The Atlanta Hawks will be very fun to watch in 2021-22. After starting with a meager 14-20 record a season ago, they fired Lloyd Pierce and promoted Nate McMillan. Coaching the rest of the year on an interim basis, he got the team into the #5 seed and had them within two wins of taking the title.
Now, they come back with a bit of a revamped roster. It wasn’t a wild offseason, but they drafted well and shored up the depth chart. Let’s talk about the Hawks.
Atlanta Hawks Futures
TO WIN THE EAST: +1600 (5th)
TO WIN THE TITLE: +3500 (12th)
TO WIN THE SOUTHEAST: +125 (3RD)
Atlanta Hawks Key Offseason Moves
Checking the Hawks roster right now versus at the end of the season won’t show significant changes. And that’s the most important thing that happened. They were able to keep part of their core locked up.
John Collins inked a four-year extension, while Clint Capela signed for an additional two years, taking his current contract to the end of the 2024-25 campaign. Both of those guys were integral parts to the surprise playoff run last year and will be back to try and help the team do it once again.
They were part of a three-team deal with the Celtics and Kings, and for pretty much the price of end-of-bench guys, they were able to snag Delon Wright. He’s played well for a number of teams during the past several seasons. Wright will provide quality backup minutes at both guard spots for the Hawks.
They signed Gorgui Dieng to a contract, likely giving him the backup center role until Onyeka Okongwu is healthy again. He can space the floor and can also serve as a decent rim protector.
And lastly, they were able to agree to a new deal with Lou Williams. He doesn’t have to play a ton of minutes to make an impact and should be good with a smaller role this year. He was terrific at times in the postseason, and keeping him around is huge.
Can Trae Build off Playoff Success?
Playing in his first postseason a year ago, Trae Young absolutely went off. Across 16 starts, he averaged 29 points, three rebounds, nine-and-a-half assists, and better than one steal per game. There was not a team that was able to slow him down.
Sure, he had some poor shooting performances. But at the end of every game, he was still able to make the big plays. He was shooting something like 3-18 at one point in game seven versus Philly and was still able to hit the big ones down the stretch to lead his squad to the series upset.
He created a new rivalry between the Hawks and Knicks and even got his team a Christmas game for next season. But now, can Young do it again? He can put up big numbers any time. But can he get them back into a similar position to last year?
Young is more than capable of guiding a team to win after win. But let’s see how he does with all eyes on him from day one versus just in the postseason.
Depth is Key
At the end of the day, a team is only as good as the guys at the end of the bench. And for the Hawks, that means this is a special squad. So much so that there is still no defined role for Cam Reddish while everybody is healthy. DeAndre Hunter should come back healthy, as should Bogdan Bogdanovic.
Those three, along with Kevin Huerter, will comprise most of the perimeter minutes. The fact that they are so deep at the positions is telling that they have endless lineup options to put forth. And then they have Danilo Gallinari coming in to spell John Collins, which will just provide more firepower.
With Delon Wright and Lou Williams, they have two solid veteran guys to provide quality bench minutes. Each of them has had their share of dominant performances, and they should be able to mesh relatively well with one another.
Trae is likely to play in the ballpark of 33-35 minutes a night, and if the team can win the time that he’s off the floor, there is no reason they can’t sneak into the top four. Even in an extremely crowded conference.
The only thing that can get in the way for Atlanta would be a playoff hangover. This is usually reserved for teams that win a title, but it was just such a special run. If they can make sure to stay level-headed and stay hungry, nothing will stop them.
There is so much talent on this roster, and they smartly opted to retain the coach who took them to the conference finals a year ago. Beware of the Hawks, who might just be the biggest wildcard in the East. Don’t sleep on them.