The Hawks’ offseason was dominated by the arrival of Dwight Howard. The Atlanta native has looked like a shell of his former self in recent years, and all eyes will be on him as he attempts to fill the void left by Al Hortford in his hometown. Though Howard hopefully brings the ability to protect the rim, occupy the paint and finish around the basket, he may not be the most important acquisition the Hawks made this offseason. Veteran guard Jarrett Jack will be called on to play a huge role for this team both on and off the court.
With Jeff Teague packing his bags for Indiana, the backcourt for this Hawks team has many question marks. Dennis Schroder finally gets his chance to replace Teague in the starting lineup alongside Kyle Korver. Which leaves the backup backcourt with Jack, former European league standout Malcolm Delaney, and Tim Hardaway Jr.
Jack should be put back into a 6th man type role, a spot where he’s thrived throughout his career. With his unique skill set, he will give the Hawks options with their young backcourt. Jack can come in to relieve Schroder, or even play alongside him on the floor. The plan should fit well for Jack, but it may not get a chance to unfold the way Hawks fans hope.
Jack’s performance on the court depends heavily on how he recovers from a season-ending ACL tear. Before his injury, Jack was carrying a heavy load for Brooklyn. He started in all 32 games that he appeared, and was putting up career highs in rebounds and assists.
Those numbers are a little skewed however due to his relatively high usage rate. He struggled around the rim while shooting just 39% from the field, and seemed to be a step slower than his competition on all levels. Most worry how the soon to be 33-year-old Jack and his knees will hold up.
Perhaps the biggest role for Jack will occur off the court. Dennis Schroder is a young point guard with tremendous talent, but has struggled at times with consistency and maintaining his composure. Jack’s presence could give Schroder, and new NBA player Malcolm Delaney a solid veteran presence to guide them. Even though Jack is far from a future hall of fame type player, he still has a lot to teach, and a history of influencing superstars.
"The leader I learned from the most? Probably Jarrett Jack has a big influence when he was here." Former MVP Steph Curry gave that quote.
Jack played as Curry’s backup in Golden State during the 2012 season. This was arguably Jack’s best year of his career, and was even voted third for the 6th Man of the Year Award. His influence on Curry was obviously substantial while playing behind him, and perhaps he can have a similar impact on Schroder.
Being technically “replaced” by Jeremy Lin with the Nets has definitely left a chip on Jack’s shoulder. In a system that requires crisp ball movement and floor spacing, he should fit in nicely if the injury proves to be unsubstantial. Even if his return on the court is a disappointment, his impact will be seen in the morale of the team and in the development of two young point guards. Jarrett Jack could be the hidden gem for this new look Atlanta Hawks roster.