It’s never too early to start looking at next season, and with the NBA Finals now over, Bleacher Report has already begun evaluating who has the best chance to take down the Milwaukee Bucks in 2021-2022. Typically, the Hawks don’t receive too much love from the national media, but it looks like more people are hopping on the bandwagon after their Eastern Conference Finals berth.
In Bleacher Report’s opening 2021-2022 power rankings before free agency, the Hawks come in at #4, behind only the Nets, Bucks, and Jazz. That’s some pretty good company. The Nets are arguably the most talented team in the NBA; the Bucks are NBA champions, and the Jazz are coming off a season in which they had the best record in basketball. The Hawks are even ahead of the Lakers, who still feature Lebron James and Anthony Davis, the 76ers, and the Suns, who just won the Western Conference. Here’s what Greg Swartz of Bleacher report had to say about the Hawks.
Atlanta jumped from 20 wins to 41 before going on to secure a spot in the Eastern Conference Finals thanks to its combination of young talent and proven vets.
Trae Young runs the offense (25.3 points, 9.4 assists), but he’s received plenty of help. Nine total Hawks averaged at least 10.0 points per game this season, and seven are under contract for 2021-22. An eighth, John Collins, is a restricted free agent who’s almost guaranteed to return as well.
We didn’t get to see a complete healthy season from De’Andre Hunter or Cam Reddish, players who could turn into two-way stars in Atlanta. Onyeka Okongwu didn’t have to play a big role as a rookie thanks to the presence of Clint Capela, but the No. 6 overall pick in 2020 has the tools to become an elite rim protector.
Outside of Collins, Lou Williams is the only core piece from the Hawks set to become a free agent this summer—a good sign for the team’s continuity in 2021-22.
Some might look at the Hawks as a one-hit wonder, but they simply aren’t looking deep enough. They have a true superstar in Trae Young surrounded by the best young core in the NBA. Atlanta also has a tremendous amount of depth and the flexibility to adjust their roster this offseason. Led by Travis Schlenk, who has worked magic ever since taking over as general manager in Atlanta, the Hawks are poised for sustained success.
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