The 2020-21 NBA season is nearly here and, after the longest break in recorded history, the Atlanta Hawks will return to action in the coming days. Before the regular season tips off on Dec. 23, the Peachtree Hoops is coming together for a ten-part roundtable series, setting the stage for what’s to come. In part six, our staff discusses which of the high-profile veteran additions will make the biggest impact in 2020-21.
Brad Rowland: Clint Capela is my answer. I certainly considered Bogdan Bogdanovic, who may play more minutes than Capela this season, but I’m going with the center, in part because of who he’s replacing. We’ve all mentioned that by now, but the Hawks had arguably the worst center play in the NBA last season, and Capela is an above-average starting center. Moreover, he will be absolutely crucial in helping the Hawks establish a better defensive baseline, and given my well-known love of defense, that matters to me.
Wes Morton: I’m going with Bogdan Bogdanovic. He’ll provide sharp spot up shooting, creativity and smart decision-making with the ball in his hands, and he defends with a bit more effort than is given credit. Bold-ish prediction: I think he’ll emerge as the team’s third best player by the end of the year after Young and Collins.
Glen Willis: I’m going to say Capela. It really can’t be overstated how important it is in the NBA for a team to have an established defensive anchor that can get the team organized on that end from the very beginning of the game. It’s one reason why, these days, we see so many teams that start a traditional defensive center that rarely closes games. If a team can’t start a game functioning as an organized defensive unit, it is next to impossible to get that issue resolved. And that’s been a major issue for Atlanta the last couple of seasons.
Daniel Comer: I’ll go with Dunn here, but mostly because I view backcourt defense as a huge priority in the Southeast, which already had strong offensive players on the wing before adding Russell Westbrook and Gordon Hayward over the past few weeks.
Josh Lane: Capela is a huge impact due to the defensive help and lop target that he will bring for Trae Young. However, I will go with Danilo Gallinari, just because his presence, for better or worse, gives an identity of what the Hawks want to do on the court. The Young/Gallinari pick and pop might be the most devastating shooting combo in the East next year especially if the Hawks select to go all out on offense and include John Collins next to him in the front court. If the Hawks plan to go into a shootout on a nightly basis, then this is the player that will need to be on the floor.
Rashad Milligan: Capela is huge in terms of his defensive mindset and leading by example as well. Something different, but I also think Solomon Hill is going to be an important addition. Lloyd Pierce said Hill was great in a team meeting at the first practice with the point a team with a top 10 offense and defense has a great chance to make the finals. Having the perspective of players and great thinkers from both teams in last season’s finals are a great value.
Graham Chapple: Over the last few seasons the Hawks’ have had some veterans but not always veterans who actually produce/contribute meaningfully on the court. So, with that said, I’ll say Clint Capela, who will obviously play a big part for the Hawks this season in terms of anchoring their defense and being the man to protect the rim if/when the defense is beaten out front.
Ryan Kerley: I’ll say Capela, but one of my reasons is much different. I think Capela will be super helpful in Okongwu’s development. The Hawks seemingly drafted Okongwu with the intention that he will be a long-term option down low on both ends of the floor. Capela has been one of the better centers in the league in recent years, and he can teach Okongwu a lot. Capela also helps shore up the defense and rebounding issues Atlanta has.
Joel Lorenzi: Capela is the clear answer here, and the type of piece that propels the Hawks into playoff talks, especially now with a play-in tournament. Capela is the defensive anchor that the Hawks have lacked, and though he doesn’t completely patch up things everywhere, he can set the tone on that end. Not to mention he is a big roll/lob threat, and will make a fun P&R mate with Young. The Hawks have a very underrated three-headed monster, and Young can create offense while hardly breaking a sweat.
Zach Hood: Capela. If he can be the defensive anchor he was in Houston, that completely changes the Hawks defensively.