In the doldrums of summer, the Peachtree Hoops staff came together for a 10-part roundtable series, answering a series of prompts with an eye toward the upcoming season for the Atlanta Hawks.
Part nine allows for scorching proclamations.
Jeff Siegel: John Collins makes the leap and is much improved over last season, only it will mostly go unnoticed by the masses. He flashed just enough defensive aptitude in the last two months of the 2018-19 campaign to turn me from a skeptic to a tepid believer in his improvement on that end of the floor. A fully healthy season and a renewed focus on that end of the floor will see him make the sort of strides necessary to become the all-around power forward the club wants him to become.
Graham Chapple: The Hawks sneak into the playoffs behind All-Star caliber seasons from Young and Collins, with solid play from the supporting cast. Given the defensive concerns, that sounds a little mad but it’s always good to remember that the Hawks not only play in the Eastern Conference but a pretty mediocre/poor Southeast Division. Anything is possible (but I’m not confident).
Rashad Milligan: My bold prediction is that Jabari Parker will be a finalist for Most Improved Player. He’s not even 25 yet, and with low expectations, I believe that the improvement of this team, in addition to his scoring average, will put the respectable young man in the discussion.
Zach Hood: Jabari Parker finishes top three in Sixth Man of the Year voting.
Toby Adeyemi: My bold prediction is that Cam Reddish will receive serious consideration for Rookie of the Year. He will win at least one Rookie of the Month award and average 15 plus points for the team. He’ll have multiple 30 point games and make the Rising Stars Challenge. He might not win the ROY, but my bold prediction would be a top-3 finish in voting.
Sam Meredith: Kevin Huerter wins most improved player and Trae Young wins the Rising Stars Game MVP at NBA All-Star weekend.
Matt Harris: Atlanta finds a way to win just enough games to sneak into the playoffs. If last year’s Pistons (!!!) can do it, I think this team can find a way to win enough games. The Hawks got off to a rough start a year ago, but Trae Young found his footing and the team improved after a rough start. Now with second-year performance from Young, 42 wins could realistically get a spot in the east.
Glen Willis: Three (yes, three) different players have a 50-point game this season, and they will be Collins, Young and Huerter. The offense last season functioned at extremely high levels in some games last season. Collins will have a game during which an opposing defense just can’t keep him off of the rim. Young will have a game in which the 3-point shot is falling and he gets aggressive. Huerter will have one of those as well.
Andrew Kelly: John Collins makes the All-Star team. I’ll leave myself some breathing room knowing that he could always get in as an injury replacement. Following a breakout sophomore season, Collins is ready to firmly establish himself as one of the game’s premier offensive bigs. A defensive improvement would go a long way in putting him over the top against some of his competition. After the All-Star break, Collins was much improved as a defender. I’m betting he’ll carry that defensive impact over to October and turn in a standout season.
Dylan Hughes: The Hawks have a fast start to the season and make a somewhat big trade in December or January to further solidify their chances of making the playoffs.
Greg Willis: For the first time in years, I expect the Hawks to be a buyer rather than a seller at the trade deadline. I don’t expect the Hawks to be in the mix for a playoff spot, but I believe they will be close enough to look to add a veteran player who can help them in the 2020-21 season and beyond. The Hawks have cap space available next summer but their best chance of adding a solid player may be via trade and the Hawks could make that type of move shortly after the calendar turns to 2020.
Brad Rowland: The Hawks make an in-season trade that includes substantial money on the books for 2020-21. Atlanta famously has $70+ million in cap space but, with the potentially hideous nature of the unrestricted free agent market, Travis Schlenk could look to capitalize on that flexibility. That doesn’t mean the Hawks have to take on money beyond this season and they won’t unless the price is right. For me, though, it’s a sneaky move that Atlanta could make and, for better or worse, this is still an organization in asset acquisition mode.