- And The Challenger Is – 2023 AFC West Preview - September 7, 2023
- Tyrese Maxey Is Approaching Stardom Very “Fast” - November 15, 2022
- Three Hot Takes From The Hawks’ Impressive Win Over Knicks - November 3, 2022
After a full week in the books, the Atlanta Hawks finished at 3-1. First off, no matter how it may look or seem like, you have to be happy with this record during the first week of the season. It’s a win-win situation when you can go through growing pains while winning.
It’s a lot to depict when evaluating the Hawks for a short amount of time but it has to be done. So here’s an outlook on what has transpired so far in the season.
The prime players are playing pretty well. We expect Trae Young to do what he does (25.3 ppg, 11.7 apg) but to be able to play like this with the addition of Dejounte Murray signifies what we thought; Young is a superstar.
Murray has been more than solid offensively, averaging 19.7 points, 8.3 assist and 7.3 rebounds per game. He’s doing this while still trying to fit into the scheme and learning to play with his teammates on the court.
Murray’s biggest impact has been his defense. He’s averaging more than three steals per game (3.3) and his on-the-ball defense has been stellar.
What has stood out the most and have impacted the wins is the play of John Collins. He’s averaging 19.0 points and 10.3 rebounds per game. Playing with more confidence than we’ve ever witness, he’s been very aggressive, yet under control.
The biggest surprise of Collins has been his intensity on defense. He’s averaging 1.7 blocks per game and the fact that he’s playing good man-to-man defense and even helping on others has sparked this team.
Worried Just A Little
It’s been mentioned that the Hawks are 3-1 while still working out kinks but what’s concerning is they’re doing this while playing teams that aren’t really that good.
Their four opponents so far have been the Houston Rockets, Orlando Magic, Charlotte Hornets and the Detroit Pistons. They are a combined 4-17 but each game has been competitive.
The problem the Hawks have dealt with the last few years is playing to their competition’s level. Yes, it’s the beginning of the season and they’ve added new players but it’s no way that they should have been in close games with those teams and get blown out at home by the Hornets who didn’t have their best player in LaMelo Ball.
Individually, Collins, Murray and Clint Capela have been great defensively but collectively, it’s still a struggle to play well the entire or most of the game.
The uplifting part is we see it in spurts, which shows it can be done. The second unit with Onyeka Okongwu, Aaron Holiday and Justin Holiday have been solid at times. More time with each other and getting their legs under them will help tremendously, and now that head coach Nate McMillan have more natural defenders on the team, we should see better results.
With all of that being said, when this team hits it’s stride, they will be hard to stop. A big part of that will be the consistency of De’Andre Hunter.
It’s been a lot of criticism of Hunter in the past for not being consistent and playing with confidence. During these four games, he’s been solid, playing within the flow of the offense and at times, been aggressive. He’s averaging 15.3 points per game while shooting over 54% from the field.
If Hunter can continue this effort and be stellar on defense, then the Hawks starting five should be able to compete with anyone.
Another player who have stepped up his game is Jalen Johnson. “The Kid” is finally getting playing time and each game, he seems to get better. No he’s not wooing us with stats but he just looks more comfortable and with the offensive talent he has, the better his confidence gets, the more of that talent we will see.
We’ve basically named everyone except for the player who should be in the running of the Sixth Man of the Year Award, Bogdan Bogdanovic.
When he finally gets healthy, having the new additions will benefit “Bogey” the most. Instead of being the main scorer or the only person who can create his own shot off the bench, now he has Murray to run the second unit with guys like Justin Holiday who can shoot the ball, which will take all of attention from Bogey.
On top of that, when he’s in the lineup with Young, Murray and even Collins, Bogdonaovich might be the third option at best. This will definitely give him clean looks and space to score the ball, which will open up the entire offense.
So all in all, the Hawks aren’t playing their best basketball collectively but the potential is evident and high. As they continue to gel and get healthy, this could be a dangerous team in the East.