Alex Poythress knows Lloyd Pierce.
So when the player took a phone call from the new Hawks head coach, there was no need to mince words.
“He gave me some real facts,” said Poythress, the forward who officially signed a two-way contract with the Hawks this week. “What to expect. What your role would be. No (b.s.). We are going to get after it, work hard and develop you as a player.”
Poythress played for Pierce, then an assistant with the 76ers, as a rookie in 2016-17 when he signed a 10-day contract late in the season. He appeared in six games and averaged 10.7 points, while shooting .463 from the field, and 4.8 rebounds in 26.2 minutes. He spent much of that season in the NBA G League, playing for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants after going undrafted following a four-year career at Kentucky. He was named a G League All-star and to the All-G League second team and All-Rookie team after averaging 18.5 points and 7.1 rebounds.
Poythress spent most of last season with the Pacers after his two-way contract was converted into an NBA deal in December. He appeared in 25 games but averaged just four minutes.
All Poythress wants is an opportunity. When it was pointed out that his numbers with the Pacers indicated he wasn’t afforded that chance, he said simply “facts.”
“I feel like I’m at the end of my (developmental stage),” Poythress told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I just want an opportunity to showcase my skills. In my first two years, I’ve had some opportunity here and there. I just want to find a place where I can get a consistent opportunity.”
It was been a circuitous route to the NBA for Poythress with much time spent in the G League. He said he wouldn’t change a thing.
A chance with the Hawks is somewhat of a homecoming for Poythress. He was born in Savannah and his father’s side of the family still resides in Carrollton. He mother’s side of the family is from Tennessee. He was named Tennessee’s Mr. Basketball following his senior year at Northeast High School in Clarksville and earned Parade and McDonald’s All-America honors.
The Hawks offer a chance with a young, rebuilding team. There are not a number of established players locked into spots.
“Energy,” Poythress begins a list of his assets. “Versatility. Defense, I can guard anything. Offense, spacing the floor. Attacking the basket. Stretching my game, I can hit 3’s now. Just trying to be more of a complete player.”
Poythress said he will remain in Atlanta for workouts before the starting of training camp next month.
“I know I can hang,” he said about his NBA prospects. “It’s all about getting an opportunity.
“We are all humbled and blessed to be where we are. I get to wake up and play basketball for a living. I have no complaints whatsoever. You are going to see a smile on my face.”