It’s no secret to Atlanta fans, and the rest of the NBA community, that the Hawks are in the midst of a monumental rebuild. Coming off a season where they compiled a 24-58 record, and finishing the year in last place in the Eastern Conference, their focus is still on a few years down the road.
Knowing your team is not going to compete going into the season can be tough, but stay strong Hawk fans, there is a method to this madness. Here are a few potential bright spots to look forward to in 2018-2019
A Potential Star
It was a risky move, but selecting Trae Young early in the 2018 NBA Draft was a chance the Hawks needed to take. The franchise simply hasn’t had one standout, superstar player on its roster in quite some time, and Young has the potential to change that.
Fans have expressed their disgruntled opinions on the move, especially with Young’s early struggles in Summer League, but the kid is still 20 years old and has shown glimpses of superstar potential.
Trae Young isn’t going to come out and immediately be an All-Star, but silencing his many critics will be the most intriguing storyline on this Hawks team in the early season.
Strong Veteran Leadership Presence
Atlanta had an average age of just over 25 after the 2018 Trade Deadline, making them a pretty young team by most standards, which is why the club decided to make a few deals in the offseason to bring in some talented vets.
It’s impossible to talk about the Hawks’ offseason without bringing up the acquisition of the future Hall of Famer, Vince Carter. The 41-year-old superstar has proved he still has game despite being the oldest player in the league, and undoubtedly brings a lot of experience and leadership to a team in desperate need of it.
As if bringing in “Vinsanity” wasn’t enough, Atlanta also added “Linsanity” in a trade with a Brooklyn Nets. The move to acquire Lin foreshadowed the eventual trade of Dennis Schroder to the Thunder.
Lin has established himself as a solid player in the league, not necessarily maintaining the superstar level of play he achieved during Linsanity’s peak. Nonetheless, he is a necessary addition to a group of young guards. He is expected to split time with the rookie Trae Young, which should help Young learn and progress a tad bit faster than he might have competing with Dennis Schroder for the job.
A Youthful Core
Beyond the new vets on the roster lies the secret to the Hawks rebuild, a budding young core. Trae Young may be the new, flashy headliner everyone is focused on, but he’s just one of the many Hawks to be excited about.
The aforementioned veterans can work alongside the up and comers like second-year big man John Collins, who might be the best player on the team this season. Collins, along with Taurean Prince, showed bits and pieces of their potential last season and will be expected to produce a lot more as leaders on the starting unit. Off the bench, you have guys like Tyler Dorsey and De’Andre Bembry itching to take the next step as they see a more increased role.
Although some fans wanted to the Hawks to bring in a big name free agent in the 2018 offseason, the club has shown its focus is on the long haul. Atlanta’s primary concern now, and likely for the next few years, is the overall development of their young talent that will hopefully bring them back into contention.
New Coach, New Look, and New Opportunity
After one of the worst seasons in franchise history, the Hawks had to part ways with Mike Budenholzer, who coached the team for five years. After an extensive search, the team hired former Philadelphia Assistant Coach Lloyd Pierce.
Pierce felt like an optimal fit for the job in Atlanta, largely because of his role in the rebuilding of the 76ers franchise. Bringing the Hawks back into the picture won’t be an easy task, and frankly, it may take longer than some people like. It’s going to take a coach with the right amount of patience to make this work, something Pierce has exemplified throughout his young coaching career.
There’s Only One Way to Go Now
The latest NBA Preseason Power Rankings have the Hawks listed at 29th, which is next to last in the entire league. Expectations for the team are at an all-time low and coming off an abysmal year, it really can’t get any worse.
Yes, it is possible the Hawks finish the year as bad, or worse than they did last season, but that may not be as likely as some people think. The team is focused on a rebuild, that’s obvious, but the combination of young talent alongside new and experienced vets may prove to be a small recipe for a bit of success this season.
It’s unrealistic to expect the Hawks to be competing at a consistently high level in 2018-19, but this young squad brings a few things to the table, and they are only going to get better as time goes along.
So buckle up, and enjoy the little things, because it’s going to be a long ride.