For practically the entire season, the Warriors owned the NBA’s worst record, just months after an NBA Finals appearance. However, as the Hawks continue on their 8-game skid, they now own that title with a 6-25 mark. For a team many thought would take the next step in 2019-20, it is somewhat disappointing… depending on how you look at it.
Trae Young’s breakout aside, everything has been the worst possible scenario for the Hawks, given John Collins’ suspension and Kevin Huerter’s injury woes, so at least it can only go up from here. Collins looked great in his return, and Huerter seems to have found a groove. However, this is simply too deep a hole for the Hawks to dig themselves out of. Now, they will get perhaps their last crack at drafting a generational talent before taking a post-hype next step.
We all saw how crazy the new lottery format is, and having the league’s worst record does not have quite as much pull as it used to. With that being said, if Atlanta ended the season in this spot, they would have a 52.1% chance of finishing in the top 4 picks, and a 14% chance of obtaining the number 1 selection. All three worst records in the league share those same odds, which is good because the Hawks seem likely to perform a bit better now that they are back at full-strength.
With the season now lost, Atlanta should be hoping to land one of the top two picks. It is tough to say who is more impressive, given James Wiseman’s three-game college sample size, but both he and Anthony Edwards appear to have the makings of superstars in the NBA. This roster may not be built to win now, but if you pair one of those two with the young core of Trae Young, John Collins, De’Andre Hunter, Cam Reddish, and Kevin Huerter, and consider the amount of cap room the Hawks open up after this season, it would be quite the consolation prize.
Rebuilds are a tedious, painful process, but Travis Schlenk is doing what is necessary to build a contender in the long-run. If the ping pong balls fall in his favor, this gruesome season could deliver another talent like Trae Young. Keep rooting for this team, and don’t lose faith. A light remains at the end of the tunnel; the train is just taking a little longer to get there than expected.