The Hawks have quietly positioned themselves as one of the best up and coming teams in the league. Despite what their record may indicate, the Hawks were incredibly fun to watch last year, and showed consistent growth throughout the season. They had a solid draft, picking up two wings in the top 10 in De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish. The Hawks are an incredibly young team that’s still growing, so it’s likely that just like last year, they’ll grow and evolve throughout the season. They honestly might have too much young talent, especially at the 2 and the 3, so seeing which prospect’s talent they decide to prioritize will be interesting. The Hawks enter the season with modest expectations, but they still have questions to be answered.
|Point Guard PG|
|Shooting Guard SG|
|Small Forward SF|
|Power Forward PF|
|Point Guard PG||
|Shooting Guard SG||
|Small Forward SF||
|Power Forward PF||
The Hawks appear to be set for the future at 3 positions, with the center position uncertain (more on that later). They have Trae Young at point guard, Kevin Huerter at shooting guard, and John Collins at power forward. One position that doesn’t appear to be set in stone, however, is small forward. The Hawks traded away their starting small forward Taurean Prince for a first-round pick and guard Allen Crabbe. Crabbe is a solid player who might start at small forward to start the season, but he isn’t the long-term answer. The Hawks drafted two players, De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish, in the top 10 that are likely to compete at the small forward position. They both have the adequate size at small forward and are solid fits in the Hawks system. Hunter was drafted first, so it may seem that the Hawks prioritize him, but many people believe Reddish has more potential. Which forward gets the start should be an interesting storyline to watch over the season.
Despite being drafted 5th overall in 2013, Alex Len has disappointed for much of his career. Being stuck in Phoenix for the first 5 years of his career didn’t help at all, and it seemed like he’d be destined to be a bust. However, an interesting development occurred when he signed with the Hawks, as he ended up posting career best scoring numbers and ended up becoming the Hawks starting center at the end of the season. Even if he’s been in the league for 6 seasons, he’s still just 26, so his age isn’t really an issue. The bigger question is whether he can be the Hawks starting center of the future. Part of what made his first year in Atlanta so successful was the development of his 3-point shot, as he started to let it fly from deep and hit at a respectable rate. He never got the chance to shoot in Phoenix, so the fact that he improved so much in just his first year on the team is encouraging. Conversely, he’s never had sustained success so this could end up being a one-year mirage. The Hawks will likely use the regular season to determine whether he’s the center of the future for this team.
Is this a starting lineup that could conceivably make a run at the playoffs? In the west, the answer would be a definitive no, but in the shallow East, it’s possible. The Hawks are incredibly young and young teams are often hard to predict, but the potential is certainly there. Of course, there’s a difference between potential and actuality, but in a weak conference and even weaker division, they may not have to be they best versions of themselves to sneak in the playoffs. There’s a lot of similarities to the Nets here, and there’s a decent chance they undergo a Nets like breakthrough where everything clicks, all the young pieces develop, and they sneak into the playoffs. The Hawks were an incredibly fun team to watch, but this year they have a chance to be good as well. It starts with their leader Trae Young, as the starting lineup will probably be as good as he is. Nothing’s certain for the Hawks season, and in a way, that makes it more exciting.