In my lifetime, I don’t think there’s been a more anticipated Atlanta Hawks team. You might have to go all the way back until Dominique Wilkins was donning a Hawks uniform to find an Atlanta basketball team with higher expectations than this year’s squad. Two years removed from the Eastern Conference Finals, the Hawks made some statement moves this offseason, beginning with the acquisition of All-Star guard Dejounte Murray, who came as advertised in his first appearance as a Hawks.
Murray finished the night doing a little bit of everything, scoring 21 points, dishing out 11 dimes, and grabbing five boards. But perhaps even more impressively, he had zero turnovers and was a menace on the defensive end with five steals that led to several easy transition opportunities. The offense he’ll bring to the team is great, but it’s his defense that might end up having the more substantial impact when it’s all said and done.
Trae Young also did his thing, ending the night with 23 points and 13 assists. It wasn’t his most efficient shooting night, but he was the floor general the Hawks needed him to be. And combined with Murray, the two Hawks made history, becoming the first pair of teammates ever to both have 20+ points and 10+ assists in their first game together.
Trae Young & Dejounte Murray are the first pair of teammates in NBA HISTORY, to both record 20+ pts and 10+ assists in their debut together
— 🏀Hawks Fan TV (@HawksFanTV) October 20, 2022
It’s only the lowly Rockets, but for all the talk about potential chemistry issues between Young and Murray, there was none of that on Opening Night.
The star guard duo weren’t the only two Hawks to show up to the arena, though. John Collins was brilliant, pacing the team in scoring with 24 points on 9-12 shooting. He also added eight rebounds. De’Andre Hunter reached the 20-point mark as well on an efficient 10-15 from the field in his first game since signing a lucrative four-year, $95 million extension. Onyeka Okongwu also added 13 points and nine rebounds off the bench.
Overall, the Hawks core was spectacular on Opening Night. If they play like that, they are going to win a lot of games, especially when Bogdan Bogdanovic returns from injury. This team very well may be one or two tweaks away from once again making some loud noise in the Eastern Conference.
Photo: Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire