Hunter, for the most part, provided a steady influence at the three last season. The hope for the Hawks is that Hunter a player that won’t need the ball in his hands offensively to be effective. Hunter shot 35% from three on just under five attempts per game and this will be a key area of his game going into season two.
We’ll get into Hunter a little more later but I think that the fact you don’t need the ball in Hunter’s hands on offense, it makes inserting him in the starting a bit more viable.
I hear your concerns, we’ll get to it (probably).
When it comes to the Hawks’ closing lineup, you’d probably insert Reddish in place of Hunter. The question of the Hawks’ best lineup probably comes in the form of how the Hawks fare when it’s Capela at center or Collins at center with Gallinari at the four spot, flanked by Reddish, Bogdanovic and Young down the stretch.
There’s only so much that we (collectively) can speculate until it takes form on the court. Everyone will soon learn the Hawks’ starting lineup to begin the season and discover what the best lineup is over time. No one has the answers to those questions just yet, not even the Hawks.
In terms of the rest of the rotation, I’d be surprised if Cheap Tony Snell Jersey and Cheap Solomon Hill Jersey play a ton under normal circumstances/injuries. One of those two may get some first half opportunities on occasion but if they were to play more than 10 minutes — again, under normal circumstances when everyone is available and healthy — I’d be surprised.
Something else worth noting is that we could conceivably see, perhaps, Dunn or Rondo (perhaps to a lesser extent) deployed at the two, pushing Reddish, Huerter or Bogdanovic at the three and further eliminating opportunities for Snell or Hill.
It might have to be that type of situation that Cheap Brandon Goodwin Jersey will need to play some minutes this season, because his path now is obscured by the signings of Rondo and Dunn. I feel for Goodwin. He influenced a notable number of games for the Hawks last season, didn’t get a proper run down the stretch hammer home that he should be the team’s backup point guard going forward and now he’s a victim of the Hawks’ front office making a run for the playoffs as they chose to invest a premium in Cheap Rajon Rondo Jersey and also added Kris Dunn.
Goodwin automatically slides behind both in the rotation and is going to have to be patient. I think he’s talented enough to break through but it’s going to be difficult to wrestle too much from an established player and large money signing in Rondo, so his path minutes might have to come at Dunn’s expense. Even that theory has its problems because Dunn is one of the very few players who can legitimately defend on this team and the Hawks simply need his talents on that end.
From what was a good situation to try and audition for a spot has now turned to one of great challenge for Brandon Goodwin.
Any of these players could end up receiving an opportunity should one of the rotation members contract COVID-19 during the season. I hate to talk about it or mention it, I hope no one (on any team) contracts it but it’s going to be a factor in the NBA this season and there’s no escaping that. That said, the Hawks are in a much better spot with their depth this season to deal with such an eventuality should it transpire.
As for the more prevalent members of the rotation who would appear set to come off of the bench (Gallinari, Huerter, Rondo, I’ll say Reddish, Okongwu, Dunn, Fernando), it remains to be seen what the best combination is for the Hawks’ second unit.
Is there some appeal of a Dunn/Rondo, Huerter, Reddish, Gallinari and Okongwu/Fernando lineup?
When you put it down on paper, you can see a potential issue at that center spot — your backup defense being anchored by a rookie/second year big does sound problematic. Perhaps the Hawks could deploy Capela in a similar way to Cheap Al Horford Jersey once upon a time: sub out at the six minute mark as the first starter out but then the first starter back in and plays with the second unit?
Ultimately it’s all just theory and speculation right now, but it’s interesting to think about and toss out there. You can get a sense of the selection dilemma Lloyd Pierce and his staff are going have this season and how they deploy their much deeper roster this season. A lot of decisions to be made.
What heights can the offense hit? Can the Hawks finally hit threes?
The Hawks have been built to be a more offensively minded team, and you could be forgiven for thinking the Hawks were a good offensive team last year with how many points they scored at times last year. They…were not, at least not in terms of efficiency.
The Hawks ranked 27th in offensive rating for the season despite being tied for 16th for the season in points per game with 111.8 points per game. While the Hawks did improve as the season went on — tying for 16th in offensive rating and sixth in points per game with 116.5 from January 1st — the Hawks still aren’t where they need to be offensively.
May as well start with an obvious area of improvement and a particular focus for the Hawks this off-season: three-point shooting.
The Hawks ranked dead last in three-point percentage on the season, shooting 33.3% from downtown. While the Hawks showed a notable improvement from January 1st (ranking a tied 19th shooting 35.1%), their three-point numbers still made for a poor showing, including the three-point percentage from the bench, which was, again, dead last at 29.7%.
With the bolstering of the three-point shooting to the starting lineup in Bogdanovic and the bench in Gallinari…that’s already a huge boost for the Hawks, but it won’t automatically turn the Hawks into three-point juggernauts. They’ll need their existing three-point marksmen to continue to improve.
Young shot 36% from three on nine attempts per game…if he can reign in some of the less than ideal three-point attempts, that percentage can improve almost immediately. Further three-point improvement can also come from players like Reddish and Hunter, and any further improvement from Huerter would be an added bonus. These players who I’ve mentioned will need to make up for the some of the three-point deficits that will be coming for Rajon Rondo and Cheap Kris Dunn Jersey.
Collins is an interesting one when it comes to three-point shooting.
Collins has shown improvement in each of his three seasons (shooting 40% last season on 3.6 attempts) in the NBA but I think is facing a similar season from behind the arc that I saw for Cheap Taurean Prince Jersey in the 2018-19 season.
Prince lit it up from behind the arc behind a larger role when the Hawks were struck by injuries down the stretch in 2017-18, but it was unclear how he’d fare once the 18-19 season began and everyone previously injured returned to the action. While the scoring output wasn’t there for Prince, his high-end three-point shooting that he flashed turned out to be legit.
I think we’ll find out this season if Collins’ three-point shooting is legit. Given his improvement year-on-year, I think Collins’ numbers are legitimate. Perhaps he doesn’t shoot above a 40% clip, but if he’s able to keep it in the 38-40% range on a similar volume, that’s a successful season for Collins outside the arc. Either way, I think we’ll find out if it’s legit this season.
The Hawks probably should be aiming to get into the top-15 of three-point percentage shooting at the very least. How successful they are from behind the arc I think will play a fairly important role in their quest for a playoff berth.
Can they get into the upper echelons of three-point shooting? Yes, I think so but I do think it’s more than just the additions of Gallinari and Bogdanovic that will make it possible.
Outside of Young, the Hawks lacked for offensive creation — both from the starting unit and off of the bench. Now, some of that was exaggerated due to the loss of Collins to suspension for 25 games but also due to the roster assembly… Expecting Evan Turner to service as the backup point guard while continuing to rely on rookies/second year players in large roles just doesn’t help your offense.
On the off night that Young did struggle, there wasn’t anyone who could help carry the Hawks to victory. There were 12 games last season where Young scored 20 or less points…the Hawks lost all 12 of those games and averaged 99 points per game.
That will have to change this year.
Not only will Collins be there from the start of the season this time and, hopefully, not pick up a 25 game suspension, Bogdanovic and Gallinari will bolster the offense/scoring significantly for the Hawks — certainly enough to help the Hawks when Young is both on and off the floor and on nights when he struggles.
The addition of extra ball-handlers like Bogdanovic, Rajon Rondo and Kris Dunn will mean the ball doesn’t have to be in Young’s hands at all times and can allow Young to be deployed a little more off of the ball, where he can put incredible pressure on the defense with his ability to hit threes from unlimited range and potential to attack on closeouts. Deploying Young off-ball will open up new avenues for the offense.
In addition, you’d also expect growth from the likes of Reddish, Hunter and Huerter at those wing positions too. A big season for all three of those players but we’ll talk about that separately.
The Hawks will also need to tidy up their turnovers, of which there were too many of last season: ranking 28th with 16.2 turnovers per game leading to 19.5 points for opponents a night (also ranking 28th).
The Hawks are also a much deeper team. They don’t have to solely rely on their younger players for basically all of their production anymore. In the not too distant past, the Hawks may have had a few veterans but not many veterans that actually contributed anything meaningful on the court, and the Hawks have missed that. Now it’s a very different story. They have meaningful veteran help and this, in addition to the Hawks’ younger players ever-growing tenure in the NBA, will only strengthen them.
With a much deeper team comes many different options and possibilities for Pierce and his staff to ponder upon.
They have a great variety now in their roster: guys who can handle the ball and make plays for others and allow others at the same time to be deployed off of the ball, they have shooters but also shooters who can do more than just shoot, they have variety in pick-and-roll, they have variety in their lineups (do they roll with Capela at center, do they go small with Collins at the five and Gallinari at the four)… etc.
There’s so many options now, and the beautiful thing for the Hawks will be that they can basically choose how they matchup based on their opponents on most nights. Traditional bigs, small ball lineups, shooting, diversity in playmaking where a bunch of different guys can go at you, or create something elsewhere…the Hawks can pick their poison.
Teams with this much variety and talent usually fare well offensively, and since the offensive end of the floor will be the Hawks will hang their hat on, I think they’ll need to be a top-10 offense in the NBA this season to make up for their defensive shortcomings (more on that soon).
The pressure will be on Pierce to try make that happen, but the Atlanta Hawks are set for a huge leap in terms of their offense. How high can they go?
How are the Hawks going to defend?
This is one of the biggest questions for the Hawks to answer this season and something that will impact their overall ceiling. Regardless what heights their offense hits, there is another side to the ball.
The roster that Travis Schlenk has built is an offensive roster and one that will excel offensively. Defensively… Things could be bad.
Let’s not beat around the bush, call a stone a stone: Young — as fantastic as he is offensively — is not good defensively and that is a problem given his position where a lot of the league’s star players play as well.
His size means it’s extremely hard to hide him on other players/positions. He is going to be the player teams target (and have targeted in the past). That said, the Hawks have some defensive players they can throw on an opposing team’s best player at guard (Kris Dunn), wing Reddish, possibly Hunter too) and center (Capela). For opponents, that secondary matchup (the player the Hawks try to hide Young on) is key.
Thankfully for Young, this time he has a lot more help behind him in the form of not only the improving Collins but now Capela to anchor that backline. While it would be ideal if Young provided more resistance in terms of effort when it comes to defending out front, there’s a certain level of comfort knowing that Capela/Collins will be somewhat nearby if things go wrong. But again, it would be ideal if they didn’t have to be relied on in the first place because when you’re beaten, someone else has to rotate and there will be openings to be found elsewhere.
With Young having more offensive help this season and the knowledge he doesn’t have to so much offensively compared to last season, perhaps there’s hope he will put in more effort defensively. No one is asking, or expecting, Young to be a good defensive player. Heck, not even an average defensive player. He just needs to be not the worst defender in the league, and I think he can do that.
The only plus defenders on this team are Dunn, Reddish and Capela. Hunter could get there, but was a little disappointing at times last season defensively to what was expected of him heading in. Collins, while improving, isn’t quite there yet.
The rest of the roster is going to struggle and perhaps the scariest thought defensively is we have no idea how a potential closing lineup of Young, Bogdanovic, Reddish, Gallinari and Collins is going to fare defensively. I have some reservations if I’m going to be honest…
A lot of the Hawks’ defensive hopes rest with at least three of those players (Dunn, Reddish, Capela) and even then there’s a problem.
Dunn is coming off of the bench and I can’t imagine is likely to play more than 20 minutes a game? Capela will almost certainly play under 30 minutes a game given how the Hawks will likely go small-ball in stretches, including possibly to end games.