-part roundtable series, answering a series of prompts with an eye toward the upcoming season. Part one centers on our favorite transactions of the off-season. Jeff Siegel: At the time it happened, the Allen Crabbe trade looked fantastic for the Hawks. They ended up squandering some of the value created by overpaying in the deal to move up for De’Andre Hunter, but the Crabbe trade itself was quite good -- they got a first-rounder for taking on Crabbe’s final year at $18.6 million and got another first for Taurean Prince, a player who may not have factored into their future plans anyway. Prince’s mercurial nature and inability/unwillingness to consistently play defense made him fully expendable for the Hawks and the club got about as much value as they could have hoped for in a trade. Graham Chapple: For me, the jury is still out on the De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish selections (more so Hunter than Reddish, given the haul of assets Atlanta parted with to move up) so I’d prefer to hold reservations on those. To be honest, I’m not especially high on anything the Hawks did this summer -- it’s a bunch of ‘meh.’ The correct answer is probably the haul the Hawks got in the Taurean Prince-Allen Crabbe and picks deal but I’m actually a little higher on the Jabari Parker deal than others. I don’t like the player option for year two -- and there are obviously other drawbacks to Parker’s game -- but I like the gamble from Travis Schlenk on a guy that has obviously had it rough in the NBA so far and someone who has something to prove. It’s a low-risk, potentially high-reward deal (though, the player option takes some of that away). Again, I’m not mad on what the Hawks did this summer in retrospect but for the sake of saying something... Rashad Milligan: I’ve talked myself into really liking the Jabari Parker signing. As a backup big on a team with a lot of new wings, this is a chance for him to continue building that momentum he started in Washington last season. He’s taken a lot of pride in his defensive makeover and hopefully Lloyd Pierce can turn his expectations into reality. Zach Hood: Drafting Cam Reddish at No. 10. I’m high on Reddish, and think it’s entirely reasonable that he ends up being one of the better players in the 2019 draft class by the time it’s all said and done. Even if he doesn’t reach the ceiling of his star potential, the floor should be high given his shooting talent and defensive acumen/versatility to go along with great size and length for his position. Toby Adeyemi: My favorite offseason transactions for the Hawks happen to be their latest in Brandon Goodwin. He was a star locally at Norcross High School, and he broke out his senior year with the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles. He led the team with 18 and nearly five assists on his way to a regular-season Atlantic Sun Championship and multiple accolades. He averaged 21 a game last year in the G-League with the Nuggets and Grizzlies, which earned him a two-way contract with the Hawks this season. I believe he is their best addition this offseason because he has a perfectly defined role behind Trae Young. If he can translate his scoring ability from the G League and keep the Hawks offense flowing when Young’s out the game, he can be a real piece for the Hawks this season. Sam Meredith: My favorite transaction of the offseason had to be landing Cam Reddish with the 10th pick of the draft. I think he has higher upside than about six players taken in the top ten. I don’t think Duke’s structure this season was very conducive to Reddish’s style or growth. I think almost every outlet undervalues his defensive skill-set, and with his size and measurables, he projects to be a solid NBA player who may have a chance to start down the road. Matt Harris: The Hawks had a productive offseason but nothing that wowed me, which is perfectly fine for where the team is at. I would have to say the trade for Allen Crabbe was my favorite move of the offseason. The Hawks offloaded Taurean Prince and brought back two firsts, one of which helped them move up on draft day to acquire De’Andre Hunter. I’m a big fan of trading nonessential assets for first rounders, so this move takes the cake. Glen Willis: There is not a single transaction that really stands out to me as being profoundly better than the others. Looking back, it seems they had a plan and they executed the plan. However, using the No. 10 overall draft pick to acquire Cam Reddish could, in time, deliver the most value of any of the transactions. Reddish has a lot of upside and lands with a team that already has enough offensive firepower such that he will not have to deal with significant expectations early in his career. If he is able to make the most of the opportunity and buys into the player development program of the Hawks’ coaching staff, Reddish could end up being another member of an exciting young core group of players with whom Atlanta looks to build for the future. Andrew Kelly: The Taurean Prince trade with Brooklyn for Allen Crabbe and two 1st round picks. Though a good shooter, Prince was a significant net negative on the court for the Hawks. Even if he returns to his rookie season defensive impact in Brooklyn, it wasn’t going to happen in Atlanta. Schlenk was correct to avoid a contract decision in the summer of 2020. A return of a 2019 1st round pick, a protected 2020 1st, along with Allen Crabbe’s expiring contract, is a big win. When healthy, Crabbe has been a productive rotation player and could have an impact off the bench next season. Dylan Hughes: Taking Cam Reddish at No. 10 overall. To me, Reddish seems like a player that have a lot more success in the NBA than he did in college. In his lone season at Duke, where he shared the floor with non-shooters in R.J. Barrett, Zion Williamson, and Tre Jones, there wasn’t a ton of space to operate. Reddish shot just 51.2 percent at the rim and 27.7 percent on 2-point jumpers (via Hoop-Math). He shot below average from 3 as well at 33.3 percent. In an offense with a lot more space, however — sharing the floor with the likes of Trae Young and Kevin Huerter — Reddish will see more open looks and space to operate in off of closeouts. Greg Willis: The trade with Brooklyn stands out to me. Taurean Prince is a talented player but perhaps not an ideal fit in Lloyd Pierce’s system and was only a year away from free agency. Getting two first round picks for him in the deal is a huge win, as the expiring contract of Allen Crabbe has no impact on the team’s ability to continue building the team over the next several seasons. The Hawks have accumulated a strong collection of young players through the draft recently and are positioned to keep adding more in the near future. Brad Rowland: For me, it’s the trade with Brooklyn that brought two first-round picks. One of those selections is already gone as part of the trade to land De’Andre Hunter but, from a process perspective, I liked Travis Schlenk capitalizing early (remember, the deal was in early June) to land the equivalent of first-round value for both Taurean Prince and for taking on Allen Crabbe’s contract. It wasn’t an A-plus-plus-plus-plus move in the way the Dennis Schröder trade was last summer, but it was clearly a positive transaction in my view. View the full article
  4. Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images This won’t go over well. Almost a month has passed since we took a glance at national projections for the Atlanta Hawks but, with training camp inching closer, ESPN’s Kevin Pelton released the network’s projected standings based on real plus-minus (RPM). As he notes, the estimate isn’t necessarily kind to the Hawks, with 30.4 projected victories and only a 3 percent chance to crash the playoff party. Given the young Hawks won 29 games last season, this projection might be somewhat disappointing. The veterans that Atlanta added this summer, most notably Evan Turner, don’t figure to help the team win, and lottery picks De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish also project as below-replacement players as rookies. It isn’t stunning to see this kind of projection on a purely statistical basis, simply because of the reliance Atlanta might have on young players, including Hunter, Reddish and Bruno Fernando as rookies. It could be argued that the Hawks actually downgraded (for 2019-20 only) on their supporting cast — particularly with the loss of Dewayne Dedmon — and, as such, the team will be relying on projected jumps from Trae Young, John Collins and Kevin Huerter. However, this projection is definitely on the lower end for the Hawks and, without knowing the full, player-by-player projections, it is probably safe to assume that Turner, Jabari Parker and the other peripheral additions don’t stack up favorably in the numbers. For those that might want to know the background of how these projections come together, here is Pelton’s explanation: Our RPM projections utilize the multiyear, predictive version of RPM as a starting point. They’re adjusted for typical player aging and -- new this season -- then regressed toward the player’s projected offensive rating and defensive rating from my SCHOENE projection system, based solely on box score stats. (For players without RPM projections, including rookies, the SCHOENE ratings are used instead.) Games played are projected based on time missed over the previous three seasons. I then make a subjective guess at minutes distributions for each team. Multiplying those minutes by players’ offensive and defensive ratings yields team ratings that translate into expected wins. I used those projections to simulate the season 1,000 times and record the average number of wins as well as how often each team made the playoffs. The entire pecking order is behind ESPN’s paywall but, for the sake of clarity, the Hawks land at No. 12 in the East, ahead of only the Hornets, Cavaliers and Knicks. At the very least, it seems overly pessimistic to project Atlanta behind the Washington Wizards in the standings (in fact, it’s relatively ludicrous), even if the other 10 teams have reasonable arguments to be ahead of the Hawks at this early juncture in the calendar. Stay tuned. View the full article
  5. Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images Looking a little deeper into Atlanta’s slate. At this stage of the summer, the draft, free agency and Las Vegas Summer League feels like a long time ago. Compare that to when the regular season ended back in April... it’s been a struggle. But on Monday, some life was finally breathed into a new season with the release of the Atlanta Hawks’ 2019-20 schedule, along with the rest of the NBA. A number of games are appealing off of the bat, but today we’re going to look at the schedule in a little more detail, month-by-month, and look at some of the finer details of the Hawks’ schedule. Alright, before we get into it, I’m going to referencing strength of schedule from November onward and these are based on the Las Vegas over/under projections, with all 30 teams’ strength of schedule month-by-month, pre and post All-Star break all compiled in this graphic from Jared Dubin: If the Hawks can just keep their head above water for November, December and January (and I mean literally just above water, or even below water and bobble up-and-down and just not drown) and are in-or-around striking distance of a playoff spot by the All-Star break, there’s a good chance the Hawks can get to the playoffs because their schedule is very kind from there on out. It’s a big ask but even if they aren’t in a playoff race by February, the final few weeks of the season can at least provide some optimism for the following season. Plenty to look forward to as the season gets (slowly) closer but it’ll be important to remember that things are probably going to get worse before they get better for the Atlanta Hawks next season. View the full article
  6. Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports The full schedule for the 2019-20 NBA season is out and the Atlanta Hawks will begin their 82-game marathon on Oct. 24 against the Detroit Pistons. As always, there will be plenty of intrigue along the way but, if you are looking for a few particular dates to add to the calendar, we have 10 games to watch for your perusal. Here they are in chronological order and, since everyone will presumably dial in to the season opener, we’ll leave that one off for now. Oct. 31 - Hawks vs. Heat - The Hawks only have two national TV games (note: this does not include NBA TV offerings) and the first one arrives on Halloween. Other than the season opener, it is possible that no game will provide this much intrigue, as a coast-to-coast audience will get to watch Trae Young and John Collins face off against Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. Admittedly, Miami isn’t the sexiest opponent but Halloween should be fun. Nov. 8 - Hawks vs. Kings - Dewayne Dedmon returns to Atlanta early in the season and that is cause for commemoration. In this space, we’ve spoke fondly of Dedmon and, even if it made sense to move on considering the contract he gathered in Sacramento, it will be odd to watch him on the other side. Oh, this game also features a spectacular point guard match-up between Young and De’Aaron Fox. Dec. 4 - Hawks vs. Nets - Brooklyn will be worth monitoring all season long, as the Hawks own their 2020 first-round pick. Beyond that, this is the return of Taurean Prince to Atlanta and the first of four match-ups is featured here as a result. Dec. 15 - Hawks vs. Lakers - LeBron James and Anthony Davis coming to town on a Sunday evening in December? Seems pretty self-explanatory to me. Jan. 20 - Hawks vs. Raptors - MLK Day is always a spectacle in Atlanta and the Hawks are playing host to the reigning champs. This is an NBA TV broadcast and, on the floor, a battle between Collins and Pascal Siakam should be worth the price of admission. Jan. 22 - Hawks vs. Clippers - If we’re being honest, the two teams that will dominate the headlines all season long will be the Lakers and Clippers. For the sake of entertainment, this game gets bland if Kawhi Leonard and/or Paul George don’t play but the Clippers are the betting favorites to win the title. Circle this one. Feb. 1 - Hawks at Mavericks - After facing off in October last season, Young and Luka Doncic will have to wait until February this time around. The ROY finalists are discussed in the same breath over and over again. Honestly, it’s a surprise that this one (or the rematch) didn’t get national TV love. Feb. 7 - Hawks at Celtics - Long-time Hawks fans hate the Celtics and other factors don’t matter. With that said, this is also the first game after the trade deadline and Atlanta could be active again. Feb. 29 - Hawks vs. Blazers - It would be fair to say that Kent Bazemore’s return to Atlanta might be even weirder than that of Dedmon and Prince. Bazemore was the longest-tenured member of the roster before the trade that sent him to Portland and the tribute video is already being made. Apr. 15 - Hawks vs. Cavaliers - This is the season finale and, for the first time in a while, it could be meaningful in a playoff push. Cleveland might be really bad this season but, hey, the last game of the regular season is noteworthy. Stay tuned. View the full article
  7. Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports The 82-game slate is here. While the 2019-20 preseason schedule for the Atlanta Hawks has been publicly available for some time, the NBA world was awaiting the release of the full, 82-game slate for the league’s 30 teams. That (finally) arrived on Monday afternoon, and the Hawks will open the upcoming campaign with a road game against the Detroit Pistons on Oct. 24 before returning to Atlanta for the home opener against the Orlando Magic on Oct. 26. In addition to the season opener, Atlanta’s schedule is always highlighted by what transpires on MLK Day, with the Hawks set to host the Toronto Raptors at 2:30 pm ET on Jan. 20, 2020 at State Farm Arena. From a national TV perspective, the Hawks have only two games that will be shown across the country (up from just one last season), and both will come against the Miami Heat on Oct. 31 and Dec. 10. The schedule includes 16 weekend home games (six Friday, seven Saturday, three Sunday) and 14 sets of back-to-backs, including two home/home, four home/road, three road/home and five road/road. All of Atlanta’s Monday-through-Saturday home games will feature 7:30 p.m. tip times, with the exception of the Halloween game against Miami (7:00 pm ET for national TV purposes) and MLK Day against Toronto (2:30 pm ET). Here is the full schedule for the 2019-20 season. View the full article
  8. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images Roughly halfway through Las Vegas Summer League play, it was announced that the Hawks had acquired the 30th pick of the 2016 NBA draft, Damian Jones, from the Golden State Warriors (along with an all-important second round pick) in exchange for the 30th pick of the 2018 NBA draft, Omari Spellman. Despite the fact that Jones has been in the league for three years, he has played just 584 minutes as compared to the 805 minutes that Spellman logged in an even injury-shortened rookie season last year. In that context, it’s instinctive to view Jones as what he is in the form of a prospect. He is barely 24 years of age after all. With that said, Atlanta might not have the luxury of handling him as they do the other young prospects on the roster. Apart from the Hawks and Jones unexpectedly agreeing to an extension by the October deadline, the big man will be a restricted free agent next summer, and that outcome only arrives if Atlanta even extends a qualifying offer, which is not certain (or potentially even likely) to happen. We will never know the primary reasons the organization chose to move away from Spellman and to instead give Jones a test drive. Jones doesn’t have anything close the set of ball skills that Spellman possesses. The development of Alex Len last season as a shooter might suggest that the team thinks it can help Jones go down a similar development path this season, but Jones has struggled mightily at the free throw line to this point in his short career, which might temper expectations in this area. Considering that offensive projection, the value that Jones brings as a prospect on the defensive end of the court might be what generated the most interest in him on the part of his new team. Likely to start the season in a competition for backup center minutes behind Len, Jones might not have a ton of time to establish himself as the season-long understudy. Rookie Bruno Fernando is certain to get playing time at some point this season considering Atlanta’s substantial investment to acquire his services. It seems possible that the organization just landed on the evaluation that Spellman would never be a functional defensive fit with their rising star that mans the power forward position, John Collins. As such, Jones could serve as a worthwhile template to explore in terms of defensive front court makeup. In short, Collins is currently not a strong enough rim protector to anchor defensive lineups for long stretches. He also struggles, at least at times, on the defensive glass when facing some of the bigger centers and power forwards in the league. Len proved to be a decent defensive complement to Collins last season. Jones may have slightly reduced size comparatively, but has more mobility and athleticism than Len. The rookie, Fernando, looks to be a similar athlete as Jones even if he is not quite as big. Last season, the few games in which Len took a healthy DNP-CD arrived when the Hawks were switching on defense across all five positions. He just lacks the type of athleticism and agility to keep up with quicker ball-handlers when Lloyd Pierce is deploying more malleable lineups. Jones and Fernando likely have enough mobility to play at the center position when Atlanta might choose to deploy a very switch-heavy defensive scheme. In short, I think the evaluation of Jones this season will primarily be how he functions as a rotation big that might get more playing time in games in which the defensive plan calls for a heavy dose of switching. So, let’s explore what he has demonstrated thus far as an NBA player. This possession is an example of what it looks like when Jones is kind of putting it all together. His positioning when Len is looking to set a screen for Kent Bazemore is perfect. He makes some contact with Bazemore as a way to help his teammate, Quinn Cook, to not lose track of his man. When Trae Young tries to create with dribble penetration, Jones helps cut off his path while not losing track of his man. This looks simple, but there are not a ton of big men in the league that can impact as many different actions as Jones did on this possession. When defending in isolation, he is pretty consistent with his technique. On this possession (one in which he he is defending the player he would eventually be traded for), he demonstrates a nearly flawless posture and ability to “sit and slide.” Match-ups against other physical bigs has often resulted in foul trouble, but it is seldom that he gets pushed around by even the strongest centers in the league. On this play, Steven Adams tries to work his way toward the rim but Jones does not even give him an inch. This trait, specifically, will serve him well when deployed with Collins. He generally has a good feel for when and how to help at the rim. That’s especially the case when the opposing teams set allows him to set up at or near the baseline. Zach LaVine almost drops one of the best defenders in the league, Draymond Green, on this play with his in-and-out dribble. Jones helps deny the shot without creating an obvious opportunity for LaVine to drop a pass to his man, Wendell Carter, Jr. This is Jones operating in typical pick and roll coverage. Once again, the technique is very good. He makes himself as wide as he can by extending his arms. This allows him to present himself in the path of Paul George while also not giving Steven Adams a chance to get to the rim behind him. On this possession, we can see Jones defending post pick and roll action when the offense was able to force a switch. He is one of the few centers in the league that can keep LaVine in front of him this effectively. He eventually gets help from Kevin Durant, but that’s not random. Jones knew where help was available and worked hard to push LaVine toward it. This is an example of a situation in which the technique and execution disappear. On this play, Jones ends up off of the ball and on the perimeter. Note that he knows what he is supposed to do, but the execution is not there. He is supposed to help with a “dig” on Schröder. The objective of a “dig” is to force the ball handler to pick up his dribble. Jones whiffs and Schröder gets the lay up. To be fair, centers get very few actual repetitions doing things like this. So it is a little impressive that he recognize the technique for which the situation called. Still, this possession fairly captures how his defensive value is not the same when he is both away from the play and away from the rim. This possession captures a lot of what drives his foul trouble (career 5.7 fouls per 36 minutes) in that he very frequently reacts to ball fakes and head fakes. He’s gotten better at not leaving the floor when reacting to them, but Jones still has a tendency to bring his arms down and make the foul call quite obvious for the officials. When considering the lack of veteran depth at the center position on the Hawks roster, it will be critical for Jones to improve his ability to defend without fouling. It is perhaps his biggest question mark on that end of the floor. After looking back at Jones’ performance as a defender in the league to date, it seems obvious that Spellman profiled as a lesser prospect on that end of the floor. When considering the trajectory Collins has as an offensive player, it’s not hard to imagine that Atlanta decided that they’d search for a big man that brings a different value distribution as a player. Jones, after all, will never develop the shooting and ball handling prowess Spellman has. After the Hawks finished 28th in defensive rating last season, Jones could be an acquisition aimed to bring better execution on that end of the court for the 2019-2020 NBA season. It remains to be seen as to the kind of impact he’ll have, or even how much he’ll play if Fernando emerges, but Jones does have the skill set to contribute in a positive manner. View the full article
  9. Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images Checking in on the standout point guard. Trae Young, John Collins and Lloyd Pierce have been busy in early August, representing the Atlanta Hawks at Team USA camp in Las Vegas. While Young and Collins are technically part of the Select Team (on the scene to practice against the National Team), both have drawn positive reviews for their play on the floor. Unfortunately, Young’s experience came to an end early as a result of what he describes as a “minor injury.” Brian Windhorst of ESPN reports that Young has a “minor eye infection” and, all things equal, this doesn’t appear to be a significant issue moving forward. In addition, the obligations of the Select Team don’t extend deep into August and the impact of Young’s early departure should be minimal. Still, it is worth taking stock of how things went in the desert and Ben Golliver of the Washington Post shed a bit of light on Young’s present and future. “Trae is a stud,” Celtics guard Kemba Walker shared with the Post. “You can tell how much work he puts into his game.” From there, Pierce told Golliver that he expects Young to channel this experience into a leadership role in Atlanta. “He’s going to need to be our leader,” Pierce said. “We need him to take this [Team USA] experience back to Atlanta. We need him to be vocal and accountable for our team’s success. It’s a lot to put on any young player, but he wants it.” Young already operates as the offensive engine of the Hawks and with that comes inherent responsibility that arrived even during his rookie season. Still, it is another thing entirely to have the head coach describe the second-year guard as “our leader” and, from the sound of it, things went well for Young in Vegas. Stay tuned. View the full article
  10. Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images An important study. In a throwback to Peachtree Hoops lore (example here), we’ve launched a comprehensive investigation into a specific topic regarding the Atlanta Hawks. It’s August and nothing is happening. 21-year-old John Collins is a member of USA Basketball’s Select Team, tasked with helping USA Basketball’s National Team prepare for the FIBA World Cup. 24-year-old Kyle Kuzma is participating with USA Basketball’s National Team and might even make the 12-man roster for the FIBA World Cup. They even have the same NBA 2K rating for the 2019-20 season. Why, you ask, does this post exist? Well, John Collins is better than Kyle Kuzma at... everything? For the sake of fairness, we’ll include the entire two-year career for both players when dissecting their advanced numbers. Okay, okay. Kuzma has played more minutes to this point. So he’s got that going for him. Did I mention that John Collins is 21 years old? Yes, there are defensive questions about Collins long-term but, um, Kuzma isn’t good on that end of the floor either. Let the record reflect our objection to any notion that Kyle Kuzma is, in fact, better than John Collins. It’s just not true. View the full article
  11. Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images Fun with off-season rankings. With (very) little else to discuss, plenty of attention is paid to how NBA experts rank the league’s 30 teams in the middle of the off-season. Sure, there are stray moves here and there (hello, Vince Carter) but, for the most part, team rosters are virtually set and that allows die-hards to look ahead and prognosticate about the future. To that end, legendary NBA figure David Aldridge, now employed by The Athletic, put forth an annual staple this week, ranking the entire league through an interesting lens. Here is the criteria for the list: The conceit is simple: rank how all 30 teams have done since the end of their respective seasons, looking at everything, from how they drafted to what trades they made, to significant free-agent signings and to whether they participated in free agency much at all. I looked at coaching changes, new GMs, new buildings that could generate significantly more revenue going forward, or practice facilities that are now online. I then decided which ones I liked the most. Aldridge later clarifies that this is not a power ranking of how teams are projected to finish, but rather an evaluation of the off-season and the off-season alone. With that out of the way, he slots the Atlanta Hawks at No. 15 overall. The piece explicitly praises Chelsea Lane, Atlanta’s executive director of athletic performance and sports medicine, saying that “her reputation as a clinician that saw the big picture when it came to players’ health and confidence will continue paying dividends in Atlanta with a young Hawks team.” From there, he notes the following about the moves executed by general manager Travis Schlenk. Schlenk continues to play the long game, rinsing and filling his roster again to get younger and still more diverse to surround Trae Young and John Collins. This year’s haul included Hunter, who I think has major two-way potential for stardom, and Reddish, who has as much talent as anyone in this year’s draft, but whose motor came into question at the wrong time. He’ll have ample chance to bloom amongst the budding flowers in the ATL. Fernando had several first-round grades before the draft and cost next to nothing to get; Turner will replace Bazemore in the rotation and the Hawks got yet another future first, this one from Brooklyn, to add to their still-ample pile of assets. Kenny Atkinson may be long gone to the Nets, but the Hawks have Brooklyn’s team-building DNA all over them. Aldridge’s evaluation (and placement) is generally in line with the consensus of what the Hawks did over the summer. Everyone agrees that Atlanta’s future is brighter now than it was 12 months ago, with the progression of Trae Young, Kevin Huerter and John Collins combining with the addition of De’Andre Hunter, Cam Reddish and Bruno Fernando. There is disagreement on the process, headlined by the trade package used to grab De’Andre Hunter and some confusion around the league about the Bazemore-Turner swap. One of those moves is a lot more important than the other but, in short, many view the off-season as neutral from a “grade” perspective, even while acknowledging excitement for the future with a talented, intriguing young core. The full list is worth a read (subscription required), if only because Aldridge has been doing this round-up for a while and has a good feel of the league. For the Hawks, though, it is generally more of the same and a reminder that training camp can’t arrive soon enough. Stay tuned. View the full article
  12. Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images It’s been a long and winding road for Jabari Parker. The former No. 2 overall pick appeared in 64 games for two different teams (the Bulls and Wizards) during the 2018-19 season and, while his stint in Chicago was not necessarily fruitful, Parker enjoyed a mini-renaissance in the nation’s capital. The 24-year-old forward produced strong per-36 minute averages (19.7 points, 9.5 rebounds) to go along with 58.7 percent true shooting in Washington and, with that as the backdrop, the Hawks came calling with a two-year contract that includes a (controversial) 2020-21 player option. Parker recently caught up with KC Johnson of the Chicago Tribune to reflect on his arrival in Atlanta and he was candid in declaring it a “good situation.” “It’s never promised that things are going to go well, but just from the energy that I’m feeling, it’s a good situation for me,” Parker said. “Trae Young is someone who can not only score but distribute. John Collins is a very, very good player.” There is, of course, nothing surprising about a newly-signed player speaking positively about his new organization but, in this case, there is something to be said for situation having a positive effect. For one, Parker has never been in an ideal situation, as he played under a mixed regime (to be kind) with Jason Kidd in Milwaukee and did so while battling ongoing knee issues. From there, Parker landed in a not-so-conducive fit in Chicago (despite it being his hometown) and, while Washington was a step up, that was always likely to be a short-term partnership between player and team due to the over-sized contract Parker originally signed with the Bulls. Parker’s offensive fit will be interesting to monitor in Atlanta but, at the very least, he brings pedigree as a scorer and there is evidence (look no further than his production in 2016-17) of real upside. For now, though, Parker seems to understand what his role will be and he shared interesting perspective on the journey so far. “I know the expectations,” Parker continued. “I can fulfill my role accordingly. I’m young, but they’re younger. One thing I take pride in is I’ve now been every player — from the first to last guy on the team. And I’m grateful for those experiences.” It wasn’t too long ago that Parker was seen as a potential superstar and, alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo, as a core piece for the Bucks. Those days might be gone but, given his age, there is reason to believe that Parker could rekindle the flame a bit and the understanding of his role — one that projects him as the backup power forward behind John Collins — is a good place to start. Will he defend? Well, that’s a major question and one that can’t be fully answered until Parker is deployed within Lloyd Pierce’s scheme in Atlanta. If Parker’s defensive foibles continue at his previous career rate, it becomes difficult to deploy him in certain lineups, with the roster already posing some defensive question marks. On the offensive end, though, the rationale behind landing Parker likely begins with his ability to individually create shots with reasonable efficiency on the second unit. That may not be the high-profile role many expected Parker to occupy by the time he was 24 years old, but that archetype could be especially useful with the Hawks, and the newly acquired forward is saying the right things. View the full article
  13. Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images The elder statesman is back. Vince Carter enjoyed a memorable season in 2018-19, acting as a prominent member of a fun basketball team with the Atlanta Hawks. Throughout his 21st season in the NBA, Carter answered seemingly endless questions about his future and, along the way, the 42-year-old declared that he had every intention of continuing his career with another run in 2019-20. It took a while for Carter’s next step to illuminate but on Monday, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN broke word that Carter will, in fact, be in the league for the upcoming campaign and he will return to the Hawks. There were many twists and turns along the way, with the Hawks acquiring a pair of veterans (Jabari Parker and Chandler Parsons), a pair of rookies (De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish) and another established option (Evan Turner) as options at the forward spots alongside John Collins. That seemingly led to a lack of a defined slot for Carter but, after more than a month on the free agent market, the future Hall of Famer chose to return to Atlanta, even without a clear path to regular playing time. During the 2018-19 season, Carter was quite effective, occupying the backup power forward role behind Collins and continuing his late-career renaissance as a knock-down shooter. The veteran connected on 39 percent of his three-point attempts and, while Carter isn’t the same athlete that he was in his prime (for obvious reasons), he held up defensively, even when asked to slide back to the small forward spot to make up for injuries elsewhere on the roster. Beyond his on-court impact, Carter was renowned for his leadership during his first season with the Hawks, drawing rave reviews from teammates and coaches. Even if he does not receive regular playing time when the roster is at full strength, Carter can provide value behind-the-scenes and, as he showed last season, the team’s elder statesman can still check a number of boxes when thrusted into extended deployment. With Carter returning, the Hawks add another versatile, floor-spacing threat and there is real value in that profile, even if it might come in something of an insurance role. Carter is much more than that, though, and fans will undoubtedly be thrilled to observe his movements during what will be a record-breaking campaign. Stay tuned. View the full article
  14. Photo by Jasear Thompson/NBAE via Getty Images After enjoying his best season in the NBA with Atlanta, there’s more to come from Alex Len as he steps into a more prominent role. With the madness of the NBA draft and free agency now in the rear-view mirror — less so of the madness from the Atlanta Hawks’ perspective — attention now slowly turns to the upcoming season. Once again, it was a summer of changes for the Atlanta Hawks, as they welcomed draft selections De’Andre Hunter, Cam Reddish and Bruno Fernando while saying goodbye to players such as Kent Bazemore and Taurean Prince. Another player that the Hawks bade farewell to was center Dewayne Dedmon, who departed in free agency for the Sacramento Kings, signing a reported three year, $40 million deal. Dedmon enjoyed two successful years in Atlanta as the starting center, with Alex Len serving as a backup — coming off of the bench primarily — during Dedmon’s final season with the Hawks. With the roster changes during the summer — the departure of Dedmon, the drafting of Bruno Fernando, the Omari Spellman trade (which includes the acquisition of a player who certainly won’t be prioritized in the rotation as Spellman was, in the form of Damion Jones), the Miles Plumlee trade resulting in the acquisition of wing Chandler Parsons and with Vince Carter’s Atlanta future still uncertain at this stage — Alex Len is suddenly (and by some margin) the team’s best center option. Len is undoubtedly the team’s starting center heading into this season and is in line for a much larger role this season than his first season in Atlanta where he averaged 20 minutes per game. The team’s center depth is certainly weakened this season and it probably consists of Len, John Collins (who isn’t a full-time center, but will certainly play there this season), Bruno Fernando and Damian Jones — that’s it, unless the Hawks add another big. After Len and Collins, there’s obviously a considerable drop-off in terms of the team’s quality in center options and while Fernando is intriguing as an NBA prospect, he’s still an NBA rookie — rookies are, generally speaking, not great NBA players. There are exceptions, of course, but generally speaking... So, off of the bat, the importance of Alex Len is amplified simply because of the roster choices the Hawks made this summer, and should he pick up an injury it would leave the Hawks in a bit of a tough bind. Thankfully for the Hawks, Len has proved himself largely durable for the most part throughout his career so far. Out of his six NBA seasons, Len has three 75+ game seasons (including last year in Atlanta) and two other seasons where he played 69 games — injuries haven’t really been an issue for Len in the NBA so far (touch wood). This proved very useful when the Hawks were able to slot an NBA starting-caliber center in the form of Len when Dewayne Dedmon was injured— missing 38 games in his two seasons with Atlanta. This means that we have some reference material of Len in the Hawks starting lineup in the absence of Dedmon, and we can kind of get an eye in for how the Hawks will look next season with Len as the starting center. Though, relevant reference material is a little harder to come by, as some of those games where Len replaced Dedmon in the lineup, there was an absence of John Collins, so for that reason alone there’s probably not a ton of point of looking at games where Len was joined in the frontcourt by Omari Spellman. Anyways, we’re going to take a dive into some film of Len in starting lineup in the absence of Dedmon, but also with Trae Young, Kevin Huerter and John Collins playing — again, it’s just to get an eye in for what the Hawks could look like on offense going forward into this season. For the most part, the primary pick-and-roll action is run between Trae Young and John Collins, which is what you’d expect to be the case — the identity of the Hawks amongst league fans is pretty much that duo...it’s also the best action the Hawks can probably run anyways. So nothing really jumps out there. When they do this Len can take up residence either in the paint on the weak-side but more often than not, he’s stationed a bit more so on the perimeter. Of course, it’s not his exclusive role on offense, but in many ways he’ll fill the space Dedmon left, and it begins with the three-pointer. In fact, it’s probably the most important thing Len can bring to the table. Len’s ability to make the three-pointer (shooting 36% from three last season) is essential to spacing the floor and giving the Hawks and Young more options on offense. If Len isn’t able to hit that shot, it hurts the Hawks in what they want to achieve offensively. Take this play for example — Young and Collins combine in the pick-and-roll and Len is in the corner. Collins draws LaMarcus Aldridge away from Len, who is found by Young for the open three-point attempt: The fact he missed the shot shouldn’t negate what happened in that play: it’s Young and Collins primarily in the pick-and-roll, and then Len can space the floor and provide another option, should a help defender decide to double-down/rotate on Collins and/or Young can’t get anything to go himself. On this play, Collins and Young engage in the pick-and-roll with Len in the corner, Young probably should pass first time to the corner, puts up a poor shot, gets it back and then finds Len outside the arc for three: Here, it’s now former Hawk Kent Bazemore this time that combines with Collins, with Len in the corner. The pass to Len is made, but the three-pointer is missed: This was an interesting play where the Cavaliers doubled Young off of the pick-and-roll, Collins rolls down the lane where he is met by Len’s defender (Larry Nance Jr.), Young passes to DeAndre’ Bembry, who slips it to the open Len in the corner for the open three-point attempt: Again, Young and Collins execute the pick-and-roll, Young finds Len in the corner for the three-point attempt: Here was an interesting play where Young-Collins go through their action, nothing materializes down the middle, Young passes to Len in the corner, and Young and Len then run through a secondary action where Len slips the pick-and-roll, the Spurs defend the rim well and Young has to go to Taurean Prince for a three-point attempt: You get the idea: Len provides the Hawks with an option should the Young-Collins pick-and-roll not yield anything worthy for either player. Len doesn’t exclusively chill out on the perimeter in Young-Collins pick-and-rolls, he sometimes represents the big inside as Young and Collins do their thing at the top of arc. After the pressure is shown to Young off of the Collins screen, Collins takes it inside, draws the defense and finds Alex Len for the dunk: Sometimes the roles are reversed and it’s Collins who looms on the perimeter and Len in the pick-and-roll, and this works well too, since Collins can also hit the three-pointer (shooting 35% from three last season). On this play, Young and Len engage in the pick-and-roll with Collins on the perimeter, and Young finds Collins for the three-point attempt: On this play, Young and Len work the pick-and-roll with Collins on the corner. Young squeezes inside and misses the left-handed layup this time, but had the option in the form of Collins in the corner: This next play sees Len and Young in the pick-and-roll, Len rolls inside, Young finds Collins for a three-point attempt: On occasion, Len and Collins both combine in some screening action up top, and it’s something I would love to see more of — especially some double-drag screen action. Here, the double screen action from Collins and Len, Len dives inside and Young does a good job finding him with the bounce-pass for the bucket plus the foul: Here’s another example, this time Collins rolls and Len hangs back for the three-point shot, only this time Young’s pass isn’t quite as crisp and Len can’t handle it and the Hawks have to reset: I absolutely love this play — where you have two screeners (usually in a double-drag screen) and one dives to the rim and the other hangs back and provides an outside option. The Spurs ran a variation against the Hawks a few seasons back and it’s a play I think about often — I love it (which is fairly sad, I understand). Anyways, David Lee (yeah, remember him?) and Pau Gasol are up top and set a screen for Patty Mills. Lee ducks to the basket while Pau stays at the three-point line, Dwight Howard strays too far from Gasol and Mills finds Pau for the three: The Spurs ran this action on multiple occasions in that game, it’s a beautiful action and I’d love to see the Hawks run this action more with Len and Collins, especially given Collins’ ability to put pressure on the rim in pick-and-roll. Once he gets a head of steam, he’s tough to stop in the lane, and if the defense covers him perhaps there’s an avenue for Alex Len to get a look at a good three-pointer. You can also reverse this action too, and have Collins hang back and Len dive to the rim, though I’d prefer to have Collins dive to the rim on these action since he’s much more athletic (but you can’t argue with Len’s sheer size either). Choices, sundry choices... Anyways, for the most part, Len becomes more of a perimeter player when Collins is on the floor (regardless who is handling the ball: whether it was Young, Lin Bazemore or Huerter) — not exclusively but Collins does take priority in the pick-and-roll action. And that’s fine, since Len can hit the three, and Collins’ ability to also hit the three means the Hawks can change things up and reverse the roles if necessary. When Collins is on the bench and Len is on the floor, Len is — as you would imagine — a bit more active in the pick-and-roll action than he is when Collins is on the floor, and he becomes the primary screener in pick-and-roll plays. This worked well last season because the Hawks had Vince Carter to stretch the floor at power forward but the Hawks have less options for that this season in situations where Collins is on the bench. If Chandler Parsons (pending injury concerns) and Jabari Parker can space the floor somewhat efficiently at the power forward spot, that’d be a big boost for the Hawks when Collins is on the bench and they want to maintain their shooting. The starting lineup conversation is one that you can have later, but the four-man lineup of Trae Young, Kevin Huerter, John Collins and Alex Len wasn’t awful last season In the total of 167 minutes they played together, the Hawks were only -11 in total plus/minus (which, given their record, isn’t awful) and shot 34% from three-point range. It’s also not really fair to compare that to the same four-man lineup with Dedmon replacing Len, which totalled a -51 in plus/minus but that lineup also played significantly more minutes than the one featuring Len: 666 minutes — that four-man lineup also shot 39% from three. Defensively, the numbers point to the four-man lineup with Len as being the better one (sporting a defensive rating 107.7 compared to 114.1 with Dedmon, but again, the lineup featuring Dedmon played significantly more minutes) but I don’t believe in that because Len is a worse defensive player than Dedmon. The defense is another rabbit hole you can climb into with Len — more so wanted to cover the offensive fit today — and though I’m not massive on Len as an overall defender, he has his moments and he can block shots. He’s fine, ‘it’s whatever’. Though he isn’t as strong as a defender as Dedmon, doesn’t have as good hands as Dedmon, or as good of a shooter as Dedmon or have as good of a celebration after a three-pointer as Dedmon, Alex Len can fill the void he left behind. He can do everything Dedmon can, just on a bit of a lesser scale. And that’s fine. Len’s size and shooting ability at his size is going to prove a valuable commodity for the Hawks and this season represents a golden opportunity for Len, who is stepping into an expanded role at the perfect time as he enters into a contract year. Will he be ready for the challenge? We shall see... View the full article
  15. Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports Adding to the training camp roster. In late July, the Atlanta Hawks agreed to a deal with Ray Spalding, bringing the former Louisville standout into the fold on an Exhibit 10 contract that brings Spalding to training camp and illuminates the potential for a partnership beyond that. On Friday, similar news broke with another player, with Shams Charania of The Athletic reporting the addition of Marcus Derrickson. For the sake of clarity, an Exhibit 10 deal allows for the Hawks to have Derrickson in training camp but does not mean that he will definitely join the regular season roster. Because an Exhibit 10 contract is guaranteed for $50,000 or less (and can be guaranteed for any amount between $5,000 and $50,000), the Hawks would have the opportunity to keep Derrickson on their G League team in College Park. Derrickson, a 6’7 power forward, appeared in 11 games for the Golden State Warriors last season, taking the floor for a total of 67 regular season minutes. Most of his 2018-19 campaign was spent in the G League with the Santa Cruz Warriors, where Derrickson averaged 13.7 points and 5.6 rebounds per game in 35 appearances. Perhaps most interestingly, Derrickson connected on 41.9 percent of his attempts from beyond the three-point arc and, in three seasons at Georgetown, he buried 39.7 percent from three-point distance. The 23-year-old may not land on the regular season roster under a full-time contract but Derrickson should be an interesting piece when the team convenes for training camp. With this agreement reportedly in place, the Hawks now employ 13 players on guaranteed contracts, a pair of players — Charlie Brown and Brandon Goodwin — on Two-Way contracts and a pair of players — Spalding and Derrickson — on Exhibit 10 deals. Stay tuned. View the full article