Travis Schlenk was busy this offseason surrounding the young core in Atlanta with veteran leadership. Trae Young, John Collins, Cam Reddish, De’Andre Hunter, and Kevin Huerter are all ascending to different levels. Young and Collins are already perennial talents, while Reddish, Hunter, and Huerter are developing nicely into valuable wing players. However, the Hawks needed more — more of everything.
Schlenk put his money where his mouth was and acquired Clint Capela (traded for last year), Bogdan Bogdanovic, Danilo Gallinari, Rajon Rondo, Kris Dunn, and Tony Snell. He upgraded the Hawks’ leadership, offense, and defense. Chase has already graded each offseason acquisition and detailed what each brings to the team so be sure to check that out if you have not.
Now, it’s not a question of making the Eastern Conference playoffs or not, but what seed in the East. Chase also wrote a piece on where the Hawks stack up among the other Eastern Conference playoff favorites. He gave his own opinion on top of the betting favorites and where each team will be seeded. Most gambling sites have the Hawks being the seventh seed.
The current betting favorites (in order) are the Bucks (1), Nets (2), Heat (3), Celtics (4), Raptors (5), and 76ers (6). To be a fourth seed or better, the Hawks will more than likely have to jump at least three of these teams. I think this is in this teams’ realm of potential.
Last season, the preseason odds to win the championship (which normally correlates with the seeding) out of the Eastern Conference were the Bucks (1), 76ers (2), Celtics (3), Pacers (4), Nets (5), Raptors (6), Heat (7), Magic (8). After the bubble, the Eastern Conference seeding for the playoffs were the Bucks (1), Raptors (2), Celtics (3), Pacers (4), Heat (5), 76ers (6), Nets (7), and Magic (8). As you can see, the top four seeds were mostly concrete except for a couple of discrepancies.
The Raptors made the biggest jump from the preseason odds, while the 76ers had the biggest fall. The gambling odds are difficult to bet on for unforeseeable circumstances like injur, bad chemistry, and other factors. Brooklyn lost Kyrie Irving for most of the season which resulted in a lower seed than projected. The 76ers always have injuries, but the main culprit of their failures seems to be team chemistry which became apparent after falling four positions from the preseason seeding odds.
For the Hawks to jump three of the aforementioned teams (Bucks, Nets, Heat, Celtics, Raptors, and 76ers), there must be some negative internal force within them. Whether that be friction among players (or between coaches and players) or even injuries, the Hawks need some help in climbing the Eastern Conference ladder. The Nets and 76ers both have new coaching staffs. The Celtics and Raptors failed to sign difference-makers, and the Bucks and Heat will have a target on their backs and get every opponent’s best game.
This one-of-a-kind season will also play a role. There are more back-to-backs with fewer days off in between than ever before. This will cater to teams with deeper rosters like the Hawks whereas top-heavy rosters will be negatively affected. Now, back to the reality of the Hawks just not being as talented as some of the other teams in the East. This is an overreaction piece for a reason, it is unlikely Atlanta attains a top-four seed in this seasons’ playoffs. However, due to the unusual nature of this season as well as the high volatility in the conference, there is a chance the Hawks climb the Eastern Conference standings.