Scott’s ball-handling development included trip to Germany

The player-development arm of the Hawks has quite a reach.

Consider the connection among forward Mike Scott, assistant coach Darvin Ham and German instructor Paul Gudde.

Ham, then an NBA player with the Bucks, went to Germany in 2000 to take part in a youth basketball camp, Schloss Hagerhof. He enjoyed his time there so much he has been back 13 of the past 15 years, long after his playing days were over. Back in that summer of 2000, Ham instructed a young camper. It was none other than Gudde. The youngster would become a streetball legend in Germany and eventually turn his attention to instructing players in the art of ball-handling.

Fast forward 15 years. Ham encouraged Scott to help with the camp this summer as a way to immerse himself in another culture. While he was in Germany, near Bonn, for the two-week camp, Scott connected with Gudde for workouts to improve his ball-handling.

“A great experience,” Scott said. “It helped my game out. I came back here and have kept working on it. … I wanted to start from the basics, regular ball-handling drills and progress from there.”

Scott is coming off a disappointing season and wanted to continue his development. While Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said Scott had a tendency to dribble too much, there is importance in being able to dribble the right way at the right time. Ham put it this way: “If you have to dribble more than two times and you are not a point guard, chances are you need to pass the ball.”

Specifically to the 6-foot-8 Scott, the Hawks want him to be comfortable with the ball, be able to explore all options, move to open shots on the floor and get teammates involved in a play.

“People get caught up in the flashiness of ball-handling sometimes,” Ham said. “All we need you do to is not turn it over and to make a good basketball play, which is a read for one of your teammates or to get yourself to an open shot or layup. Real simple-sounding.

“It’s an efficiency of ball-handling that we want Mike to be able to do. Limited dribbles. If he finds himself in a pick-and-roll situation, and he is handling (the ball), to be able to not turn it over, be strong in his handle and be able to make a play for a teammate.”

Improved ball-handling skills would be a step should the Hawks want to move Scott from power forward to small forward on occasion. “If we ever want to explore that — which I think we may — he’ll be comfortable,” Ham said.

Last season, Scott’s scoring average dropped to 7.8 points per game from the 9.6 he averaged in his second season. He shot 34.4 percent from 3-point range last season, but struggled during the playoffs, when he made 4 of 26 long-range attempts.

During the preseason, Scott has averaged 4.7 points and 4.0 rebounds in 14 minutes through three exhibition games. He is also still dealing with his arrest this summer on drug charges with an initial court date pending.

It’s a big season coming for Scott. He will make $3.3 million this season, and the Hawks hold a team option for another $3.3 million next season.

Scott saw the trip as a chance to improve his versatility. Ham saw a chance for personal growth. Budenholzer said he likes a big man who can handle the ball when the time is right.

“I thought it was a good fit,” Ham said.

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