The Atlanta Hawks enter the week hovering around the .500 mark, and the roster is slowly starting to get healthy, even if De’Andre Hunter is now battling an injury. One surprise on the season has been Hunter’s stellar play, as he appears so far to be taking a second-year jump. With this in mind, let’s take a look at where the Hawks fall in power rankings this week.
NBA.com — No. 15
Trae Young was in a little bit of a slump a couple of weeks ago, but he’s averaged 37.6 points, shooting 54% from 3-point range and getting to the line for 13.2 attempts per game, over the last five games. In Washington on Friday, Young was beating the Wizards every which way, hitting long 3-pointers, putting up soft floaters, and getting all the way to the basket. His 45.5% shooting in the paint is the fourth worst mark among 76 players with at least 100 attempts there, but he’s made up for it with 88.5% on more than 10 free throw attempts per game. Among the 14 players with a usage rate of 30% or higher, Young’s effective field goal percentage (shots from the field) ranks 12th, but his true shooting percentage (scoring efficiency) ranks eighth.
The Hawks have won four of their last six to give the East six teams with winning records, and they’ve done it with defense as much as Young’s hot shooting. They’ve have seen the league’s second biggest drop in points allowed per 100 possessions, from 114.4 (28th) last season to 108.4 (ninth) this season. With their win in Washington on Sunday, they’ve already held their opponent to a point per possession or less as many times (8) as they did last season.
They’re home for six of their next seven, with two of the best teams in the league in town this week.
ESPN — No. 15
Trae Young went for 41 points in a 116-100 win over the Wizards on Friday, marking the 14th 40-point game of his career. Only Rick Barry, LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Shaquille O’Neal have had more 40-point games at age 22 or younger in NBA history, according to ESPN Stats & Information data. Young now has 403 3-pointers in his career. He did so in just 159 games, the fewest ever needed to reach 400 3s in NBA history — beating Damian Lillard’s mark by four games.
CBS Sports — No. 14
Atlanta beat a shell of a Clippers roster and a struggling Wizards squad this week, but perhaps its most impressive effort was an overtime loss to the Nets with their full complement of star power. The Hawks offense, which had been dormant, exploded with a 116.6 offensive rating this week, while Trae Young is officially out of his slump, averaging 35.7 points and eight assists on 46 percent 3-point shooting in his last three games. Clint Capela continues to be an absolute monster on the boards and defending the rim, while John Collins is starting to regain his chemistry with Young. It’s a shame that De’Andre Hunter will have to miss at least a week with a knee issue as he’s been putting together a breakout campaign thus far.
Sports Illustrated — No. 14
Trae Young made a major leap as a scorer in his second season, and he continues to grow as a prodigious scoring talent in 2020–21. Young tallied 72 points in his first two games, leading a new-look Atlanta roster to easy victories over Chicago and Memphis. Young hasn’t gotten off to a blistering start from three, though his predilection for getting to the foul line should continue to pay dividends throughout his career. Young is far more than a long-range novelty. He’s an offensive phenom, leading the way for a potential Atlanta revival in the next decade.
The Hawks seem to have made a jump in the rankings. Atlanta does have a tough upcoming schedule, though, so this could be a great opportunity to jump in the rankings if they can perform at a high level.