The Atlanta Hawks in 2020 did not have an amazing season. However, this was expected of a rebuilding team. This team organically rebuilt their makeup as a majority of their young core came through the draft. Their most notable pieces are of course the starting 5 as well as Cam Reddish off the bench. Clint Capela was acquired in that massive 4 team trade. Heading into this offseason they needed to improve a lot of positions. Mainly
- Point Guard Depth
- Perimeter Defense
- Power Forward/Centre Depth
- Bench Scoring
Let’s take a look at this year’s new lineup as of November 25, 2020
|PG||Trae Young||Rajon Rondo||Kris Dunn|
|SG||Kevin Huerter||Bogdan Bogdanovic|
|SF||De’Andre Hunter||Cam Reddish|
|PF||John Collins||Danilo Gallinari|
|C||Clint Capela||Onyeka Okongwu||Bruno Fernando|
Notable Players lost
- Jeff Teague (Signed Elsewhere)
- Deandre Bembry (Signed Elsewhere)
- Vince Carter (Retirement)
Notable Players Signed:
- Rajon Rondo 2 Year/$15 Million
- Bogdan Bogdanovic 4 Year/ $76 Million
- Danilo Gallinari 3 Year/$61.5 Million
- Onyeka Okongwu Drafted Rookie Contract
- Kris Dunn 2 Year/$10 Million.
- Point Guard Depth
Rajon Rondo is coming off another championship this time with the Los Angeles Lakers. Rondo was one of the most important pieces of the 2020 champion Los Angeles Lakers. Rondo provides that backup playmaker which Atlanta didn’t have until they traded for Teague. However, Rondo has shown that he is still a dangerous defender. Kris Dunn was signed solely for his defense. He is also an average playmaker. Although not an amazing scorer, this was an amazing signing by the Hawks to improve their perimeter defense.
- Perimeter Defense
While the Hawks didn’t really upgrade on wing defenders, the move to focus on the perimeter defense certainly sends a message to franchise star Trae Young that Atlanta is committed to building a winner at all costs. The moves to sign Dunn and Rondo also indicates to Hunter and Reddish that the Hawks will be taking some off the defensive responsibilities off of them, which is relieveing.
- Veteran Leadership
This was not a massive upgrade as the Hawks team is still relatively young, but the experience of Gallo will help the Hawks massively, and the leadership of Rondo is also something to never be taken for granted. It is one of his best qualities as a player, and will be vital as he mentors Trae Young.
- Bench Scoring
Last season the Hawks lacked a good amount of bench depth. The Hawks ranked 20th in bench scoring (per realgm basketball). The moves to sign Bogdan and Gallinari were huge signings. Gallinari is a near 20 PPG scorer, and Bogdan was a 15 PPG scorer. Even if they start, Huerter, and Collins are both reliable scorers in their own right. This bench depth will help solidify the throughout the season, and throughout the playoffs should the Hawks make it to the playoffs.
- Interior Defense
Onyeka Okongwu. Clint Capela. Interior forces. Atlanta didn’t have either of them at the beginning of last season. The Hawks had Bruno Fernando, and Damian Jones as the team’s centers.
What Went Wrong:
- Potential Shooting Woes
If the Hawks decide to run a small ball lineup with Onyeka at center, they should be fine. Collins is a 40% 3P shooter. However, should there be any injury woes, the lack of a stretch 4 in the depth chart will hurt the Hawks tremendously. The Forward-Center rotation of Okongwu, Gallo, and Capela is not a pretty sight for spacing. The Heat managed to make it work last year with Bam Adebayo, but he had Meyers Leonard and Kelly Olynyk backing him up. The Hawks have Bruno Fernando, and Solomon Hill backing them up. While Hill is coming off a 36% average from 3, he only shot 2 3PA per game. Let’s hope that a reliable stretch 4, or stretch 5 is signed.
- Monetary Management
I love the signings of Bogey and Gallo. However, I don’t like the cap situation. I believe we overpaid both of these players. $18 million a year is not terrible, but considering we are gonna have to extend Trae is gonna be brutal to our cap space in a couple off seasons. With the addition of both Gallo, and Onyeka I imagine that John Collins will be traded at the deadline. While this can bring us good value in return, this doesn’t help our cap space that much, but at least we are getting something in return. I highly doubt we trade away Gallo, but if we end up trading him to a team that has the cap space to take him, I could see the Hawks flipping him for cheaper assets. However, considering the Hawks are looking to compete this season I see this as a last resort should things go wrong.
My Concerns Heading into the Season:
The Reddish/Hunter Duo
- This duo will be a significant difference maker for the team. They have to solidify themselves as respectable perimeter defenders. Hunter had a great rookie season, but Reddish not so much. However, he did show promise in the month of March. If they can emulate these stretches again that would be super beneficial. However, if they go through a sophomore slump there would be more than just a crack in the armor. The perimeter defense would once again become a significant weakness. Furthermore, Reddish needs to improve his Shooting Splits, and Hunter may no longer need to step up offensively, but will need to step up defensively. Due to the youth of this duo, and the massive break I am slightly concerned about how this duo will perform.
- Onyeka At the PF or C?
Onyeka is a small center, but can also play at the PF. If the Hawks play him at the four and Capela at the five, that is a spacing nightmare. They are both easily exposed on the perimeter, and they aren’t reliable by any means offensively outside. I only see Onyeka coming off the bench as the 5. Once Collins leaves the team, which I strongly believe he will, Onyeka will probably come off the bench for Gallo, as again starting with Capela would hurt us significantly. However, if the Hawks decide to trade Capela, for a package that is centered around two way players, that could see Onyeka with increased minutes at the 5. This mainly concerns me because of the time off, and the lack of basketball that has been played for this young team.
I’ve mentioned this twice already, but the Hawks have gone a tremendous amount of time without playing basketball. Luckily there is a preseason, and there are other teams in this situation, but the extended rest with an unknown amount of offseason training could lead to various results. On the one side we could see an explosive team that goes on a tremendous run like the 8-0 Bubble Suns. On the other hand, we could see a young Hawks team that doesn’t look like a proper basketball team because of chemistry issues, and we could see a bubble Pelicans failure.
I am so excited for the Hawks team this season. There are a lot of intricate nuances in this team that could really elevate their play, and expectations. The moves of this offseason have shown a clear intention to all Hawks fans that their time is coming and this gives Trae Young a reason to make a career in Atlanta. Right now I have them finishing around the 7th/8th seed around the Pacers. My ceiling for them is a 6 game 1st round exit, and my floor is a 10th seed finish for them. The Hawks have a lot of movable assets, and a lot of offensively gifted talent that will bring a light towards them and their future.
Photo Credit: Chris Creamer