2020-21 NBA SEASON PREVIEW: ATLANTA HAWKS
Predicted finish: 10th in the East (4th in the Southeast, 21st in the power rankings)
Last seasons conference finish: 14th in the East
I’m not as high on the Atlanta Hawks and the reason is pretty simple, they have too many players. Right now they have 11 guys minimum who are going to expect major roles on this team. Guys like Kevin Huerter, Deandre Hunter and Cam Reddish aren’t going to take well to like nine minutes a game. The only saving grace of the backlog of guys is eventually someone will get hurt and shorten the rotation. That said, on a team with Trae Young and John Collins who each want a ton of shots, Danilo Gallinari who is going to need some and Bogdan Bogdanovic, quickly you get down the rotation without many shots available. Even if this does work and the team makes the six or seven seed, at what cost to the younger guys who still need development will it be? How many minutes are there on a team with Clint Capela, Gallinari and Collins for young players like Hunter and Onyeka Okongwu. I get what they’re doing, I really do but I’m worried that even if chemistry isn’t sacrificed, guys development will be.
The big question for the franchise: Can these guys all play together?
With this many guys who are going to come in expecting minutes and shots, Lloyd Pierce has a tough road ahead of him. This isn’t 2K where the game just generates the rotation for an ideal simulation, Pierce has to craft it to suit the personalities, demands and skillsets to maximize this team. For example, a guy like Bogdanovic isn’t coming to Atlanta to be a fourth option in his NBA prime, he’ll be there to have the ball a lot. Does that mean running him more when Young is off the floor or maybe they can play off each other well. What about Collins and Gallinari though? And are Huerter and Rondo just going to sit in the corner now? This is what Pierce has to finesse with this roster, toeing the line between maximization of skill and happiness. It’s going to be tough and I’m fascinated to see it play out.
One move I want to see them make: Get Young off the ball more
Since this team made all the offseason moves ever, I thought for here I’d chuck in what I want to see in how they play. For this, I really want to see them maximize Young’s skill set by letting him run off the ball more around screens, similar to what Stephen Curry and Damian Lillard do at times for their teams. To maximize Young’s gravity, keeping him moving and active off the ball would be a great way to enhance him whilst also giving the other players on your roster a chance to handle. With so many players on this team who can play make even a bit, this feels like a no brainer and an easy way to enhance Young further.
Offseason Grade: B
I know everyone wants to give them an A but too much is a thing as well and for that I’m concerned. This team needs to play and show me it isn’t ruining the growth of its young players just for the eight seed because that’s what it feels like right now. It has a chance to work but I’ll remain skeptical of grading it higher until it does.
Young player I’m excited for: Cam Reddish
Reddish showed real signs of coming around last season and is definitely the player on this team I’m most worried about being stunted. He needs reps and minutes so we can see what he becomes because there’s something here. His talent and athletic gifts are immense, his ability to get to the rim is impressive, he just really needs to learn how to finish and shoot better which only comes from time and reps. Here’s to hoping he gets enough.
If this team isn’t in the 7-10 play in at the very least it’ll be a massive disappointment. If Young continues to improve and their new additions buy in this team could be a ton of fun. However, I’ll remain hesitant to buy in until I see how the chemistry, rotation and shots work. Until then, I’ll probably be lower on them than most.
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