ESPN also recognizes the Hawks as one of the best NBA teams entering the 2021-2022 season

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With the 2020-2021 NBA season officially in the books, it’s already time to start looking at next season. Last week, Bleacher Report and ESPN each released their first edition of power rankings for 2021-2022. I already talked about the respect Bleacher Report gave the Hawks, ranking them fourth, behind only the Bucks, Nets, and Jazz. ESPN wasn’t quite as bullish on Atlanta, but they still had them well inside the top ten, clocking in at #8. Here was their reasoning:

The Hawks shocked just about everyone outside of Atlanta with their run to the conference finals, and they might have made it even further had Trae Young not injured his ankle by stepping on an official’s foot. Young’s impressive performance in the playoffs (28.8 points, 9.5 assists) showed he could carry a team when it matters. But will his team look the same next season? John Collins‘ status as a restricted free agent could mean Young will be without one of his favorite targets. But with Young’s play and Nate McMillan’s interim tag being lifted, there’s still plenty of optimism moving forward.

The seven teams ahead of the Hawks were the Bucks, Nets, Suns, Lakers, 76ers, Jazz, and Nuggets. I probably would have had Atlanta a little higher, but I’m biased. What I will say is, out of all the teams ahead of the Hawks, Atlanta has the most room for growth. They still have a ton of talent that has not even scratched the surface of their potential, and Travis Schlenk has done a masterful job at maintaining flexibility so they can make moves they see fit in the offseason. That’s a scary proposition for the rest of the teams in the Eastern Conference.

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