December is nearly here and, by this point, everyone paying any attention to the Atlanta Hawks realizes that the team looks much different than it did in mid-November. Onyeka Okongwu is now a part of the team’s nucleus for the future and, from there, Travis Schlenk and the front office added Bogdan Bogdanovic, Danilo Gallinari, Rajon Rondo and Kris Dunn to the mix to bolster the rotation for 2020-21 and beyond.
With that as the backdrop, David Aldridge of The Athletic put together a ranking of the league’s 30 teams based entirely on what they did in the offseason. In fact, he expressly says this isn’t a traditional power ranking, but his own explanation lays out the objective.
Aldridge notes the conceit to “Rank how all 30 teams have done since the end of their respective seasons, looking at everything, from how they drafted to what trades they made, to significant free-agent signings and to whether they participated in free agency much at all.” In addition, he expressly considers “the impact of new owners, new coaches, new GMs, potential new revenue streams,” while saying there is “no unassailable metric” to capture these rankings. In fact, Aldridge specifically uses the Hawks as an example of what these rankings are not trying to accomplish, stating plainly that Atlanta isn’t better than the Los Angeles Lakers, even if they had a better offseason.
At any rate, the Hawks come in at No. 3 overall on this list, and Aldridge shares the following about that decision.
The Hawks had a desire to become a playoff team after two years of a rebuild under GM Travis Schlenk and coach Lloyd Pierce. They’re certainly closer now after a slew of moves, bringing Gallinari, Bogdanovic and Snell to a group that finished DFL in the league in 3-point percentage (.333) last season. Atlanta will be better and more diverse offensively surrounding Trae Young, but I can’t automatically say the Hawks are postseason-bound. Dunn might be as impactful a pickup as anyone; he and Rondo and Clint Capela, who didn’t play a second for Atlanta after being acquired from Houston at the trade deadline in February, all should help improve the Hawks’ atrocious D from a season ago, and also allow Kevin Huerter and De’Andre Hunter to slide into more effective roles. But Capela, John Collins and Okongwu can’t all get center minutes. Something, or someone, is going to have to give there.
Even for skeptics of Atlanta’s moves, the consensus certainly dictates that the Hawks are going to be vastly improved from the 2019-20 season. It will be quite interesting to see what Lloyd Pierce does with an exceptionally crowded rotation, but the Hawks now have five players — Young, Collins, Gallinari, Bogdanovic and Capela — that would rank in a consensus top-100 across the league. Oh, and that doesn’t even account for the other youthful talent with Cam Reddish, De’Andre Hunter, Kevin Huerter and Okongwu, all of whom have the upside to become fully cemented starters in the coming years.
The Hawks are among the teams that used the most resources specifically to improve for the upcoming season. In short, that paves the way for this kind of placement on a list ranking the most impactful offseason performances and, well, the expectation is that the Hawks should be in the playoff mix as a result.