The Atlanta Hawks were ousted in the first round by the top-seeded Indiana Pacers. After a fascinating seven-round battle with the top seed, there have been arguments back and forth on whether it was a successful 2013-2014 campaign for the Atlanta Hawks; some say they had overachieved, some say they underachieved. Over the next couple weeks, we will break down the Hawks season and we will dish out grades for each of the Hawks players. Who played well, who was a disappointment, who will be back next year? We will dish out everything you want to hear about the Hawks past season, and what is to come ahead.
First, some quick requirements. We will only feature players that played in at least 10 games with the Hawks this season, so sorry Jeremy Tyler, James Nunnally, and Antawn Jamison; you were all part of the exciting journey in some capacity, but that is all the pub you will get in our season recaps.
Up on the docket today is big man, Mike Muscala.
Mike Muscala traveled a different route than most to early significant minutes late in the season for the Hawks. Muscala, wasn’t a high lottery pick or even drafted in the first round. Muscala was acquired in a draft night deal after being taken 44th overall by the Mavericks and then shipped to the Hawks. After Muscala participated in Summer League with the Hawks, he would go overseas to play abroad with Rio Natura Monbus in Spain.
The Hawks reached an agreement mid-season to pull Muscala away from the Spanish team and get him to the States, a move that at the time was almost essential given the lack of depth that the Hawks had in the front court after countless injuries had brought down their ship.
Muscala joined the Hawks on February 27th and was thrust into game action, providing a big body for the Hawks in a desperate time. In 20 games with Atlanta, Muscala averaged 10 minutes per game, 3.8 points per game and 2.6 rebounds per game. If you calculated Muscala’s numbers over a 36 minute time frame, he would have been on pace to average 12 points and 8 rebounds per game. Muscala showed well in advanced stats as well, as he was top five on the Hawks in both rebound percentage and block shot percentage. Metrics that calculate estimated production based on how effective a player is in specific categories while on the floor.
Shining Moment: On April 16th, in the Hawks last regular season contest of the year, Muscala was given his most minutes of the season (over 25 minutes on the court) and he made the most of it. Muscala connected on 6 of his 8 shots on the night and was perfect on all three free-throw attempts (in fact he was 14-14 from the line on the season). Muscala also added four rebounds, three assists, and two blocked shots in a 111-103 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks to close out the regular season.
Letter Grade: C+ – Not sure I could possible justify handing out a worse grade through Muscala in the quarter of the season he spent with the Hawks, but the fact that he just spent a quarter of the season with the Hawks makes it very hard to pass on a fair grade. Muscala seemed to adopt NBA style quickly and while he wasn’t all that flashy Muscala came in and provided depth down the stretch to a team that was reeling late in the season. There is certainly value in Muscala and he showed it to the Hawks this season.
2014-2015 season outlook: After Muscala left his team in Spain, the Hawks gave him an NBA contract and signed him through 2017. Muscala has every opportunity to now be a regular contributor in the NBA and provide valuable minutes and provide front court depth. His ability to shoot the ball could be key in his future with the Hawks as well as his ability to improve in the coming years. Look for Muscala in Summer League.