Coach Quin Snyder said he’s already seen growth from the rookies. First-round pick Kobe Bufkin had to adapt to an unfamiliar environment and learn something new playing point guard in Summer League. Mouhamed Gueye also had his positive moments during Summer League play as well.
The rookies also bonded with older players in Las Vegas during NBA Summer League. Guard AJ Griffin, entering his second year with the Hawks, played with the rookies during Summer League and said he’s excited to be around them.
“To show them how to navigate through the challenges as a rookie, I feel privileged to take that role at a young age,” said Griffin, who’s actually three years younger than Lundy.
Over the past month, Hawks’ players have been meeting up for five-on-five pickup games. Bufkin used these games as a learning opportunity, taking on players like Trae Young, Trent Forrest and Dejounte Murray.
“Whether they’re older than you or younger than you, someone is doing something better than you,” Bufkin said. “I guarantee it.”
Players have grown from conversations with veterans off the court, too. Guard Wesley Matthews, a 15-year league veteran, said he’s encouraged younger teammates to talk to him about anything — whether it’s about life off the court or advice on the court.
He said the team got together to watch Canelo Alvarez fight Jermell Charlo fight on Sunday, which he enjoyed.
The Hawks may be young, Matthews said, but it’s not a disadvantage.
“It’s not that type of young that doesn’t care,” Matthews said. “This organization is something you’re going to hear about for a while because of the type of young talent.”
What’s next for these players after training camp? Most will likely play for the College Park Skyhawks in order to further their development.
General manager Landry Fields said the Hawks have an integrated process with the SkyHawks, saying they’re in constant communication with coach Ryan Schmidt and that he will teach the rookies the Hawks’ system.
As they enter training camp, rookies are setting their own goals. Bufkin hopes to bring high energy, saying he wants to constantly work and learn from the veterans, too.
Gueye’s goals for the upcoming season: having fun and learning. He said he wants to bring his personality to playing defense and rebounding as well.
As the Hawks ready for the 2023 season, Fields said he’s impressed with the rookies’ growth so far and is excited for their developmental process this year.
“From draft to summer league, to see that jump has been really cool,” Fields said. “Those guys are working as hard as anybody — from Mo to Seth to Kobe. They really operate well as a group and they’re super hungry to get better.”