The Hawks followed up their best performance of the season on Monday night against the Bucks, ending Milwaukee’s undefeated season, with one of their worst performances Wednesday against the Jazz, who have been the surprise of the NBA so far this year. Still, Atlanta sits at a healthy 7-4 after 11 games — pretty good considering they’ve been without Bogdan Bogdanovic, and it’s a lot of these players first time playing with each other. Here are my takeaways — both good and bad — from this new-look Hawks squad after 11 games.
Dejounte Murray is a Game-Changer
Every Hawks fan was giddy to see Murray in his new threads, and there’s no question about it; he’s even better than I thought he would be. The sample size remains small, but he’s on his way to another All-Star campaign, and hell, he might just be the best player on the team. Murray brings it on both ends of the floor, averaging 22.6 points, 8.1 assists, and 6.5 rebounds a night to go along with 2.3 steals. There’s always the possibility he could regress a little bit, given these are the best numbers of his career, but there’s also the possibility that playing with more talent around him is only elevating his game. Murray is the kind of player the Hawks desperately needed.
Trae Young is off his game, but there is no reason to panic
On the other end of the spectrum, Trae Young hasn’t quite adjusted to his new role. He’s playing off ball more, which may be why he seems to be forcing the issue once he gets the ball in his hands. Young is currently last in the NBA in field-goal percentage among players with at least 150 attempts.
Trae Young is shooting 37.8% this season.
The worst in the NBA among players with at least 150 attempts. pic.twitter.com/u4u2150GjE
— StatMuse (@statmuse) November 10, 2022
Everyone knows Young can score in bunches, but hopefully, he reels it back in a tad and realizes that he’s an even better passer than he is a scorer. Especially when Bogi returns, this will be the most talent he’s ever had around him. The Hawks don’t need 30 points a game from anybody this year. Once Young realizes that, he’ll be just fine.
Shooting and depth will likely kill this team
It’s early, and Bogdanovic has yet to play a game this year, but it’s already overwhelmingly evident what the two biggest concerns are with this team. They don’t have enough shooters, and their bench is way too inconsistent. I have no idea why Travis Schlenk thought it was a good idea to trade Kevin Huerter, but that’s in the past now. The Hawks need to find answers on their bench; Bogi will help, but he alone is not enough.
The Hawks have found something in AJ Griffin
With the lack of quality depth the Hawks have on the wing, it is puzzling that AJ Griffin was riding the bench to begin the season. In minimal playing time, he flashed, but his breakout game came on Monday against the Bucks, as he tallied 24 points on an efficient 10-15 from the field. Nate McMillan loves to hold his rookies back, but I see no reason why Griffin shouldn’t be getting at least 15+ minutes he night. He looks like he has the makings of a really good player in this league.
Photographer: Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire