The NBA season is finally here this week and that means opening season power rankings!
Last year, the youthful Atlanta Hawks became the favorites of NBA hipsters with their fast, energetic and shockingly competitive play towards the end of the season. The league has now taken notice and some are anxiously anticipating a jump or at least positive improvement for this young core.
One such person is Andrew Joseph of USA today who puts the Hawks at No. 20 overall to open the season.
The Hawks, on the other hand, should expect to trend upward in 2019-20. They may miss out on the playoffs, but they’ll be in the hunt. Trae Young played like an All-Star in the last couple months of the season, and John Collins is quietly becoming one of the East’s most exciting frontcourt players. The additions of De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish give Atlanta a talented lineup with Kevin Huerter in the mix. But their undoing may come with turnovers and lack of backcourt depth. When Young is off the court or having an off night, you’re giving up a lot by turning to Deandre’ Bembry.
With the excitement comes some questions and Tommy Beer of Rotoworld (via Yahoo brings up some legitimate thoughts on the young team that is ranked at No. 23.
We know the high-powered Hawks will put up plenty of points. The question is whether they’ll be able to stop anybody on the defensive end. Last season, Atlanta was one of only three teams in the league to allow more than 113 points per 100 possessions.
There are also some concerns from Colin Ward-Henninger of CBS Sports, who puts the the Hawks at No. 23 as well as bringing up Atlanta’s scoring issues in the pre-season.
The Hawks struggled to generate points during the preseason, but we’re not worried about that with Trae Young and John Collins on the court. They’ll also likely get back Kevin Huerter some time in the near future, which makes a huge difference for them offensively with his spacing and playmaking. De’Andre Hunter already looks like he’s fitting in nicely, and should help the Hawks on both ends.
In addition, John Schuhmann of NBA.com also points out the Hawks could be in for a rough start and puts them at No. 24 overall.
Offensive numbers were pretty ugly across the league in the preseason, but the Hawks do not appear primed to pick up where they left off last season (when they had a top-10 offense over the last three months). They ranked 28th in preseason efficiency (counting only games played between NBA teams), scoring only 91 points per 100 possessions, and the offense wasn’t any more efficient in Trae Young’s minutes on the floor than it was in his time on the bench. Given this team’s issues on the other end of the floor, an inability to flip the switch offensively could lead to a rough next couple of months. The Hawks play six of their first eight games at home, but still have a very tough first seven weeks of the season. Fifteen of their first 22 games are against teams that finished at or above .500 last season, another three are against teams -- the Heat and Lakers -- expected to finish with winning records this year, and they have five back-to-backs in that stretch.
Finally, if you head over to ESPN.com, we see both projections and questions for the team. Below is just a small part so be sure head over to read the rest to see why they are at No. 23 overall before the opening tip-off.
Youth movements are exciting and idealistic by nature, but they can go in any number of directions. The Hawks enter Year 2 of their movement with a lot of promise -- they finished strong and added even more skilled young players this offseason to bolster their nucleus of Trae Young, John Collins and Kevin Huerter. Will that influx of talent vault them to greater heights, or will it produce more questions than answers as the Hawks try to graduate from selling hope to selling success?
I think it is fair to see the young Hawks in the bottom half of the rankings, but it will be interesting to see if Atlanta can move up in the rankings as the season goes along.
Anyway do you think the rankings are fair or just completely off?
Let us know.