Hawks offseason predictions: Trae Young’s look, De’Andre Hunter’s future, untouchable trade

This may be a change of franchise for the Hawks, who have a lot of decisions to make regarding the future of their roster. They have a legitimate star on Trae Young. They have intriguing players who could fit in with Young, but the playoffs showed a flawed roster.

There has been a lot of talk from both Hawks general manager Travis Schlink and owner Tony Ressler about this season being disappointing and how they will look to improve next season.

Analyzing the state of the Hawks, NBA senior writer John Hollinger, who was the vice president of basketball operations for the Grizzlies from 2012-19, and the Hawks beat writer Chris Kirchner, discussed Atlanta’s overseas priorities, roster building decisions, and what to do with the agency’s core. Free and deals they can make.

Let’s move on to the first part of this two-part series. The second part of the conversation will run on Thursday.

Chris Kirchner: The Atlanta season, which was knocked out of the race to the Eastern Conference Finals, didn’t go according to plan in many ways. The Hawks 4-9 started after some weird games in those first few games where their identity was all over the place, astounding people both inside and outside the organization. (Does anyone remember how many average jumpers they were settling for? Trae Young said the regular season was more boring than the playoffs.) Atlanta lost 10 consecutive home games at one point. They had two different sets of wins in seven games. There was no consistency all season. Kevin Huerter summed it up to me perfectly towards the end of the season, saying that this year has felt like a long climbing season to get out of a hole they’ve never been able to get out of.

The Hawks’ season unofficially ended in Miami in a play where they couldn’t even get a chance to save their season, which was a perfect fit for how the Heat defended them throughout the series.

Young, in particular, was surprisingly put on probation for so long outside a good fourth quarter in Game Three. I think we have to start analyzing him because he is the heart of this team. From what you saw of him against Miami – on both ends of the floor – does that ever change your long-term assessment of him and how the Falcons should build the roster around him?

John Hollinger: Not right. Young was so bad that I wondered if there was an undisclosed injury, but I also think she talked about the limitations of the rest of the list. The Heat can be fully loaded when Trae is off and you don’t have to worry too much about anyone else, especially once Bogdan Bogdanovic’s knee problems flare up again at the end of the series. Having a healthy John Collins may have made a difference, but in the bigger picture, the Falcons need their second, third and fourth players to be consistently more menacing.

Also, this is an additional concern of the supplement than the regular season. In the big picture, Atlanta still had the second best attack in the league with Young in the controls. The fact that the Hawks still barely won half of their games was due to defense.

Kirchner: I think the whole Miami series exposed all the flaws of Atlanta. I thought it was clear from the start that the Falcons need a secondary option that can constantly break players from dribbling, and they simply need better players.

Knowing how Young works, he will use this series as a blueprint for what he needs to improve. I’m not worried about it. My concern is that Young will continue to participate in games when things are not going his way. He is expected to be the captain of this team. He must do a better job of driving it forward.

Switch gears to Game 5 hack player for Hawks: The Pride and Joy of Virginia Cavaliers, De’Andre Hunter. He scored 36 in the closed team game and was the reason the Hawks got a chance to win on the road. He qualifies for an extension this off season, and I would be quite surprised to see Hunter and Hawks agree to a deal unless it’s very friendly with the team. He’s been pretty frustrated this season after dropping out of his meniscus surgery and wrist surgery in season.

Hunter admitted in exit interviews that he feels not great yet in any area, and that’s something I’ve been saying all season. Sure he had his moments where he was a lock-down defender, but he was mostly good at this end. It does not pass well. It doesn’t bounce well. It doesn’t score at the edge very well. Really, the only area he excelled in this season was the 3-second shooting. Maybe the health difference is the difference for him, because I thought he was exceptional to start last season before he got injured.

Someone put this in my mailbag last week: His Game 5 performance was similar to Cam Reddish’s Game 6 performance last season against the Bucks. Those who haven’t watched the Hawks closely marveled at Reddish’s potential when he was well below average almost all season, and the same is happening now with Hunter, who wasn’t performing as poorly as Reddish but was mostly below average. this chapter.

So, a two-part question for you. First, what is your assessment of Hunter and how will you handle his extension? Do you believe in his long-term relationship with the hawks? Second, how should Schlink handle the 2019 draft? They had two top 10 picks; One of them is already off the list, and the hunter was mostly frustrated or injured, and lest we forget the Falcons gave up a long way to move up to fourth.

Hollinger: There are two separate questions regarding Hunter and Extension. First, what is the state of his game? And secondly, what is the condition of his knee? Extending it for several years beyond the following year would require a leap of faith that he could stay healthy for the next decade or so. Schlenk will need to get good answers from the coaches and medical staff about the possibility that Hunter will carry out this deal.

As for his level of play, while that fifth game against Miami was encouraging, that wasn’t what it was in the 57 other games he played. Statistically and from eye test, he looked like a petite man for extended periods. Although he has a theoretical-sized defensive launch package to be a plus-sized winger in 3D and 3D, he really showed that in the single period at the start of the 2020-21 season. He’s a poor ball player, his shot is less than expected (35.9% of 3), while his defense is “good for Hawk” more than really impressive.

As a result, I agree that I do not see a decision on the extension. There is no reason for Hunter to book a low number and no reason for the Hawks to stick to a higher number, even if he puts knee issues aside. Because of the restricted free agency, the Falcons should be in a good position to keep next summer if they prove worth paying. Plus, not paying him makes it easier to put him in a deal, which the Hawks need to be open to because Schlenk and Ressler have made no secret of their desire to pursue promotions.

On the bigger question related to the 2019 draft, I wasn’t a huge fan of the move at the time, and we’re seeing that now in how the deal is executed. I watched quite a few UVA games that year while we were transitioning to the National title (we had to get that there) and never saw the kind of high rise in Hunter that would lead him to make it into the top five.

It was an expensive trade-off too, as the Hawks costing pick numbers 8, 17 and 35 in that 2019 draft, two seconds ahead and took $12 million in dead money in the final year of the Solomon Hill deal. Trading always costs more than the sum of what you think the choice values ​​might be, because that’s usually what it takes to force the other side to take action. But even if we let it go, that was an overpayment. In hindsight 20-20, it would have been much better if the Hawks had taken either Tyler Herro or PJ Washington at 8, and one by Brandon Clarke, Keldon Johnson or Grant Williams at 17. Gafford instead of Bruno Fernando might have helped, too.)

Of course, you can do this with any draft: there will always be someone to take it in later and do better. The basic true story is that Schlink arrived because he wouldn’t take Darius Garland with Trae here and was frustrated with his options other than the Hunter. The fact is that players like Jarrett Culver, Coby White, Rui Hachimura, Jaxson Hayes and Reddish are the next five players selected after Hunter at least to recover the point.

It’s also fair to point out that the three players New Orleans named Atlanta picks in 2019 didn’t quite set the world on fire (Hayes, Nickel Alexander Walker, who eventually traded to Utah, and Didi Lozada)…except that the Hawks also gave up. About a future choice in that trade that Pelicans eventually used to craft Herb Jones at 35 in 2021. Ooopsie. (There is still one option left to resolve this deal, the 47th pick in 2022 which currently belongs to Memphis.)

Kirchner: I don’t think I realized until I said that the Pelicans used one of the second-round picks they got from Hawks-on-Jones. Yikes. I think Jones is really a better individual defender than Hunter, which isn’t great. I think the 2019 draft as a whole was a point under discussion when it came to the Atlanta roster about Young, because none of these guys came out as expected. I still believe in Hunter and feel this off-season is critical to his development, but there is still a long way to go to become the player we saw at the start of the 2020 season.

This leads me to my next point. How do you feel about the gist of this list? Of course, this group was only two wins away from the NBA Finals last season, but that seems to have been the best possible result for Young Hunter, Collins.

Young is clearly here to stay, so let’s keep him out of this conversation. But about Young, is there anyone on this list that you might be very reluctant to switch from? We can include Clint Capela and Onyeka Okongwu in the mix here as well, because both have shown importance in the past two seasons.

Hollinger: I didn’t think there was a single player on this list that I thought was untouchable. The Falcons should improve in defense and they should at least add another reliable wing builder to take some of the load off Trae. Bogdanovic was brought in to be that guy – and he often was – but his knee problems became worrisome enough to wonder how long that could last.

Really, if there was a high-ranking winger or striker at the table, who would you say “there’s no way” to include? Even with Capela and Okongwu, the fact that the Falcons own both makes it easy to trade one of them.

Instead of declaring someone out of bounds, let me say one more thing: I think the hawks need to be a little careful about dousing Collins with their bathwater. He’s not a superstar, but he does a lot of things well, filling in as many different areas as needed and entering his 25-year season.

Kirchner: To your last point, here’s what I said on Monday in my story about anticipating who’s staying and who’s going: “Collins is the best team on the team and someone any right-winger should want to have on their roster.” He sets effective numbers in every season, can play at a high level and turn into a good defender. But if the Hawks have a desire for a second star in Atlanta, Collins may have to be in the deal, because he’s valuable and you usually have to let go of a good player in these kinds of deals. Ideally, he can still be part of the team moving forward, but it can be difficult.

This is a good point to pause our conversation, because we’ll be discussing how the Hawks might be looking to upgrade the roster.

(Trae Young photo: Jasen Vinlove / USA Today)

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