Mike Muscala impressing Hawks, Mike Budenholzer


The Atlanta Hawks have a good amount of depth at the 4 and 5 positions this year, and between Al Horford and Paul Millsap, the starters are basically set.

However, the rotation after that is far from a sure thing, and Mike Muscala is doing everything he can to outshine players like Elton Brand, Pero Antic, Mike Scott and rookie Adreian Payne. After playing in just 20 games and averaging 3.8 points and 2.6 rebounds last season, Muscala has been working hard over the summer–and Mike Budenholzer has noticed.

In Chris Vivlamore’s story for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (linked above), Budenholzer talks about the work ethic that Muscala brings to the table:

"“There is a little bit of a calming and confidence-type growth,” Budenholzer said. “He plays so hard, which is a huge skill. It sounds easy but it’s important, and it’s going to allow him a chance to be good. You also have to have a confidence and a poise when you are playing really hard, which is not easy and it kind of counterintuitive. I think he’s calmed down a little bit. He’s confident. He knows how to play hard and how to still function on the court and get positive things."

Still, Muscala has more things to improve upon before he can take that step and become an integral part of the team and the front court rotation:

"“Playing without fouling, screening, he still has a lot of areas in understanding the nuances of the offense and ball movement and trusting the system and the teammates. He’s still got a ways to go.”"

Still, this season should be especially challenging for Muscala as he fights to get on the court, as the aforementioned Al Horford is healthy again. He’ll soak up much of the time that was divied up between Antic, Scott and Brand last season, and Payne has impressed many people already as well.

As long as the Hawks aren’t hit too hard with the injury bug, front court depth should be a significant strength of the team–especially if Muscala is progressing as well as we’re hearing.