Antonius Cleveland was still rehabbing from ankle surgery when the Hawks signed him to a 10-day contract Feb. 22.
“We view him as a long-term play,” general manager Travis Schnlenk said at the time. “He’s got some upside. He’s got some work to do this summer.”
It turned out that Cleveland returned to play four games (42 minutes) for the Hawks, who eventually signed him to a non-guaranteed contract for next season. Cleveland played 13 games (81 minutes) with the Mavericks before suffering the ankle injury in December. That’s not enough of a sample size to get a good feel for Cleveland’s NBA potential, but his background suggests he can develop into a “3-and-D” wing.
Soon after Cleveland took the floor for the Hawks his length, athletic ability and defensive activity stood out. Cleveland produced 5.9 deflections per 48 minutes as a rookie, an excellent mark. He produced good rates of blocks and steals at Southeast Missouri State and could do the same in the NBA.
Cleveland was a prolific scorer in college with 20.2 points per 40 minutes, an effective field-goal percentage of 58.0 and 38.4 percent shooting on 3’s (28-for-73). Cleveland didn’t show the same scoring ability during 123 total minutes played as a rookie: 45.2 eFG percentage while taking only 21 shots and six free-throw attempts.
During the summer Cleveland will compete with at least one other Hawks wing on a non-guaranteed contract, Jaylen Morris.