NBA Season Preview: Atlanta Hawks

2019-20 Regular Season: 20-47 (.299%), 14th in Eastern Conference, Missed Playoffs
Head Coach: Lloyd Pierce 

2019-2020 Season Review

The Atlanta Hawks had another terrible year in 2019-20, as they have put together a horrid stretch of play, going 73-158 (.316%) since the start of the 2016-17 season. They finished 14th in the Eastern Conference and were playing for the lottery from the start of the season. Playing their home games in the painfully quiet Atlanta Public Library, there hasn't been much for Hawks fans to get excited about, save Trae Young. Is it possible for Young, newly drafted Onyeka Okongwu and the plethora of free agent additions to save the Hawks and bring them back to respectability? With Young, Okongwu, Cam Reddish and John Collins, there is a lot to like about the young core. Below, we take a look at 3 key questions for the Hawks heading into the abbreviated 2020-21 season. 

How good is Trae Young?

Young finished 2nd in Rookie of the Year voting to Luka Doncic in the 2018-19 season, and took the only 2 first place votes not given to Luka. If his rookie year didn't make believers, last year should have sold you - Young is an absolute stud. Making his first of many All-Star games, he averaged 29.6 ppg, 9.3 apg, 4.3 rpg, with 1.1 spg & 3.4 3-point makes per game last year; and he only projects to get better. Tom's Take: Young will become the 4th NBA player in history (Oscar Robertson, Nate Archibald & Russell Westbrook) to average over 30 ppg & 10 apg this season. When you’re included in that company, you’re a lock to make All-Star games for the foreseeable future, and if Young can add some winning into the picture he’ll be able to add All-NBA team nominations to the equation too.

How will Onyeka Okongwu impact the Hawks?

With the 6th pick in the NBA Draft, the Hawks selected Onyeka Okongwu from USC. Okongwu has potential to be the best big man to come out of the draft, although there are already health issues to be concerned about with his foot. One has to hope that Okongwu doesn't go the way of Sam Bowie when it comes to foot injuries, because Okongwu has the potential to replicate what Bam Adebayo has done early in his career with the Heat. If Okongwu can be a sound defensive player for the Hawks, and learn how to be an effective scorer off the ball (there will be a lot of opportunity with Trae Young attracting so much attention), there is a lot to like with this draft pick.

Will the Hawks challenge for the Playoffs?

The young core of the Hawks, and the flurry of signings they made - Bogdan Bogdanovic, Danilo Gallinari and Rajon Rondo - will absolutely help the team into the playoffs this year, after a 3-year absence. Going .500% in the Eastern Conference usually leads to a fight for the 7th/8th seed. Expect the Hawks to go on four and five game winning streaks throughout the season, only to counteract that with losing streaks of the same nature - that's what young teams building chemistry do until they learn how to win consistently. 

Photo Credit: Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire