Mike Check

Michael Cunningham’s ramblings from the world of sports

Hawks player preview: Quinn Cook


The Hawks are set to begin training camp on Sept. 26. I'm previewing one player each day leading up to camp (in alphabetical order).

Quinn Cook

Position: PG

Height/Weight: 6-2, 179

Age: 24 (3/23/93)

2017-18 salary: $1.31 million

CARMELO projected value: N/A

How acquired: 2017 free agent

OFFENSE

Cook was a high-usage, high-scoring guard for two seasons in the D-League and did the same during the latest summer league. But Quinn knows that's not his role in the NBA.

“I put up a lot of big numbers in the D-League just because on my team I was the primary scorer,” Cook said. “But I’m a pass-first point guard who can make plays for others and when it’s time to make a play for myself, I can.”

In 188 minutes played (14 games) with the Mavericks and Pelicans last season Cook showed efficient scoring and passing ability. He posted a .583 effective field-goal percentage with 11 of 26 shooting on 3-pointers and compiled 6.2 assists per 100 possessions (albeit with 16 percent turnover percentage).

In Dallas, the main beneficiaries of Cook’s play-making were Harrison Barnes (12-for-20 shooting on passes from Cook) and Seth Curry (5-for-11). In New Orleans, it was Jordan Crawford (10-for-22, including 4-for-10 on 3-pointers).

Quinn shot 37.5 percent on 3-pointers at Duke with increasing accuracy and frequency over his four seasons. He made 85.3 percent of his free-throw attempts, evidence of a sound shooting stroke.

Quinn likely will have to maximize his shooting and passing abilities to have an offensive impact in the NBA because his relative lack of size and athletic ability will make it tough to score consistently around the basket in the halfcourt. Cook tested poorly at the 2015 combine and, according to Synergy Sports, he attempted only 91 shots inside the paint as a senior at Duke and made just 45 percent of them.

Cook did show the ability to score around the basket during his brief NBA stint. He was 12-for-29 on field-goal attempts less than 10 feet.

DEFENSE

My recollection of Cook from his Duke days was that he was a willing, tenacious on-the-ball defender. High defensive energy obviously is important for NBA role players, and Cook said he considers himself to be a “feisty” player on that end.

Last season in the NBA Cook didn’t produce much in the way of steals or rebounds and didn’t have any blocked shots. Quinn also didn’t produce much in those areas while playing 2,953 minutes  in the D-League.

Quinn’s relative lack of athleticism suggests he won’t provide much in the way of box score stats. His defensive value likely will come from being an energetic and solid team defender.

“Defensively, guarding the ball screen, that’s big in the NBA,” Quinn said. “Getting in there, getting loose balls, rebounds.”

OUTLOOK

At Duke, Cook was a steady four-year player lauded for his leadership and toughness while sharing the court with one-and-done draft picks Tyus Jones and Austin Rivers. Cook was the hot shooter and steadying hand during Duke's 2015 run to the national championship but he wasn't drafted as four of his teammates went on the NBA.

Cook wasn't drafted out of Duke and, as a fringe NBA player, has shown that he can score as a lead guard. Now he must prove he can be an effective reserve point guard in the NBA.

The Pelicans have plenty of guards on the roster, and they were looking to trim salary for luxury tax reasons, but it’s still somewhat surprising they waived Cook. Cook said he learned “how to be a true professional” from his NBA teammates and coaches in Dallas and New Orleans.

With the Hawks, Cook projects to be the third point guard behind Dennis Schroder and Malcolm Delaney.

“It’s a great opportunity,” Cook said. “I’m very excited, very fortunate, and very thankful for the Hawks giving me another chance to play in the NBA.

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About the Author

Michael Cunningham has covered the Hawks and other beats for the AJC since 2010. He is the author of the AJC’s Mike Check blog.