Scott's maturity makes statement for Hawks

Scott's maturity makes statement for Hawks

Published Jul. 12, 2012 2:07 p.m. ET

ATLANTA – Hawks’ second-round draft pick Mike Scott will celebrate his 24th birthday on Monday by playing Boston’s rookie team in an NBA Summer League game in Las Vegas.

Hey, he might have to work, but there are worse places to be on your birthday.

What stands out about Scott, besides his rebounding and mid-range shot, is his age for a rookie. Scott was born the same year (1988) as a number of his potential teammates, including starting point guard Jeff Teague, who was drafted three years ago, ’10 second-round pick Pape Sy and ’11 second-round pick Keith Benson.

Just casually talking to Scott, one gets a sense of his maturity, a trait that Hawks coach Larry Drew has picked up on as well.

“He’s very mature,” Drew said.

Drew said the he didn’t know much about Scott until he attended a pre-draft camp in Chicago in which Scott participated.

“He was as good as they were in the draft (shooting) from the mid-range,” Drew said. “Because our game, it’s almost turned into a predominantly pick-and-roll game, that’s put him into play because he’s a guy who can set a screen and he can separate and get into open space and you get him the ball and he’s open. He can knock that shot down.

“That’s what made him so intriguing and I saw it up in Chicago and you watch guys like that and just looking at his work ethic, he just seems to be a kid who knows who he is.”

Scott is as old as he is because he spent five years at the University of Virginia. Ten games into his senior season, he severely injured his left ankle. He said he underwent two arthroscopic surgeries on it, the second in February. Scott petitioned the NCAA for a medical redshirt, which he received. He said he did not fully recover until the preseason, a span of about eight months.

He called the experience “very humbling.”

“I had never had to sit out that long due to an injury,” he said, “so I just had to learn the game more and be a better leader and coach from the bench.”

When he got back on the court, Scott said he was in the best shape of his life. He averaged career highs in almost every significant category: points (18.0), rebounds (8.3), field-goal percentage (56.3) and minutes (31.2) in leading the Cavaliers to a 22-9 season. Incidentally, Scott’s ACC career came to an end in the same city in which his pro career is beginning. North Carolina State eliminated the Cavs 67-64 in the league tournament at Philips Arena, the same building where Scott will play for the Hawks. That assumes that Scott makes the team (neither of the organization’s last two second-round picks were on the roster last season), but his chances seem favorable as new general manager Danny Ferry remakes the roster and builds through the draft.

Atlanta's roster is a work in progress after Wednesday’s trades of Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams. The team finds itself somewhat thin at power forward. Scott looks like he could be an option as Josh Smith's backup.

Scott is 6-foot-8, which means he would give away a decent amount of size to most opposing power forwards, but the Hawks appear unfazed by that because of his strength and 237-pound frame (Smith is listed at 225). In particular, Drew has cited potential mismatch problems that Scott might be able to create in luring opposing forwards away from the low block since he has the ability to put the ball on the floor as well as shoot from range. Scott said that he stated realizing a few years back that he would not be able to dunk over every player and began modeling his game after Kevin Love, Kevin Garnett and Chris Bosh.

As for Scott’s defense, that might be the area that will require more development.

“A big part of playing (power forward) is just understanding what you can get away with defensively and what you can’t,” Drew said. “This will be a little bit different for him, but I do think he has the strength to hold his own down there.”

Scott himself seems to have tired of questions about whether he can make the transition to the NBA and play power forward.

“I get that question all the time,” he said. “I see myself as a ‘four.’ I feel comfortable playing ‘four,’ so if I have a mismatched guy on me, a bigger guy on me, I can go around him. If I have a smaller guy on me, I can post him up. In order to transition to a ‘three,’ I have to be able to guard a ‘three’ and that’s something I’m still working on.”