Needless to say, the Hawks had a great year last season as they made the conference finals. Now heading into the 2021-22 NBA Campaign the Hawks have kept the same team and added a few more pieces to their puzzle.
The formula to being competitive in the eastern conference is something the Hawks figured out and will be successful in doing so as Head Coach Nate McMillan will start the season as the permanent head coach. His team-oriented style easily is capable of being a top-four seed.
Here are four things the Hawks need to capitalize on to be successful:
1. Team Play
As much as this might sound cliche it has a lot of truth to it. Given the injuries and lineup changes last season, Atlanta has thrived off of team oriented basketball.
When nine guys on the roster average above 10 points a game that attests to what type of atmosphere this team portrays to the rest of the league. Another reason why we see guys like Solomon Hill, Skylar Mays, and Oneyka Okongwu be so successful.
If they have come out as they did in the second half of the season and playoffs they will be a tough team to compete with.
2. The Emergence of Trae Young
It’s no surprise that Young is a superstar and arguably the face of the Hawks. With that title comes a lot of responsibility. After a season he had last year more eyes will be on him than ever before. The critics will start to come out now that Atlanta will be on national tv more than once.
Young’s inconsistencies are worrisome as he has come out flat-footed at times shooting 25-36% from the field some nights. His shot selection is a bit immature at times where he either forces bad looks or shoots too early in the shot clock and doesn’t let the offense set up. These are normal critiques in any young and upcoming player to have.
On a more positive note, the most consistent part of his game is his passing. He never fails to get his teammates involved and when he goes cold from the field he puts an emphasis on getting his teammates open looks.
More importantly, this is the most confident and happy we’ve seen Young in his whole career as the team is filled with depth, and he’s comfortable with McMillan running the team. With Atlanta securing their young superstar for the long term this season will be crucial for him.
3. Overloaded Depth
A common theme for Atlanta’s success last season related to their depth. The team’s biggest issue is spreading out minutes with the amount of talent this roster perceives.
- Bogdan Bogdanovic became a huge threat from three and at times led the Hawks in scoring when Collins, and Young were absent from the rotation. His ability to shoot off the dribble and create for himself is something that Atlanta was lacking for a long time.
- Cam Reddish was out for the majority of the season this past year but made a return in the conference finals. We saw the reason the Hawks drafted him as he went for 21 points on 6/7 shooting from three in game 4 of the conference finals against the Bucks. Needless to say the biggest reason for his struggles came under Coach Lloyd Pierce as he was putting Reddish in uncomfortable situations on the court. He seems very happy under McMillan.
- Kevin Huerter is another guy who can go for 20 whenever his number is called. A great spot up shooter added to an already deep lineup. Huerter is constantly fighting for his starting role as he’s been in and out of the starting lineup on a game to game basis. He’s been inconsistent at times but really came alive during the Philadelphia series.
- Lou Williams almost retired from the NBA but ended becoming a huge factor for the Hawks. A key addition to the second line has matured this franchise into a playoff contending team. We all know what Lou can do!
- Lastly, Clint Capela fills so many holes the Hawks saw a few years ago and is playing like an All Star. His attentiveness of the defensive end of the ball is very rare and a guy with his resume is extremely hard to find. Only other guy I can relate to is Rudy Gobert. Led the league in rebounding this past season and is a shit blocking maniac!
4. The Backbone John Collins
Securing Collins is a huge dub for the Hawks as the glue guy of the squad is back. The morale runs through Collins and his loyalty to the franchise is an amazing trait he displays. Averaging 17.4 ppg and 7.4 rpg you’d think is a bit low for a guy like him but he’s an example of “numbers aren’t everything”.
Night after night Collins shows how versatile of a player he is and will go for 30 and 15 if the ball goes in his direction. Despite the beef between him and Young earlier in the season, we might see a more aggressive Collins heading into this season. As much of their beef was centered around Coach Pierce.
To sum everything up the Hawks can easily be a top-four team in the Eastern Conference. With McMillan leading the way, and the roster getting even deeper with draft picks Jalen Johnson and Shariffe Cooper; The expectations are at an all-time high.