Tavares making strides -- to delight of teammates

Last year, Edy Tavares watched Hawks players such as Al Horford and Kent Bazemore on television.

Now, they are cheering him on.

Tavares has played some effective minutes for the Hawks in two exhibition games – much to the delight of teammates.

“It was nice,” Tavares said Saturday of the reaction of players.

Tavares played in Spain last season after the Hawks selected him in the second round of the draft. This year he is getting a chance to play in the NBA. Tavares is averaging 9.5 points and five rebounds in 11 minutes of playing time in wins over the Cavaliers and Pelicans. The 7-foot-3 center is a combined 8 of 10 from the field. He also had two steals, a block and an assist. Several of his plays brought the Hawks’ bench to its feet.

Much of Tavares’ playing time has come late in games against second and third units. Still, he’s shown improvement in the step up in competition from his two stints with the Hawks in summer league. Tavares said is getting a greater understanding of the Hawks’ system, especially defensively.

“We are pleased with the progress that he is showing, his understanding,” coach Mike Budenholzer said. “Defensively, he’s made a lot of good plays with his hands, his activity and his length have been very good. Offensively, (he’s) putting pressure on the rim going to the basket. You can throw it up there and he goes gets it. He’s gotten to the foul line quite a bit. He’s given us more pressure on the rim, which is important to us.”