Milwaukee Bucks Giannis Antetokounmpo drives to the basket against an Atlanta Hawks double team by Trae Young and Omari Spellman during the first half in a NBA basketball game at State Farm Arena on Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019, in Atlanta. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com ccompton@ajc.com/Curtis Compton
Photo: ccompton@ajc.com/Curtis Compton
Photo: ccompton@ajc.com/Curtis Compton

Hawks’ Spellman brutally honest about lack of play

‘Pretty much, I was fat,’ the rookie forward said.

Omari Spellman was brutally honest.

There is a reason the Hawks rookie hasn’t been a regular part of the rotation. There is a reason he was sent to the NBA G League recently.

Now, there is a reason he is getting back on the court.

“Pretty much, I was fat,” Spellman told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution as the reason for his sporadic play. “I had to lose weight. That’s what allowed me to get back. That’s why I have been working as hard as I have and that’s why I haven’t been playing. Just to get me back right. Coming down and losing the weight that I have lost and being able to compete at the level I have been able off the court, helped me go out and compete tonight.”

There is still work to do but the forward/center is back, determined to get back in the good graces of his teammates and be a professional. 

Spellman got a starting assignment for the Hawks Sunday against the Bucks. It was his ninth start of the season, but first since he returned from a three-game stint in the G League earlier this month. He appeared in just two of the four games since his return and played a total of six minutes. Against the Bucks, Spellman shined with 13 points, including a career-high tying four 3-pointers, in 30 minutes. He had a career-high with four blocks, including a highlight worthy stop of Bucks’ star Giannis Antetokounmpo.

“It’s a very hard adjustment, just being a consummate professional,” Spellman said. “I wasn’t perfect starting out. I wasn’t always the best professional. It’s something that I’m working on. It’s something that the coaching staff and my teammates are helping me with every day. Hardest transition is just being a consummate professional at all times. That’s something I’m working toward and trying to get better at.

“That’s what I mean by being a professional. That’s unprofessional. I’ve just got to be better.”

Spellman said his weight got to as much as 293 pounds on his 6-foot-9 frame. He is down to 271 pounds now, a drop of 22 pounds. The Hawks officially list Spellman at 245 pounds.

There is more work to be done.

“I think we can all play a role and show him what it means to be a pro,” second-year forward John Collins said. “I think it’s a learning process for him and figuring out what he needs to do to stay in this league and stay on the senior squad. He can obviously come into games and contribute. I know it’s not the on-court stuff with him. The coaches have made that apparent to him and I think he’s doing a good job of tighten up. Hopefully, he sticks to it. That’s my guy and I want to see him do good.” 

The Hawks took Spellman with the 30th overall pick, their third first-round selection, last year coming off a national championship at Villanova. He is averaging 6.0 points and 4.1 rebounds in 26 games.

During his G League stint, Spellman averaged 16.3 points, 12.3 rebounds and 4.0 assists in 32.7 minutes.

Fellow first-round pick Trae Young understands the adjustment. He went through much of his during his season at Oklahoma when he garnered so much attention for leading the nation in scoring and assists.

“He said it perfectly,” Young said. “This is being a professional.”

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