For the past several months, Hawks fans have seen nothing but trade rumors surrounding nearly every player on the roster outside of Trae Young and Clint Capela.
Matt Moore of Action Network revealed an offer Daryl Morey of the 76ers made to Travis Schlenk that included the Hawks sending John Collins, Bogdan Bogdanovic, and three first-round picks in exchange for Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris. According to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, Atlanta inquired about Derrick White of the Spurs, Jerami Grant of the Pistons, and Marcus Smart of the Celtics.
There has been no shortage of trade rumors, and John Collins hasn’t been exempt from those discussions even after signing a five-year deal this past offseason. Fischer reported the Hawks, at one point, were searching for a first-round pick and a starting-caliber player in return for the ultra-efficient Collins.
Well, those sentiments that Schlenk uttered about this team needing a shake-up might have grown stale as the Hawks’ much improved play on the defensive end has resulted in a seven-game winning streak.
In those seven games, Atlanta has a defensive rating of 108.0, which is the sixth-best mark in the NBA over that span. De’Andre Hunter’s return from injury has certainly played a part in that defensive improvement; however, the emergence of Onyeka Okongwu has been remarkable and has undoubtedly propelled the team during this stretch.
Numbers aside, it has become apparent that the overall intensity on the defensive end of across the entire roster has improved as well. The Hawks have shown a concerted effort to improve defensively, and they’re enjoying the fruits of their labor — a seven-game win streak.
The Hawks offense is as good as any in the Association — show casing the second-best unit in the NBA. Much like last season, the offense was always there, and the defense improved over the second half of the season. If the Hawks continue to put it together on the defensive end, they’ll likely make a run for one of the Eastern Conference top six seeds.
This begs the question, should Travis Schlenk hold off on a trade?
I believe the Hawks are still a piece away from competing for the Larry O’Brien trophy, but they’re certainly not in a position to go all-in to win a championship this year. Schlenk shouldn’t push his chips in before the deadline because it could potentially cost him roster flexibility in the future. The Hawks are a playoff-caliber team right now, and Schlenk should let this season play out as the entirety of the roster finally gets minutes together.
This team’s defensive woes have been mitigated with the return of Hunter, the emergence of OO, and the overall effort level from the rest of the roster. The Hawks can make a push for the playoffs as the roster is constructed; unless a trade improves the roster immediately without sacrificing the future, Schlenk should be reluctant to make a deal.