Here we are at the second “half” of the 2019-20 season. Yes, I know that technically we are beyond the halfway point, but it is just easier to say since there is a massive break in the season due to the all-star weekend.
The Atlanta Hawks managed to secure a couple of wins, which is a great way to begin the post-break run. With all of that said, let’s take a look at where the Hawks stack up through the eyes of power rankings across the league.
The folks at ESPN get things started for us on this ranking by putting Atlanta at No. 25 overall.
Forward John Collins has averaged 25.4 points and 10.7 rebounds in February. He tied his career high with 35 points against Dallas on Saturday, and Collins has six games with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds in nine outings this month.
Next, Colin Ward-Henninger of CBS Sports moved Atlanta up to No. 24 in his latest ranking.
The Hawks came out of the break hot, picking up their 16th and 17th wins against the Heat and Mavericks, respectively. Trae Young went off for a career-high 50 points in the win over Miami, a signature game in what’s been a terrific offensive year for the All-Star. John Collins, Young’s running mate, tied his career-best with 35 points in the win over Dallas to go along with 17 rebounds and two blocks.
John Schuhmann of NBA.com took notice of the winning run and moved the Hawks up to No. 22 overall.
We got Luka Doncic vs. Trae Young twice on All-Star weekend, but not at all in the regular season, with Doncic missing both meetings (both this month) between the two sophomore All-Stars. The Hawks took advantage on Saturday (when the Mavs were also without Kristaps Porzingis), came back from 13 down in the fourth quarter, and got 11 points from Young in the final four minutes to get their second straight win over a quality opponent.
The Hawks have more wins (nine) in their last 18 games as they had in their first 40, even though they rank 27th defensively over the latter stretch. Young has led the offensive improvement, averaging 32.3 points over the 18 games, highlighted by his 50-points against the Heat on Thursday. Most encouraging from that win may have been the play of the Hawks’ rookies, with De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish combining for 33 points on 13-for-24 shooting and making huge plays - Hunter drained a 3-pointer for the tie and Reddish stripped Goran Dragic and went the other way to put the Hawks ahead - down the stretch.
The Hawks have their third two-game winning streak of the season, but making it three straight for the first time would require a win in Philadelphia, where the Sixers are 26-2.
Tommy Beer of Yahoo Sports talks about the positives of John Collins as he puts Atlanta at No. 24.
John Collins tallied a whopping 35 points, 17 rebounds, two blocks and three 3-pointers in Saturday’s comeback victory over the Mavs. Per Basketball-Reference, Collins became the first player in Atlanta franchise history with at least 35 points, 15 boards and three triples in a non-overtime game. Over his last seven games, Collins is averaging 25.9 points and 10.6 rebounds while shooting 63.6% from the floor and 82% from the FT line. Not to be outdone, Trae Young is averaging 35.9 points, 10.0 assists and 4.6 treys, while shooting 41% from downtown and 92% from the charity stripe.
Finally, Sports Illustrated puts the Hawks at No. 27 this time around.
Trae Young’s defensive deficiencies leave the Hawks’ ultimate ceiling in question, but there’s no denying just how electric Young can be on the offensive end. He’s one of the game’s most inventive passers and a fearless shooter, making threes from the logo with ease. Young’s 50-point effort against the Heat on Thursday is far from his last.
It looks as if the Hawks are garnering a little more respect this week. The rest of the season will be progress evaluation for the young players and this first week has been very encouraging.
Random optimistic highlight of the week:
As always, leave your thoughts below and until next time...