The Hawks wrapped up the first week of the NBA season last Sunday with an embarrassing loss to the hobbled Hornets, which followed two less-than-impressive wins over the Rockets and Magic. Atlanta will hit the road for the rest of the month, playing the Pistons twice and the Bucks once this week. The Hawks are looking to build more chemistry on both sides of the court, but the early returns from the Dejounte Murray trade look good. Trae Young hasn’t been his usual self but his shooting numbers should regress back to the mean. Let’s check out where NBA power rankings have the Hawks.
12. Atlanta Hawks: “The Trae Young–Dejounte Murray partnership will be a work in progress, but early returns are encouraging. Young is averaging 25.3 points and 11.7 assists despite low shooting numbers. (His 32.4% shooting and 25% clip from 3-point range are sure to increase.) And Murray is averaging 19.7 points, 8.3 assists, 7.3 rebounds and 3.3 steals in his first three games as a Hawk. Young and Murray are both in the top 10 in total assists in the league and, according to ESPN Stats & Information research, could become just the fourth set of teammates since 2000 to each finish in the top 10.” — Lopez
The offense has been good (116.1 points scored per 100 possessions) with both Trae Young and Dejounte Murray on the floor, and they’ve assisted each other 14 times in 83 minutes together. The offense has been not-so-good (96.0 scored per 100) with one on the floor without the other. The Hawks themselves rank 26th in 3-point percentage at 30.8%, with Young just 7-for-28. But their bigs – Clint Capela, John Collins and Onyeka Okongwu – have combined to shoot 34-for-47 (72%) in the paint and De’Andre Hunter (8-for-12 from mid-range) continues to look good inside the arc. The Hawks probably don’t want to lose another one of these first five games, but they’ve lost their last four in Detroit. The schedule begins to get much tougher with their visit to Milwaukee on Saturday, the second game of a back-to-back for both teams.”
16. Atlanta Hawks: “The early returns on the Trae Young–Dejounte Murray pairing are positive. Together, they account for 45 points and 20 assists per game, and John Collins is chipping in a double double as well. The Hawks’ offense sputtered in a 23-point loss to the Hornets that prevented what would’ve been an undefeated homestand after Atlanta handled the Rockets and Magic to start the year. A five-game road trip is next up, starting with back-to-back games against the Pistons.”
11. Atlanta Hawks (previously 15th): “First impressions: Confusing loss to Charlotte to end the week, but we’re seeing Dejounte Murray get integrated out there. One thing I’m going to harp on all season after what Atlanta did to start a year ago is the defensive end of the floor. The Hawks have plenty of defensive-minded personnel to be good at this. They don’t need to be elite. Just don’t be one of the worst in the NBA. Even with the weird loss to Charlotte, the Hawks look good. It’s important to note that Trae Young has struggled to make shots in his first three games. While he can make tough shots, improving on shot selection would take everything to another level. How do they move up to the Brink of Contention tier? We need to see them truly committed to the defensive end. We know the team can score, and maybe that ease affects the effort on defense. Or maybe it’s just personnel. With this talent, the Hawks should be able to climb up into the next tier if they show consistency on defense.”
The consensus is as high as No. 11 and as low as No. 18. But that’s to be expected, as most teams around the league have only played three or four games. It’s far too small of a sample size to take any reasonable analysis from, but Atlanta needs to get on track against a pesky Detroit team that has had their number in past seasons. The Hawks must improve their shooting and bench play; Bogdan Bogdanovic returning should help both of those areas.
Photographer: Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire