He might not be the most familiar name to the casual NBA fan and I’m sure he isn’t the first name on opposition scouting reports, but Mike Scott has built an impressive career for himself to date. Taken as a second-round pick from the University of Virginia, Scott has worked hard on his game and now appears to be reaping the rewards. He is one of three men from the 2012 draft playing for the Hawks, with John Jenkins and Jared Cunningham both being picked in the first round. In spite of those two being picked 20 spots before him, it’s Scott who has developed the quickest. A draft that, at the time, was considered in some quarters to be weak has proven otherwise, with second-round picks like Draymond Green, Khris Middleton, Jeff Taylor and indeed, Scott, all likely to be rotation players for the long haul in the NBA.
Scott’s recent play has been a long way from a run of the mill backup though. He has great confidence in his own ability and his aggressiveness on offense makes him a constant threat. Part of the reason he has proven poised and more NBA ready than many others from his draft class comes from his college days. Scott spent five years as a Virginia Cavalier, having been granted an extra years exemption due to a season missed through injury. This allowed Scott extra time, not only, to work on his game, but more importantly to mature. Having given solid production in his first three years of play, coming back from injury Scott stood out. He averaged 18 points and 8.3 rebounds, while leading the ACC in field goal percentage at 56.3 percent, to earn his ticket to the NBA.
Although the most obvious benefactors in terms of playing time from Al Horford‘s injury are centers Pero Antic and Elton Brand, Scott has also seen a bump in his minutes. Since Horford went down, Scott has seen his minutes rise from 13.4 to 20.8 per game, giving him his greatest opportunity to date to show what he’s capable of. He hasn’t shirked under the extra responsibility either. He has gone from averaging 6.8 points and 2.9 boards, to 12.0 points and 4.3 rebounds since his minutes increased.
For someone who doesn’t shy away from taking shots, he’s quite efficient too. He’s currently shooting 48.1 percent from the field for the season, only trailing the injured Horford, veteran Elton Brand and sharpshooter Kyle Korver on the Hawks roster. Another weapon to his game is his ability to mix things up offensively. He can be an explosive dunker, best highlighted by his recent display against the Rockets. Houston got out to an 11-0 lead, before Scott was introduced. Scott single handedly dragged Atlanta back into the game early on, and by the time the clock reached the eight minute mark in the second quarter, Scott had 12 points, including four thunderous dunks. Another developing offensive skill is his much improved 3-point shot. When he first joined up with the Hawks, Scott offered very little from behind the arc, but in the time since he has practiced to change that. Now he shoots 31.2 percent from deep and has already made 24 triples this season.
By extending his range, there are now very few places on the floor that Mike Scott can’t score the ball from. Taking a look at his shot chart so far this season, Scott shoots at league average or above in all but one of the zones within the arc. His touch on long twos is particularly eye catching, and combined with the ability to get to the rim, and a reliable free throw, makes him an incredibly versatile offensive threat.
So, for anyone who hasn’t yet been paying attention to Mike Scott, it might be a good time to start. And with DeMarre Carroll at home due to the birth of his daughter, don’t be surprised if he gets the start and puts on a show against the Nets in London Thursday.