The Key to the Hawks Offseason — Run It Back

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There will be many arguments over the next four weeks regarding whether John Collins is worth a max contract. I’m not sure he is, but if he isn’t, then who is? Outside of Kawhi Leonard and Chris Paul, Collins might be the most valuable free agent on the market this summer. Hoops Hype even has him as the 2nd ranked free agent of this class, five spots ahead of Paul. Obviously, Leonard would be a massive get, but it’s also a pipe dream. He’s not going to Atlanta. Collins, on the other hand, has made it clear he wants to return.

If the Hawks are going to land another star to pair with Trae Young, it will have to come via trade. Like every summer, there will probably be several on the move, but it’s tough to find a potential trade that is both realistic and makes the Hawks better than simply re-signing John Collins using his bird rights. I’m not counting it out of the realm of possibility, but I don’t find it likely, considering the Hawks probably still aren’t 100% certain on which players they are willing to part ways with. The team is loaded with talent; they certainly have the pieces to put together a package for nearly any player in the league, but so much potential on this roster is still untapped, and the last thing the Hawks want to do is trade away guys who will eventually be on All-Star teams.

And that’s the primary reason the Hawks shouldn’t hesitate to dig in their heels and run it back — untapped potential. When looking around the league, there isn’t a roster with as much young talent as the Hawks, and frankly, it isn’t close. Trae Young, John Collins (assuming they bring him back), Cam Reddish, De’Andre Hunter, Kevin Huerter, and Onyeka Okongwu are 23 years or younger. All of them, including Trae Young, have plenty of room to grow and are nowhere close to their respective primes. Just by natural improvements in their games, the Hawks will take another step in the right direction each year. Not to mention, this group had to deal with a plethora of injuries during the playoffs and still finished just two games short of the NBA Finals.

After watching Atlanta’s playoff run, I don’t think it’s too far off to say that if this team is healthy come next postseason, they are the biggest threat to a healthy Brooklyn Nets squad. Collins, Reddish, Hunter, and even Okongwu have All-Star potential; there’s no reason to try and chase that dragon now. Because if they go after a star, and it doesn’t pan out, they could once again be looking at a mini-rebuild of sorts. As currently constructed, the Hawks have the core that 28 other GMs would dream of. A hobbled version of this team has already made the Eastern Conference Finals. With a few tweaks to the secondary parts of the roster and some better luck in the health department, the Hawks are capable of winning a championship without making any flashy trades.

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