As the Hawks try to become more competitive, the roster looks a lot different than it did just a week ago after making four trades ahead of the February 6th trade deadline. This is just the beginning of a Hawks’ roster that is sure to undergo a transformation as Travis Schlenk attempts to put together a better product to win games.
I used a simulator to decide where the Hawks’ first-round pick will land in the lottery. Now that they have fixed their need at center — by far their weakest position heading into the deadline — this selection will be made strictly using the best player available approach.
Starter: Trae Young
Reserves: Jeff Teague, Brandon Goodwin
Trae Young obviously returns as the Hawks’ superstar point guard, looking to reach the playoffs for the first time. That comes as no surprise, and with a better supporting cast around him, he should average a double-double in his third NBA season. The question is, who will be playing behind him. When the team brought in Jeff Teague, they made it clear that he would be trying out for a role beyond this season. He seems to have finally found a bit of a groove, but he has struggled with the Hawks, especially when having to play off-ball.
I am not sure he will return, but when looking at veteran point guard free agents who may take a one-year deal, Teague is one of the very few that makes sense. I predict the Hawks will sign him to a one-year, $5 million pact. I wrote about how the Hawks should guarantee Brandon Goodwin’s two-way contract and lock him up on a partially guaranteed deal for a while, and I do believe they will do so.
Starter: Kevin Huerter
Reserves: Alec Burks, Kyle Korver
Kevin Huerter is the only returning shooting guard on the roster, so the team will surely look to add a couple in free agency or in the Draft. The Hawks actually rank dead last in three-point shooting as a team, so they will be looking for sharpshooters to surround Trae Young. While Atlanta should look to upgrade the roster in any way possible, they should try to sign players on one-year deals so that they can take a shot at a superstar in a loaded 2021 free agency class. A guy like Joe Harris would be a perfect fit, but I am not sure he is talented enough to give up the team’s future financial flexibility. I predict the Hawks will add Alec Burks as a scoring sixth-man on a $2-year, $24 million deal with a team option in the second year. I also predict the Hawks will offer Kyle Korver a one-year deal to return as a specialist if he does not call it a career.
Starter: De’Andre Hunter
Reserves: Cam Reddish, Josh Jackson
De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish both return, see a pretty even split in playing time, and hopefully considerable improvement in year two. At some point, the Hawks might have to decide between these two, but I do not think it will be as early as this offseason. Atlanta also takes a cheap one-year flier on Josh Jackson. The former top pick has been a bust in the NBA and spent most of the year in the G-League, but the Hawks give him a shot in hopes that he responds better to how they develop young players.
Starter: John Collins
Reserves: Skal Labissiere, Onyeka Okongwu
Despite the rumors, I still believe that the Hawks see John Collins as a crucial piece to their future success, and he returns as the starter next season. Considering the team gave up cash to receive Skal Labissiere, who is heading into restricted free agency, I believe the team feels they can tap into his potential and may give him a short contract in free agency if he performs well down the stretch.
As far as the Hawks’ first-round pick goes, it fell to fifth overall. Now, I do think if this occurs, there is a high chance they try to move it for an excellent young player, perhaps a package for a guy like Bradley Beal. However, when predicting the roster, I tend to be a bit more conservative. I went with the best player available, and that was Onyeka Okogwu out of USC. He has been one of the noticeable risers on draft boards, drawing comparisons to Heat big man Bam Adebayo. Okogwu is a bit undersized, so he may end up being more of a 4 in the NBA, but I would not rule out him taking over the ropes from Clint Capela at some point and could serve as a quality backup at both positions out of the gate.
Starter: Clint Capela
Reserves: Dewayne Dedmon, Bruno Fernando
Clint Capela was the center the Hawks were desperately looking for, and they brought him in at a reasonable price. He should offer the rebounding and defense the Hawks have so very much needed in 2019-20. They also did some early shopping with next year’s cap space by bringing in Dewayne Dedmon as a backup. He will come off the books in what could be a game-changing summer for the Hawks in 2021. Of course, there is only one other spot left, and that comes down to Damion Jones and Bruno Fernando. I actually really have liked Jones this year and think he could excel in a role with less pressure, but Bruno is younger, and the Hawks can simply let Jones walk in free agency. This is splitting hairs, but I will give Fernando the spot since he is under contract with the team.
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