The 2017-2018 NBA season is rapidly approaching, even if it feels far away at this juncture. The Atlanta Hawks may not be a title contender but that doesn’t mean there isn’t any intrigue surrounding the team and, before training camp gets underway, our Peachtree Hoops staff came together to address ten topics about the squad.
The first edition broke down the team’s biggest strength for the upcoming season and, from there, we’ve progressed through several questions. Today’s topic is somewhat treacherous and it deals with players that could underachieve when compared to (sometimes) lofty expectations.
Brad Rowland: John Collins. That isn’t to say that Collins will be bad, necessarily, but rookies are generally underwhelming, especially those rookies that fall outside of the lottery. Throw in the fact that expectations shot through the roof after a fun and impressive Las Vegas performance and there seems to be a growing contingent that are predicting very rosy things from Collins in his first season. I hope he plays a lot and, if he does, there will be plenty of highlights. Collins also might get buried for long stretches and his defense could be a full-blown adventure.
Graham Chapple: John Collins seems to be nearly the only right answer here and the only reason why this is the case is because he’s a rookie, especially in a rebuilding year where he’s one of the biggest areas of focus. People tend to overrate rookies, especially ones who looked great in Summer League as Collins did. The reality is that it isn’t going to be plain sailing for Collins in his rookie season. His defense will be targeted and exploited much more at the professional level, he won’t find it as easy to power his way to the basket as he did in Vegas...everything is just going to be harder for Collins.
Greg Willis: I think the expectations for Taurean Prince this season are a bit high. I expect him to be one of the Hawks’ better players this season but some have taken the flashes he showed in the playoffs last season as indication that he will be a major breakout player in the upcoming season. During the playoffs, he was on the floor with players who commanded a lot of attention from the Washington defense. That will not so much be the case this season. The fact is that Prince didn’t get consistent playing time until the middle of February last season, so I expect this season to be more of a learning and development season for him.
Glen Willis: I think the expectations of this team are so low that it might be hard to put any of their players in this category. Prince came out of the playoffs with a bit too much hype and Collins did the same coming out of summer league. But if the Hawks organization makes a major PR push around Collins between now and the start of the regular season, that could have the possibility of elevating expectations of what he can contribute during his rookie season to an unreasonable level. I do think Collins should end up being on the first or second all-rookie team. But that just means you have to be one of the ten best rookies in the league. That’s a pretty low bar; rookies are generally terrible. I think Collins’ play will be satisfactory in terms of what the organization expects of him. But external expectations could get out of control for example if he starts getting buzz in terms of potentially being in the dunk contest and such.
Jeff Siegel: I mean, do people really have lofty expectations for anybody on this team? I do expect Prince to take the next step forward to becoming an elite all-around wing, so if he were to stagnate in his second season, it would be a bit of a disappointment. I’m higher on Dennis Schröder than most and this will be a very good opportunity for him to show off his offensive skills, but we said the same thing last year and the Hawks were downright putrid on that end. Perhaps he’ll continue to put it together in his fifth season in the league, but a major regression from Schröder would throw the starting point guard role into question going forward.
RedRev: The expectations on Taurean Prince are simply too high. He was really strong closing the season but he was not being asked to do a whole lot. I do not believe he is a player who has the ability to thrive with the ball in his hand and that limits him emerging in a big way. If he is a solid starter then he will have progressed nicely but it seems many people have expectations that are for him to be on the level of DeMarre Carroll’s last season--and that is unrealistic.