Walter Tavares: Part of Hawks’ Rotation in 2015-2016?


The Atlanta Hawks drafted Walter Tavares in the second round of the 2015 NBA Draft out of Cape Verde.

-= Related: Atlanta Hawks: Preseason Game 3 Takeaways =-

After playing the last two seasons in the Spanish ACB League (thought by many as the second best professional basketball league in the world), the Atlanta Hawks signed Walter Tavares to a multi-year deal, bringing the 7’3” center to the NBA. This past summer, the Atlanta Hawks got their first glimpse of Tavares in action at the Las Vegas Summer League, where the rookie impressed the club with his size and potential.

Head Coach Mike Budenholzer has played Walter Tavares extensively throughout the Hawks’ first three preseason contests, where the rookie has averaged over 13 minutes, playing alongside the Atlanta Hawks’ starters and primary reserves. Tavares has looked somewhat erratic on both ends of court throughout the first three preseason games, but has shown flashes of his potential value to the team. His size enables him to get to the basket, while he has the defensive presence to coral rebounds and affect opponent’s shots.

On Wednesday night against the San Antonio Spurs, Walter Tavares played 18 minutes, while scoring 7 points on 2-6 shooting. Tavares did not only play with the reserves, as is a common practice during the preseason, but also with the Atlanta Hawks starters. Mike Budenholzer has elected to play his starters and primary reserves heavily in exhibition games, which has led many to believe that Walter Tavares could become a part of the Hawks’ regular rotation.

Against the Spurs, Bud paired Tavares with both Al Horford and Paul Millsap on different occassion, while also playing a backcourt tandem of Jeff Teague and Dennis Schroder. While this is preseason, and its meaningless nature affords Budenholzer the opportunity to experiment with lineup combinations without consequence, it could portend that the Hawks could use Tavares in similar situations during the regular season: utilizing his size and physiology to benefit the team. 

More from Atlanta Hawks

Will Tavares become a part of the rotation? I would bet heavily against it at this point. Though he has seen significant minutes in the preseason, the young center still needs a lot of playing time in order to develop into the player the Hawks believe he is capable of being. On the depth chart, he is still behind Mike Muscala and Mike Scott in the frontcourt rotation, and I don’t see Mike Budenholzer altering that unless both Moose and Scott struggle early on. In order to give Tavares minutes, I expect the Hawks to assign him to a D-League squad often during the season, recalling him accordingly when the situation presents itself.

There is no doubting that Walter Tavares is a raw product, displaying his flaws throughout the summer league and the preseason; but with the right amount of development, and patience, the Atlanta Hawks could have found a diamond in the rough. Tavares may see more minutes later in the season, but early in the year, expect the young center to either play in the D-League or not dress at all.

Next: Atlanta Hawks: An All-NBAer on the 2015-2016 Roster?

More from ATL All Day