The Atlanta Hawks currently sit in fifth place in the Eastern Conference standings. With a young core that is destined to be great, the Hawks’ outlook seems to be bright. They have also complemented their young players with solid veterans. Last season, the Hawks had a lot of salary cap space but going forward their cap situation provides less flexibility. Ultimately, they appear to be headed in the right direction after missing the playoffs the last three seasons.
Atlanta Hawks’ Outlook
The Hawks core of Trae Young, John Collins, and De’Andre Hunter are all former first-round picks currently on rookie deals. Young is the best player on the Hawks. The top-five selection in 2018 is averaging 25 points and 10 assists this season and is destined to be an MVP candidate one day. Collins is averaging 18 points and eight rebounds this season as he looks to enter restricted free agency this summer. After an up-and-down rookie season, Hunter broke out this year before going down with a knee injury. The sophomore out of Virginia is averaging 16 points per game on 50% shooting. With extensions for these players coming up in the next few seasons, the Hawks have decisions to make for who they should keep long term.
The Hawks main veteran players consist of Bogdan Bogdanovic, Danilo Gallinari, Lou Williams, and Clint Capela. Since being acquired from the Houston Rockets last season, Capela has been a beast. He is averaging 15 points, 14 rebounds, and two blocks per game as the starting center. Gallinari and Bogdanovic were both signed in free agency this offseason and while they both were underwhelming in the first half of the year due to injuries, they have picked up the slack as of late. Williams was recently acquired at the trade deadline for Rajon Rondo. His production has taken a dip from his sixth man of the year days but is still a great player to have coming off the bench. These veteran players are all very good but outside of Capela, their stats have declined due to their roles in the offense.
Salary Cap Situation
Amazingly, the Hawks only have four players making more than $10 million this year (Tony Snell, Capela, Bogdanovic, Gallinari). This is due to their core players still being on their rookie contracts which have allowed them to sign free agents other teams couldn’t afford. With Collins becoming an RFA this summer, Young qualifying for an extension soon, and Hunter breaking out, this situation gets more complicated. Trae Young for example is making 5% of the Hawk’s total salary cap. When he gets a max contract that number will jump up to over 30%. The Hawks will probably be over the cap and into the luxury tax soon unless they make some trades.
Hawks’ Outlook has Questions
The goal should be to surround Trae Young and John Collins with as much help as possible. General manager Travis Schlenk has so far done a good job of this with his free-agent signings. Being a playoff team this year has moved the Hawks in the right direction, but the key is getting them to that next level where they are a threat to win the East. Eventually, the Hawks will have to trade some of their other young players with upside and expensive veterans to find that third star next to Young and Collins. The Hawks should be calling Washington Wizards GM Tommy Sheppard to offer a package for Bradley Beal. It’s a move like that which will put the Hawks into the upper echelon of NBA teams. Even if they don’t make any moves, the Hawks’ outlook going forward is promising.
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