The good news is that the Atlanta Hawks played both the Miami Heat and the Los Angeles Lakers tough within the past week. The bad news is that the losses still continue to add up for the Hawks as they are fighting to avoid the worst record in basketball.
On the positive side, the return of John Collins is just a week away but, unfortunately, many power rankings this week do not reflect my relatively positive outlook.
To get started, John Schuhmann of NBA.com puts Atlanta at No. 27 this week.
There’s nothing wrong with having a little swagger. But when you’re a streaky shooter who plays for a bad team, some of your more boastful moments might get thrown back in your face. Last November, Trae Young hit a long 3-pointer at Staples Center to put his team up four with less than five minutes to go, and he made sure Lakers’ fans saw where he shot it from. The Hawks lost that fourth-quarter lead (in what was their fourth of 10 straight losses) and Young proceeded to make just one of his next 27 3-point attempts (with the one he made being a somewhat fortunate bank shot). On Tuesday, Young said “it’s over” when his team went up six with a minute to go in Miami. The Heat proceeded to score the next 22 points, the Hawks have scored just 92 points per 100 possessions since Young’s declaration, and the Miami loss began what is now a four-game losing streak. The Hawks hung tough with the Lakers on Sunday, but Cam Reddish missed a wide-open 3-pointer to tie the game and he’s just one of six Hawks who have shot 35% or worse on at least 15 shots over the last three.
Michael Shapiro of Sports Illustrated also puts Atlanta at No. 27 while pointing out the positives in De’Andre Hunter’s recent play.
De’Andre Hunter is beginning to show signs of growth after a difficult start. The No. 4 pick in June’s draft is averaging 16.6 points per game in December, and he erupted for a career-high 28 points against the Heat on Dec. 10. Hunter’s defensive prowess made him a valuable commodity for Atlanta in the draft. His NBA ceiling will hinge on his development as a shooter.
The folks at ESPN drop the Hawks to No. 29 this week.
Atlanta’s John Collins will be eligible to play next Monday at Cleveland after completing his 25-game suspension for testing positive for a banned substance. The struggling Hawks, who are tied with the Knicks for the worst record in the Eastern Conference, could desperately use him. Collins averaged 17.0 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.0 blocks in five games this season. -- Spears
CBS Sports also puts Atlanta near the bottom at No. 28 while wondering where the Hawks will go from here.
Four more losses for the Hawks this week, but at least they played the Heat and Lakers close. It’s pretty bleak in Atlanta right now, and the organization has reportedly assured Trae Young that help is on the way. Other than John Collins returning in the near future, we’re not sure what they could mean by that, but the Hawks are certifiably one of the worst teams in the league after garnering some faint playoff buzz to begin the season.
Wrapping things up, Yahoo puts Atlanta at No. 26 on their list this week, while pointing out Kevin Huerter’s new injury.
Not only did the Hawks lose to the Lakers on Sunday, but they may have also lost Kevin Huerter for a bit. Atlanta’s young wing left Sunday’s game with a left shoulder contusion and was unable to return. Unfortunately, this is the same shoulder that he had a rotator cuff issue with earlier this season.
Well, that does it for this week’s rankings. The Hawks have had a tough season and now find themselves in the bottom five across the board. That, of course, isn’t much fun for Hawks fans — especially if anyone was expecting a playoff run — but, with the improved play of the rookies, Atlanta does have a chance to move up when Collins returns.
As always, be sure to to leave your thoughts below.