In the yearly cycle of previewing the new season, star power is always the starting point. In a league of up to 450 full-time plus 90 two-way players, the cream still rises to the top.
Matt Moore of Action Network released his list of the NBA Elite 100, a list that looks to rank the players for the 2023-24 season based on a variety of regular season and postseason factors. In it, there’s a mild surprise pertaining to the Atlanta Hawks.
30. Trae Young
Playoff ranking: No. 25 | Spread value: +4
You don’t have to love playing with someone to win with them. Young had a really rough year with both injuries and a drop in efficiency last season. I’m expecting a bounceback. His playoff ranking is tied to his 2021 run and he deserves respect for that. This is a make-or-break year for him to still be considered among the league’s elites.
62. Dejounte Murray
Playoff ranking: No. 73 | Spread value: +2
I loved how the Hawks looked with Murray running the offense last year when Trae Young was hurt or on the bench. However, the numbers didn’t love it quite as much. Murray isn’t enough of a shooter to take over a game and isn’t a great enough playmaker to set the offense. There’s more there, but he’s running out of time to grow into it.
89. Onyeka Okongwu
Playoff ranking: No. 125 | Spread value: +1.5
A 10-points-per-game player who started just 18 games last season. But there’s a reason the Hawks are so keen on trading Clint Capela – they know Okongwu is their future starting center. Watch out for him this season.
Long time and now former Atlanta Hawk John Collins also found his way onto the ranking.
80. John Collins
Playoff ranking: No. 144 | Spread value: +1
He fell off a cliff last year in multiple facets. He has top-40 talent, but needs a bounceback with a fresh start.
Trae Young and Dejounte Murray are not surprise inclusions by any means given that both players are shortly removed from All-Star Game appearances. Even after encountering some early struggles when being paired together after the trade with the San Antonio Spurs, both players finished north of 20 points and six assists per game, something that has only been done by one previous duo of teammates in NBA history.
Still for all his talent, suggesting that Onyeka Okongwu will finish as a top-100 player next season would necessitate him becoming the starting center — or at least starter’s minutes. Clint Capela is under contract for two more seasons, and he’s still an upper level starter in the league behind his defense and rebounding. Atlanta could always move Capela to open up minutes for ‘OO’, but I personally don’t see any scenario where they either demote him to a backup role or play him alongside Okongwu for any non-trivial stretch of time.
If I were making a similar list, I would have Trae Young in the top-20, Dejounte Murray in the top-50, and Clint Capela in Okongwu’s place based on how things appear currently. What changes would you make to this list of Hawks in the NBA Elite 100?