Not much has gone right for the Hawks since their magical Eastern Conference Finals run. Organizational dysfunction met with underachieving results on the court has clouded the fan base with pessimism. However, it seems the club has come out the other side under Quin Snyder.
The former Jazz head coach took over for Nate McMillan in the middle of the season, which is atypical for any professional sport. Under Snyder, they were still an extraordinarily mediocre squad, winning one and losing the next. The Hawks ended up in the play-in, upsetting the Heat in Miami to punch their ticket to the postseason.
Drawing the Celtics, who were considered championship favorites, in the first round wasn’t ideal. However, many expected a sweep or gentleman’s sweep at worse, and the Hawks put up a lot of fight, pushing it to Game 6, including a win in the Garden.
It was a very encouraging ending to an overall underwhelming campaign and actually gave the club a bit of momentum heading into a pivotal offseason. And so far, the Hawks seem to be pulling all the right strings.
Even though John Collins netted a measly second-rounder, many expected Atlanta to have to attach draft capital in a salary dump. Sure, it’s a failure considering what JC garnered in trade talks a couple of years ago, but it’s a success considering his current value.
I won’t give Quin Snyder credit for that, but his biggest impact as Hawks head coach so far is the Dejounte Murray contract extension, which is extremely team-friendly.
It’s a veteran maximum extension that could be worth as much as $120 million over four years. Considering Fred VanVleet signed with the Rockets for $130 million over three years in free agency, DJM’s deal can only be seen as a bargain. The pair are comparable players, but Murray is superior and much cheaper. He would’ve undoubtedly drawn more on the open market but decided to stay in Atlanta.
This brings me to my takeaway — Quin Snyder was the driving factor in Dejounte Murray signing that extension. Don’t believe me? Just listen to how he talks about his head coach.
DJ speaks on his relationship with Coach Snyder pic.twitter.com/zmMS71egbj
— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) July 12, 2023
“We actually text every day, and that right there means a lot, not only to myself, but to him as well,” Dejounte Murray said in an interview during a Summer Leauge contest. “Because we all want to be great, you don’t just want to be great as an individual, and basketball is a team sport. So you can’t just have one, two, three in line, you gotta have everybody in line from the top to bottom.”
Going from Lloyd Pierce to Nate McMillan, it finally feels like there’s a CEO-esque head coach leading the Hawks.
“With Quin, he’s just passionate,” Murray continued. “Not only does he want to win, he wants to put everybody in situations to be successful as men and obviously basketball players. And even his coaching staff, you just go on and on. He’s a Seattle guy, so it’s only right we connect.”
I’m cautiously optimistic about the Atlanta Hawks basketball club, but having Snyder leading us gives me a ton of faith in the future.
Photographer: Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire