This is becoming a familiar theme.
Earlier in the offseason, the good folks at CBS Sports placed the Atlanta Hawks at No. 30 in their power rankings. Then, ESPN’s RPM projections pegged Mike Budenholzer’s team with the worst win-loss record in the NBA, albeit by a relatively slim margin.
The Hawks could have five first round picks over the next two drafts, and the best of the five will likely be their own. Their 23-year-olds returning starters - Dennis Schroder and Taurean Prince - will continue to get plenty of playing time, but throwing No. 19 pick John Collins (who turns 20 next month) into the fire early (at the expense of a bunch of veteran bigs) could be an important long-term play.
The good news is that they can't get much worse offensively than they were after the All-Star break last season (101.0 points scored per 100 possessions - last in the league).
Schuhmann’s “key question” for the team centers on whether Atlanta will actually focus on the future rather than the slog of attempting to win the most games possible by deploying veterans for extended minutes. That remains to be seen but, given the way the offseason was handled, it would be a significant disappointment if extensive attention was not paid to player development when it comes to John Collins, DeAndre’ Bembry and others.
As we’ve stated ad nauseum, it is not wholly unreasonable to consider the Hawks to be in the bottom tier of the league. At the same time, it does seem a little bit aggressive that nearly every major outlet is predicting a bottom-dwelling finish, especially given the presence of Mike Budenholzer on the sideline and a set of players that, on paper, fit together with relative snugness.
The future is bright given the future draft assets and some intriguing young players. This is another reminder, though, that 2017-2018 might not go well from a win-loss perspective. Also, that is perfectly fine.