The Hawks were served a piece of humble pie last time out. Sure, they’ve already lost four games this season, but this was the first time – with Trae Young on the floor – that they were run out of the building, and it happened against the lowly Bulls. It’s a good reminder for a young group that on any given night, against any team in the league, you can be exposed for lack of focus, effort, or both.
Young had his first game where he looked human, scoring only nine points and dishing out three assists in 29 minutes. The rest of the starters weren’t much better either. Jabari Parker was the only one to reach double-digit points, tallying eighteen of them. Alex Len only played eleven minutes and continued to struggle, while the two starting rookies – Reddish and Hunter – combined for 2-15 from the field, as the Hawks were routed by twenty points on their home floor. These kinds of games happen throughout a season, but the teams that make the playoffs don’t let lightning strike twice – at least not in the same week.
Tonight, the Kings come into town for Atlanta’s final game of a four-game homestand before heading out west for a five-game road trip that begins in Portland. This matchup features two of the league’s rising stars at the point guard position. You already know about Trae Young, we’ve discussed him plenty already this season, and know what to expect from him each time out, but the Hawks are going to have to stop his counterpart if they want to walk away with a win. De’Aaron Fox is potentially the fastest and most explosive point guard in the NBA, and he’s off to a fine start himself, putting up 18.1 points and 6.6 assists a night. His abilities were on full display against the Hawks last season, as he averaged 20 points on 56.5% shooting, 11 assists, and 7.5 rebounds in two Kings wins. Look for Coach Pierce to throw a bevy of different looks at him this time around, starting with Cam Reddish.
Reddish hasn’t been the bucket-getter the Hawks might have expected thus far, but he’s been a key cog in turning their defensive numbers around early on. He’s only averaging 6.1 points on 24.6% from the field. Pretty ugly, but remember how Trae Young started last season. Give these rookies a chance to get acclimated. I still think he’s going to be a good one.
Sacramento got off to an 0-5 start but beat the Jazz and Knicks before losing to the Trail Blazers last time out. They have surrounded their third-year star point guard with a wealth of young talent, starting with Buddy Hield, who they recently signed to an extension. Unfortunately for them, Marvin Bagley is out with injury, but the Hawks will still have to slow down the likes of Harrison Barnes and Bogdan Bogdanovich to pull out the win.
It all starts at 7:30 ET at State Farm Arena.