The Atlanta Hawks made a splash in Free Agency, signaling to the NBA they are ready to compete. Danilo Gallinari (three years, $61.5-million), Rajon Rondo (two years, $15-million), and Bogdan Bogdanovic (four years, $72-million) arrive to help superstar Trae Young make the post-season. Shot creation was a huge area of need for the Hawks whose offense struggled mightily when Young sat. Gallinari and Bogdanovic can carry an offense in stretches. Additionally, Rondo is one of the best floor generals in the NBA.
General Manager Travis Schlenk was under some pressure to upgrade the team’s roster from his young superstar. On numerous occasions, Young expressed his disdain for losing and urged his club to deviate from a seemingly endless rebuild. Schlenk has appeased the star’s request, surrounding him with high-level veteran talents. The All-Star averaged 29.6 points, 9.3 assists, 4.3 rebounds on 43.7 percent shooting, and 36.1 percent from three last year.
Atlanta is looking to improve on its 20-47 record last season and is now positioned to compete for the playoffs.
Defense remains the biggest question mark heading into the season. Last year, Atlanta was one of the worst defensive teams in the entire NBA.
Last season, Atlanta ranked:
22nd in opponent three-point percentage (36.4)
27th in opponent shooting percentage (47.4)
28th in defensive rating (114.4)
29th in opponent second chance points (15.5)
30th in points allowed (119.7)
30th in opponent PIP (53.6) pic.twitter.com/raBc2wu3hX
— THUNDER MONEYBALL (@geola388) November 25, 2020
Clint Capela’s return is likely to help given the big man’s skills are primarily on the defensive end. He was having a career year for the Houston Rockets averaging 13.9 points, 13.8 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks before being traded. The Hawks also added guard Kris Dunn, a defensive ace known for his quick hands and excellent defensive instincts.
The Hawks will be banking on the development of wings Cam Reddish and De’Andre Hunter. Perimeter defense was rough for the duo but a year under their belts will help. Both are very raw. They will need time to develop into respectable NBA players.
One of the deepest teams in the Association is Atlanta. Every position is loaded for the Hawks. However, one position of interest is Power Forward. John Collins is a young, upcoming big man who can do everything on the offensive end. He is an excellent shooter from the perimeter, a great rebounder, and is a superb finisher at the rim. However, Collins isn’t a great passer or shot creator. Also, he struggles immensely on the defensive side of the ball.
The acquisition of Gallinari at top dollar raised questions about Collins’ future. ESPN’s Zach Lowe questioned what the Hawks’ intentions are now that their frontcourt is crowded.
Hawks have now traded for Clint Capela, drafted Onyeka Okongwu, and signed (as had been rumored/expected) Gallinari. They played Hunter a fair bit at PF last season. A lot of other teams are wondering what this all means for John Collins. https://t.co/KNrBMZYhhk
— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) November 21, 2020
These days, Gallinari is a power forward and can no longer keep with small forwards in today’s game. DeAndre Hunter played a chunk of minutes at the power forward position last year, with the Hawks trying to use him as a small-ball big. Last but not least, Atlanta used its first-round pick on defensive forward Onyeka Okongwu. The 19-year-old is a hybrid big man with outstanding defensive instincts and is the opposite of what Collins brings to the floor.
Only time will tell if this is something or nothing but these moves indicate that a trade might be on the horizon.
Overall, the Hawks had a fantastic free agency and are set to throw down in the Eastern Conference. GM Schlenct deserves props for the moves he made, adhering to his star’s request to compete. This is an interesting season for Atlanta who has a number of contract extensions on the way.
Adding veterans on multi-year deals is a nice way to soften the blow if the team elects to move on.
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