How good are the Atlanta Hawks? Did they get better this offseason? Where do you expect them to finish in the Eastern Conference?
Added: Dejounte Murray, Maurice Harkless, Justin Holiday, Frank Kaminsky, Aaron Holiday, A.J. Griffin
Lost: Danilo Gallinari, Kevin Huerter, Delon Wright, Kevin Knox, Gorgui Dieng
It’s hard not to love adding Dejounte Murray for draft picks and Danilo Gallinari. I’m curious how Trae Young will adapt to less ball time after being the most ball-dominant player in the league in recent seasons. His father and others who saw him before his NBA career have lauded his off-ball abilities. I’ll need to see it. It’s strange to see John Collins back after the trade rumors of the past few years. He was reportedly done with Atlanta. Now he’s back and coming off a down season. Onyeka Okongwu and De’Andre Hunter are excellent young players and the foundation of a more defensive roster into the future. They’ll be better this year, maybe even above the play-in line, but some of Derrick White’s inconsistencies in Boston have me wondering how much Murray’s rise was a product of great Spurs coaching.
Vegas has them pegged at 46.5 wins. I figure that’s about right. Dejounte Murray is a huge addition as a do-it-all point guard, but that also means the ball in Trae Young’s hands less. I’d be surprised if they were hosting a play-in game in April.
Everything comes down to the Dejounte Murray fit. As a big, versatile guard with defensive chops, there’s potential for him to thrive as a co-star alongside Trae Young, covering up for the deficiencies in Young’s game. That said, the two guards are going to have to learn to coexist if this is going to work, as neither can be quite as ball-dominant as they’ve become accustomed to over the past few seasons. Overall, I still feel like the Hawks are one move away from being a real threat, but as-is, this team should be solidly very good, and land somewhere in the middle of the Eastern Conference playoff picture.
I’m begging Nate McMillan to play Trae Young off-ball a little more. They have a legitimate All-Star guard in Dejounte Murray next to him, and enough bigs on the team to functionally set off-ball screens while Trae whizzes around the floor. They lost a little bit of depth, but their top-6 is really good and playoff-caliber. They’ll finish somewhere between 6 and 9 in the East and likely win 45 games, which is a very good outcome, even if not a major improvement over last year.
The Hawks absolutely got better this offseason. Dejounte Murray is a great co-star for Trae Young, in my opinion, and he definitely elevates their defense. The John Collins situation is a bit weird, but is looks like he’s going to be on the roster again (despite being in trade rumors for the past two summers). Regardless, they should be fighting for the sixth seed, but the East is very tough.
The only way Atlanta gets a top-6 seed is if De’Andre Hunter makes an all-star caliber leap and Trey Young commits to playing off-ball. Otherwise, I don’t see this team making much noise, and their 2021 Eastern Conference Finals run will increasingly look like a fluke. Trey is outstanding and doesn’t get enough credit for being the unstoppable offensive force he is. But he doesn’t seem to make others better, and I think Dejounte Murray – who thrived last year playing with the ball – will have a tough time replicating his breakout 2021-2022 season. He’s not a spot up shooter, and will he really want to compete on defense after continually watching Trey jack up 30-footers? It’ll seem like a bad trade by January, and they may try to recoup draft capital by moving John Collins.