2021 is right around the corner, but it is undeniable that sports will again look different in the new year. The NBA’s season has been shortened to 72 games, baseball is considering starting later, and who knows what the plan is for football. However, one constant that has remained across all sports amongst all this craziness is the importance of depth.
We’re not even a week into the NBA season, and we already have canceled games and players sitting out due to COVID protocols. The Hawks were forced to play without their backup point guard Rajon Rondo because of the virus. That’s not going to change, which makes it more important this season than ever to have guys that can step up and play increased roles.
The Hawks depth is something I’ve mentioned several times leading into the season and again after their first game. Without four key players, Atlanta smashed the Bulls on the road, scoring over 80 points in the first half thanks to seven players finishing the game in double digits — pretty remarkable considering all the firepower that didn’t even suit up. Many teams don’t have seven guys that score in double figures, especially on one night. The Hawks legitimately might have eleven or twelve.
On Wednesday night, Trae Young, Cam Reddish, De’Andre Hunter, Danilo Gallinari, John Collins, Bogdan Bogdanović, and Kevin Huerter scored more than ten points. Clint Capela — the Hawks starting center — didn’t even play. He should be a lock for around 15 points per game once he returns healthy. Rajon Rondo may not be a score-first point guard, but he’s liable to find a rhythm on any given night. The same can be said for Kris Dunn, who also missed Wednesday’s game. The Hawks also don’t even know what they have in Onyeka Okongwu, but if he performs as they expect him to, he will give the Hawks another double-digit scorer. Brandon Godwin has also shown some potential in spurts, although Lloyd Pierce hopefully won’t have to be calling his number very often given that Young and Rondo are ahead of him on the depth chart.
But that’s the whole point of this article, right? The only thing we can be sure about regarding this NBA season is that craziness will ensue for every team at some point. Everyone on the roster will have to step up eventually. For the last few seasons, that would have been a nail in the coffin for the Hawks, who featured one of the most barren second units in the league. That won’t be the case in 2021. Atlanta may not have multiple superstars, but they have a roster loaded with capable players from top to bottom, something that will stand out even more in this season full of uncertainty… something that played well for the Miami Heat last season.