Less than a week ago, the good people at SportsLine (via CBS Sports) provided a very optimistic view of the Atlanta Hawks for the 2018-19 NBA season. However, not everyone shares that rosy outlook and a dose of reality came to light in the form of two recent NBA power rankings from high-level outlets.
First, Kurt Helin of NBC Sports put together his summer rankings and the Hawks landed at No. 30 overall with the following write-up.
Trae Young was down then up at Summer League, eventually adapting to the length and athleticism of defenders at that level — but come October that level is going to take another massive jump. John Collins at center impressed a lot at Summer League, he could be a future star. Will the Hawks get anything out of Jeremy Lin? Embrace the rebuild, Hawks fans: It’s going to be a rough year, but look for signs of growth and hope.
On Monday, ESPN’s panel of experts followed suit with a No. 30 ranking and Ian Begley penned the following.
The Hawks might not win many games this season, but they are well-positioned to rebuild. By trading Dennis Schroder to the Thunder, the Hawks freed more minutes for Trae Young and nearly $50 million in 2019 cap space next summer. The club also might have three first-round picks in the 2019 draft -- their own, Cleveland’s (top-10-protected) and Dallas’s (top-five-protected). That’s a good place for the Hawks and first-year head coach Lloyd Pierce to begin climbing back up in the East.
In all honesty, a No. 30 perch is closer to the consensus at this stage than what the SportsLine model projected.
There are certainly arguments for the Hawks to be superior to teams like the Bulls, Kings, Knicks (without Kristaps Porzingis) and Magic. With that said, it also wouldn’t be terribly shocking to see Atlanta end next season with the league’s worst record, particularly if the organization elects to “sell” some of its veteran players (Dewayne Dedmon, Jeremy Lin, Kent Bazemore, etc.) and lean heavily on a talented, yet inexperienced, group of young prospects.
It feels safe to say that the 2018-19 Hawks will be intriguing, particularly given the presence of Trae Young, Taurean Prince and John Collins. Still, there are skeptics around the league when it comes to present-day competency and this is a reminder of that.