Thank you once again for joining me here at Sports Obsessive. Today, I’m going to run through the Atlanta Hawks offseason moves and provide a quick preview of the upcoming 20-21 NBA season. Without further ado, let’s get into it.
2019-2020 Atlanta Hawks
20-47(14th in the Eastern Conference), Off Rtg. 107.2(26th), Def Rtg. 114.8(27th)
2020 NBA Draft: Onyeka Okongwu (#6 pick), Skylar Mays (#50 pick)
Free Agency/Trades: Bogdan Bogdanovic (4 yrs 72 million), Danilo Gallinari (sign and trade, 3yrs 61.4 million), Kris Dunn (2 yrs 10 million), Rajon Rondo ( 2 yrs 15 million), Tony Snell (trade), Solomon Hill (1 yr 2.1 million)
In drafting Onyeka Okongwu the Atlanta Hawks secured the most versatile big defender in the 2020 class. With an ability to switch, drop, play up to the level the screen, as well as show, and recover. Okongwu improved with every game of his freshman campaign at USC. In terms of value, drafting OO at the 6th spot is well, about spot-on. Even if the selection of an additional young big, while still owing Clint Capela more than 50 million dollars over the next three years and John Collins becoming extension talks looming did raise a few eyebrows.
Skylar Mays who the new look, real depth Hawks signed to a two-way contract, is an example of the 2020 classes guard depth. While preference lies in the eye of the beholder (I would have had both Cassius Winston ’53rd pick’ and Grant Riller ’56th pick’ ranked above Mays), he was a three-level scorer who shouldered much of the creation burden for a major program at LSU last year. While he’ll likely play more of a combo guard role at the next level, he’ll hopefully get plenty of development reps on and off the ball next year in the G-league.
These past two years, the Hawks have had a hard time winning games with Trae Young on the court, let alone whenever he was off it. All the early indications out of Atlanta are that the Hawks will start the year with Gallo coming off the bench and hopefully providing an offense fulcrum for a unit that has been listless for the entire Lloyd Pierce tenure. While there are valid questions surrounding Gallo’s age curve, and defensive limitations he stands as a representative figure of the Hawks’ entire offseason philosophy; Get the best players you can get given your market and cap situation, regardless of position, in an effort to surround Trae with talent, period. Push for the playoff, lessen Trae’s creation burden, ask less of the young guys and try to win some basketball games again.
The NBA’s most eligible. Though others may have come a-courtin’ in the end, the Hawks finally felt the thrill of affection given and returned (Bogdanovic’s torrid but short-lived affair with the Milwaukee Bucks became one of the offseason most, dare I say perverse plot lines). The Serbian swingman will be the most capable secondary creator Trae Young has ever played with, allowing the historically ball dominate guard the ability to play within a more free-flowing system. Trae’s catch and shoot numbers have been fantastic over his career, adding a capable side pick n’ roll player like Brogdan could diversify Atlanta’s offense quite a bit. I also think it’s been understated that Bogdanovic, while by no means a wing-stopper is a defensive upgrade over Kevin Huerter. Who can hold his own if surrounded by the right personnel.
Rondo will likely be asked to play the role of coach on and off the court, a steady hand, a respected voice. But, before we get into that I’d like to take a moment to praise Rajon Rondo, who after all these years, still finds ways to create the impossible. An important contributor on a championship team in his 14th season, a savant who’s rediscovered an aging grace once thought lost in Dallas. Whether or not the Hawks find themselves needing real minutes from Rondo this year, his presence day after day in practices, film sessions, and huddles has value.
Atlanta’s “grab the talent you can, figure it out later” logic directed the acquisition of Kris Dunn as well. Dunn, who immediately becomes the Hawks’ best perimeter defender is another player Coach Pierce will have to find minutes for on this deep roster. I’d suspect that Dunn’s defensive versatility coupled with the Hawks’ now and future need to insulate Trae Young defensively could garner the former lottery pick a surprising number of minutes.
What To Watch For Early
Lloyd Pierce has a lot on his plate, this year’s Hawks will be deeper and more talented than they’ve been in many years. But, what exactly will this new influx of talent mean for Atlanta’s existing young core? There will be a battle for minutes at every position this year in Atlanta, its a side effect of depth, so presumably, someone from the group of Hunter/Reddish/Huerter is going to fall out of the rotation.
As bad as Trae Young is on defense (he just might be the absolute worst) last year’s Hawks gave a not-insignificant amount of frontcourt minutes to the likes of Damian Jones and Jabari Parker. Meaning, that the single biggest positional upgrade, despite all the Hawks wheeling and deal might have occurred in the middle of last season when they traded for Clint Capela. Having a competent backline defender like Capela could go along way in Atlanta’s quest for defensive competency.
Other things I’ll be watching for early is whether or not Cam Reddish, who came on strong in the second half of last season can continue to develop within a new context?
What will a slightly less Trae-centric offense look like?
Will the, in my opinion, premature, anxiety surrounding the John Collins extension situation/fit subside or increase once the real-life basketball starts?
What do you think? Drop a reply in our comments section below and let me know!