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 eight, our staff looks to find Atlanta’s biggest strength as a team this season.
Brad Rowland: The easy answer is Trae Young, especially in a league that rewards star-level talent above all else. I’ll let somebody else take that one and say depth. The 2019-20 season was a prime example of how much depth matters, simply because the Hawks didn’t have any and it killed them. This time around, some even view Atlanta as too deep, but having multiple options at every position is a nice luxury to have, especially in a pandemic-challenged season.
Wes Morton: In a complete reversal from a season ago, it’s depth to me. The Hawks have 13 or 14 truly rotation-ready options in a season with a lot of uncertainty, and enter the year with just two of those above the age of 28. After relying on two rookies and a sophomore as the primary wing rotation, the Hawks enter with logjam at that position, even withstanding Gallinari may slide up to the 3 in some lineups. Should injuries or virus concerns strike, Atlanta will be well-suited to adapt quickly.
Glen Willis: This will have come out of nowhere this season, but I think it’s the team’s diversity of playmakers. Young is as good as it gets at the point guard position. And adding Gallinari, who may be as good offensively in the half court as a big outside of Nikola Jokic, brings the team something so vastly different than what they had last season. He can function in the mid post, run pick and roles or just take on mismatches in isolation. Add in what Bogdanovic offers, along with more of what Reddish and Hunter showed attacking mismatches of their own at the end of last season, and finally the Hawks have a nice distribution of playmaking across each position. And that’s not to mention Rondo as the backup point guard (depending upon how much he plays). Don’t be surprised, given how much this team has turned the ball over the last few seasons, if Gallinari does a lot of the ball handling when they are looking to put games away late in the fourth quarter.
Daniel Comer: I’ll go with shooting. Outside of Young, Collins has developed a nice shot, Reddish has improved, Huerter is lights out when he’s on, Gallinari can shoot it, and so can Bogdanovic. Part of this strength is that they don’t have many weaknesses as far as shooting goes, which means Atlanta should be able to space the floor with several lineups.
Josh Lane: The Hawks offensive lineup of Young, Bogdanovic, Gallinari, Collins, and Hunter/Reddish/Huerter might be one of the better shooting and offensively versatile lineups in the NBA.
Rashad Milligan: I think Atlanta’s biggest strength is scoring. No matter the lineup combination, Lloyd Pierce has a lot of options he can go to for scoring on that unit. Gallinari literally averaged 18 points last season as a third, fourth option on the Oklahoma City Thunder. Boganovic can create his own offense, Young finished top five in scoring last season, Collins averaged 20 points last year, Reddish and Hunter can get 20 points any night, Huerter and Goodwin can score as well.
Graham Chapple: The Hawks’ best strength is their offense, and now their offensive versatility. Led by Trae Young, flanked by wing shooters like Bogdan Bogdanovic, Kevin Huerter, De’Andre Hunter and the improving Cam Reddish, surrounded by depth at the forward/center spot with different skill sets in the form of Danilo Gallinari, John Collins and Clint Capela. Pick-and-roll, screen-and-fade, penetration, kick-outs… The Hawks have so much offensive firepower and versatility within that to play with, led by Trae Young.
Ryan Kerley: Offensive versatility. Young is clearly the leader, but there are a lot of new components to the offense. There are inside scorers, perimeter scorers and new facilitators. All of this will be led by Trae Young and he is one of the most dangerous shooters and playmakers in the league. This team is going to be very interesting. I think it will take a little bit of time before we see how good they really are, but it’s promising.
Joel Lorenzi: I’m going to give a broad answer and say their offense. They’ve truly formed an elite offense this offseason, and it will show as they swap out different guys and Gallinari shares the floor with different groups. If you want to get super specific, the amount of threats they’ve built up for pick-and-roll situations is remarkable. They obviously retained the tandem of Young and Collins, but Young and Capela are very lethal, and Young and Gallinari can make for some good pick-and-pops. They’re going to put a lot of pressure on defenses within the P&R.
Zach Hood: Gotta echo Brad here, Trae Young being on the roster is the biggest strength. He’s the nucleus of the offense, which is obviously extremely important. He’s still underrated nationally but expect that to change this season. Buy all the Young stock you can get.