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Atlanta Hawks roundtable: Bold predictions for the 2018-19 season

Hold on to your hats.

Los Angeles Lakers v Atlanta Hawks Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

In the dog days of August, fresh NBA content can be sparse but Peachtree Hoops cuts through the silence for an off-season roundtable series centering on the Atlanta Hawks. Part seven provides the opportunity for each staffer to toss a “bold prediction” into the fray for the upcoming 2018-19 season.

  • Brad Rowland - Trae Young finishes in the top three of Rookie of the Year voting. I wouldn’t predict that Young outright wins the award but, given the opportunity and usage he projects to have in Atlanta, the counting stats should follow. That doesn’t mean that Young will be fully formed early on (and rookie point guards are generally bad) but he is going to score and generate assists. That’s half the battle when jockeying for awards position against other first-year players. At the very least, the handicapping markets (where Young is approximately 10-to-1) provide value if you want to get weird.
  • Glen Willis - Well, I’m the opposite of being a “hot take person” and, for some reason, that’s how this question reads to me. I’m going to say the Hawks will be the best represented team during all-star weekend among the teams clearly outside of the playoff race. I expect both John Collins and Trae Young will participate in the Rising Stars challenge. I would be shocked if Collins is not in the dunk contest and think he might be considered the favorite to win it. And, for the heck of it, I’m going to say Collins wins the skills competition even though it’s something I don’t care about.
  • Graham Chapple - I thought Travis Schlenk might have sold high on Taurean Prince’s strong second half of the season over the summer (which I didn’t think was representative of who he really is on the court, he got a lot of shots up as injuries depleted the roster) and I think he might do so again if he plays well, with Prince’s extension eligibility approaching next year. If Schlenk isn’t willing to pay Prince (who, it’s important to note, was not someone who was drafted by Schlenk) then I think it’s possible he does move Prince at some stage, possibly next summer rather than in-season.
  • Greg Willis - My bold prediction is that Taurean Prince gets traded before the 2019 draft and perhaps before the trade deadline this season. I think he is an odd fit on this roster and the coaching staff may grow weary of his inconsistent focus and attention to detail. He is a good enough shooter and profiles as a strong enough defender that other teams will find value in him and I think there is a good chance the Hawks will look to capitalize on a team in need of a wing that can shoot and is willing to defend at times.
  • Jeff Siegel - Dewayne Dedmon will not finish the season on the Hawks. I thought he should have opted out and found a better contract this summer and firmly believe that a contending team with an injury or two in their big rotation will give up enough to pry Dedmon away from Atlanta.
  • Josh Lane - Kent Bazemore becomes the third best player on the team behind Collins and Prince.
  • Rashad Milligan - Vince Carter will dunk more than five times this season. Seriously though, if I had to give one hot take, I think Young averages 18 points and six assists. I don’t think the Hawks will win enough games for him to win Rookie of the Year but 18 points would put him above Kyle Kuzma and below Donovan Mitchell for second among rookies last year and third below Lonzo Ball and Ben Simmons in assists. I think Young has the green light this year to make mistakes, learn on the fly and eventually find a rhythm around March. His scoring average is still high because he shoots so much and he gets to the free throw line. He should also average around four turnovers a game, which is right where Quavo wants him, near the elite players of the league. Ice Trae Da Gang.
  • Sam Meredith - John Collins averages 18 and 8 and becomes a first time All-Star in his second season. Also, this is more of a wish than a prediction, Collins participates in the slam dunk competition and wins it.
  • Xavier Cooper - I can truly see Trae Young winning the rookie of the year award. The Atlanta Hawks are no longer under that strict Coach Budenholzer system that encourages sharing that ball and not playing iso-ball. Lloyd Pierce seems like the opposite of Budenholzer. I expect Young to be granted as many shots as he wants to take this season. In summer league he didn’t strike me as the type of player to stop shooting because he missed the first 5 shots. He will shoot the ball until he hits something, and if he’s doubled he’ll use his strength as a passer to make the best play he can possibly make. Young has the green light to do whatever he wants on this team until he proves to Pierce that he doesn’t need to be given that type of responsibility.
  • Zach Hood - Taurean Prince backs up his shooting numbers from the second half and finishes top 25 in the NBA in three-pointers made and three-point percentage. People seem to be skeptical of “second-half Taurean Prince,” as the club kind of mailed it in and let him shoot at an astronomical rate compared to earlier in his career. I don’t think the percentages are a fluke. He’s been a good three-point shooter since his Baylor days, and for whatever reason some people don’t like to view him that way.