Two seasons ago, the Hawks were the surprise of the NBA. Atlanta made it all the way to Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals behind Trae Young, who averaged nearly 30 points and 10 assists over that stretch. If it wasn’t for an untimely injury to Young, who knows what could’ve happened.
Behind their superstar point guard, the team was primed to make another run at the Finals the following season; however, it went about as poorly as one could’ve imagined. The Hawks were dismantled by the Heat in the first round of the playoffs and looked nothing like the team that made it within a couple of games of the Finals.
The Hawks are wrapping up the offseason as they head towards a new era in Atlanta. The club made one of the biggest trades in franchise history by acquiring Dejounte Murray from the Spurs in exchange for Danilo Gallinari and multiple first-round picks. The Hawks also parted ways with Kevin Huerter in a deal that brought Justin Holiday and Mo Harkless to Atlanta.
The team currently has 14 players under full contracts for this season, with Tyrese Martin being the latest addition after impressing the staff during the Summer League. Sharife Cooper and Chaundee Brown will likely sign two-way contracts as both develop with the College Park Skyhawks. So, with the roster solidified, is it a championship-caliber group?
Here is how the depth chart will likely shake out:
|Trae Young||Dejounte Murray||De’Andre Hunter||John Collins||Clint Capela|
|Aaron Holiday||Bogdan Bogdanovic||Justin Holiday||Mo Harkless||Onyeka Okongwu|
|Tyrese Martin||AJ Griffin||Jalen Johnson||Frank Kaminsky|
Going off last season, this group isn’t going to win a championship. Adding Murray should do wonders for the Hawks defense and offense when Trae Young is off the court. Still, without significant contributions from De’Andre Hunter and John Collins, they’ll be a playoff-caliber team, not Finals-worthy.
The Hawks could be perennial contenders if Hunter finds consistency and other youngsters take steps forward. The development of Jalen Johnson, AJ Griffin, and Onyeka Okongwu will be crucial for a team that doesn’t have the most robust depth.
Atlanta will also have to work out the kinks with having two ball-dominant guards in Young and Murray. The Hawks have a ton of question marks this season. Can John Collins contribute significantly as the team’s third option? Can De’Andre Hunter finally be consistent? Will Onyeka Okongwu take the next step forward? Can Bogdan Bogdanovic stay healthy? Will the offseason additions improve the team’s defense?
There are many factors to consider when discussing a potential championship run. At this point, the Hawks are probably one player away from being in the conversation with the Bucks and Celtics. However, if Murray and Young impress, other players around the Association will consider Atlanta as a free agency destination, taking them over the top.
Photo: Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire