Lloyd Pierce said Tony Snell and Onyeka Okongwu went through 5-on-5 scrimmaging today.
— Chris Kirschner (@ChrisKirschner) January 8, 2021
The Hawks have started the first eight games this season short-handed. Kris Dunn, Onyeka Okongwu, and Tony Snell have yet to make their Atlanta debut. The Hawks clearly have some of the most dangerous offensive power in the NBA, but can it be met with consistency and defense?
Tony Snell is a reliable ‘3 and D’ wing who will certainly provide a spark for the second unit. And Onyeka Okongwu is a freak of nature, spewing tenacity on the glass and defensive side of the court. Having both will give the Hawks legs and invigorate the team with yet more pieces to assimilate into an already crammed bench.
Snell and Okongwu will ease their way back into things, I’m sure, but the fact remains that maybe Atlanta’s best defensive player is returning in the immediate future. Okongwu will not only provide a one-on-one presence to fear, but his off-ball defense may be better than his on-ball. His motor is as long-lasting as the Energizer Bunny and will show up in places the stat sheet doesn’t cover. He will also pad his numbers on the boards. Sometimes rebounding is a technique-thing, but most of the time, it is an effort-thing… something Okongwu doesn’t lack.
Through the first five games of the season, the Hawks had one of the highest offensive efficiency ratings in the NBA. Adding Tony Snell will only amplify that immaculate efficiency. Snell has been able to shoot the three-ball at a 38.5% clip for his career. Last season, in a Pistons offense that was struggling, he shot 40.2% from behind the arc. The Hawks, although in a slump, are still one of the most dangerous teams from the three-point line. Adding yet another reliable shooter will open the floor even more for Atlanta’s ball-handlers.
We should wait to pass judgment on the Hawks until we actually see the full team play together. Rajon Rondo, Danilo Gallinari, Kris Dunn, Onyeka Okongwu, and Tony Snell have all missed significant time and play vital roles for this team. Rondo is the initiator of the second unit and a leader in the locker room. Gallo is supposed to be spreading the floor and providing pick-and-roll/pop options for Rondo and Trae Young. Dunn is a maestro on the defensive end. Okongwu could be a budding star. And Snell is an efficient shooter with plenty of ability defensively. When this team gets healthy, there’s still reason to believe they can compete in the Eastern Conference.