First of all there is no doubt that we need to assess three positions in mind and that's SG, PF and C. While I might say it is in that order as well, I think that we need some clarification as well. And that comes in the form of young PF Onyeka Okongwu, who I think really needs some sort of evaluation moving forward. The front office spent a 6th overrall pick on this guy and we really have not utilized him more yet other than a starting C when Clint is injured. I believe this upcoming season the Hawks have to take a leap of faith with him and reintroduce him in the starting lineup. Now the real question is do the Hawks want to see him as a center moving forward or a PF? In my honest opinion with where Okongwu was picked I think they would like to get the most out of the guy and that can only come in the fashion of trying to develop him as a PF. I see him in a very similar to Toronto's Pascal Siakam. I don't think Atlanta only wants to use him for only defensive purposes moving forward. There's a lot of fans that would love to see Okongwu develop his offensive side of the game and that can really only happen if he's utilized more as a PF than a C.
If Okongwu ends up being utilized as a starting PF, the question has to be asked.......what do we do with JC? A lot of ATL fans over the past couple of years have grown to love JC and I really love the guy too, but in all honesty he is providing the Hawks with production in a position where it would be much suited to get that out of the SG or SF positions. JC's post game is nice, but he mainly thrives off lobs and getting fed in the post which I think Trae is capable of doing with anyone who is tall and athletic, which is practically everyone in the league right now except for quite a few old heads. With that being said I can probably imagine what a lot of you are thinking right now after reading that and yes I do believe JC's time with Atlanta should come to an end this upcoming offseason. As much as I hate to say that as a Hawks fan, we currently have too much money and expectations tied to JC right now and I just think that asking that much out of him is unreasonable and not fair. The guy has had some incredible highlight moments here in Atlanta, but I think he would be much better utilized in a place where there is more stability across the board between positions 1-5.
Now before I get into the center position for ATL, I do want to address the shooting gaurd position and the small forward position. The way that I am going to do this is by bringing some examples in the league as well as trying to evaluate our point gaurd right now which is in fact our beloved Trae Young and then bring up some players/trade scenario possibilities who I think can be legitimate candidates. To do that first, we have to ask ourselves what type of PG is Trae right now and who does he kind of remind us of in the league in terms of his play right now? Well I think one great example is what happened in Pheonix when CP3 linked up with D-Book. You saw this below average miserable suns team all of sudden sit at the top of the Western Conference and start dominating the league all of sudden. And CP3 has always been known for his ability to pass the ball the around and make players around him look amazing. Take for example BG and Deandre Jordan. Now before you guys say well that was when they were much younger and that was when they really had great chemistry or whatever, you can't tell me that CP3 amplified their respective games and their chemistry. Moving into Houston, he got James Harden to his peak and almost beat the Golden State Warriors in a series. With all that being said, is Trae that type of point gaurd? Is he the type of point gaurd to do what CP3 is doing now and maybe even more. My answer is yes and no. And the only reason why I included no is because he's not that great on defense even though I have seen improvement over the years. What can we learn from CP3 and his success in the league so far and also with what he's done in pheonix? The answer to that question is pretty obvious and that is will Trae's game unlock whole new level if he's paired with another big time shooting gaurd.
Top 4 shooting gaurds in 2022 FA by salary
I don't know how Garry Harris got in that mix but he is in fact being paid a salary of 21 mil per year which definitely means that Zach Lavine's next contract is going to be enormous. There are obviously some big time candidates here who are coming at a hefty price tag, but could be well worth it if it means bringing in a big enough change here in the ATL. My two options out of these 4 would boil down to either Beal and Lavine. I don't think Philly will let JH escape their hands given how much they had to give up for him.
Moving on to our second example is in fact Dame Lillard. All of us have known his endeavors in Portland and basically what he's done there has been nothing short of amazing. However, in D-Lillard's case we have to point out the fact that he did in fact play with somewhat of a legitimate player in CJ McCollum, who's reputation is pretty well established around the league. In this case though it didn't pan out that well and outside of the WCF appearance all those years ago where they got swept, there really hasn't been that much traction since and also maybe the reason why McCollum is no longer a Trailblazer. So what exactly happened here then? Because according to our theme of pairing a PG with an SG and laying out the blueprint for that, it seems like Portland did exactly that, but why didn't it work out? Well it could be for a number of reasons, I mean for starters we can say they always lacked a somewhat decent front court. Unlike Pheonix where they were able draft Deandre Ayton and that worked wonders for them and Mikal Bridges who has been quietly flying under the radar. Or it could also be that they got extremely unlucky and thrived in a era where they were primed to live under GSW's shadow? Either way there could be another billion other reasons for why this couldn't have worked. Interestingly enough I think that Dame actually gives us another example that may not have entered reality yet and that is could he take his game to the next level by pairing up with a big time small forward? Similar to what happened with Kyle Lowry in Toronto, where Derozan couldn't pan out next to him either. Until Kawhi came in and they were finally able to deliver on that championship notice. Maybe that could be the case?......This brings us to our second possible blue print here in ATL where you can pair up a PG like Trae with another SF around the league. Now again the question has to be asked, is Trae in a similar boat to both Dame and Lowry? And are these two much more indicative of past success in the league that maybe Trae could be exhibiting right now.
Top 4 small forwards in 2023 by salary
If you guys are wondering why I included the 2023 FA class and not the 2022 one, well you can go check for yourselves....I think that should explain itself. As far as these three go, I think each and everyone of these guys is a candidate. We do have to mention that Lebron will be 38 years old that point and he will be 39 once the season starts, which I'm not doubting given the fact with what he's done even this year, but its hard to say what things will look like for him at that time even though its only a year away. He could pull a Tom Brady and even set more league records by playing until the age of 44 or 45, but will he still be as effective of a player then? Khris Middleton could really be an attractive option for Atlanta especially since I think he's been the dark horse for my Milwaukee given that Giannis tends to get a lot more of the fame and recognition. Andrew Wiggins along with Harrison Barnes are also very interesting candidates as well and I think would need more attention depending on what happens in 2022 FA for Atlanta. And I also don't want to forget the fact that we are still developing our very own SF in DeAndre Hunter who I think has been great, but still has a long way to go. The PG-SF combo could be something Atlanta could look into if they feel like they want to make another run at a title.
Last but not least I said earlier on Atlanta is going to have to visit the center position and I happened to mention and even address the John Collins and Onyeka Okongwu dilemma if that were to happen. I think Clint is a more than serviceable option for Atlanta at the center position. Personally if we get any of the guys that I mentioned and maybe even more through a trade of some sort then I think we are okay. There are a lot of reports on possibly bringing Rudy Gobert into Atlanta, but I think with that contract is way too big of a cap hit. I personally am not blown away with something like that happening because Rudy to me is a defensive beast, but at the same time there are a lot of questions about his offense. Even though, Clint and JC give ATL a 42 mil dollar cap hit. It is the idea of giving away two players for the sake of one. Not to mention if we develop Okongwu next to Clint with possibly JC out of the picture then I think we got more than enough defense in the front court. In fact at that point I would start to worry about having a little bit more offense at the point. One thing that I will say though is if JC is packaged in a deal and is traded which I think can happen then there can be a possibility where he can drag Bogi, Clint or even Galo in a package deal, but that obviously depends on who we are trading for. The market is big out there and I think we can get a lot if we were to package a first, JC, Clint, Galo and Bogi. That kind of reminds me of that big Cleveland Cavaliers trade that was made when Bron was there.
One last thing I would like to point out is the bench and what I think should happen next year and moving forward. Sharife Cooper and Jalen Johnson both have proved themselves really well in the g-league so far and I think they are deserving of some minutes of the bench. I am almost 100% certain Lou Williams will not be with us next season even though Delon Wright is still there, sharife should definitely get sometime on the floor. With so many possibilities lining up and a big summer coming up for the Hawks to make some important decisions for the team it will be interesting to see what happens. Let me know what you guys think and comment down below if you guys think Trae should play with a big time SF or SG and also give me your thoughts on what should happen with the team moving forward.