Atlanta Hawks: Biggest Questions For 2022-23

The Atlanta Hawks took a step back last season, following up an appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals in 2021, by slipping into the Play-In in 2022, and bowing out in five games in the first round of the playoffs.

Then came the trade for Dejounte Murray. Adding an All-Star who's a threat for a triple-double on any given night, to pair with superstar Trae Young, gives the team a backcourt that's the equal of any in the league. Young, in fact, turned 24 today.

With the offensive capabilities of the Young-Murray duo, the team should be ready to make a move back up the standings this year. But there are questions. And it all starts on the other side of the ball.

Big Question #1: Will they play any defense?

The Hawks finished the regular season last year surrendering an average of 112.4 points per game. That ranked them 29th in the NBA out of 30 teams. Not good.

They do have Clint Capela, one of the best rim protectors in the game, but he needs some help up front.

In the backcourt, the defense will be much improved with the addition of Murray. He was the youngest player in NBA history ever named to an All-Defensive Team in 2018, and although he's fallen short of a selection since then, he brings very good on-ball D. 

Signing Aaron Holiday for some backcourt depth should also help. Like his ring-bearing brother Jrue, Holiday brings an intensity on defense, with strength and quickness that allows him stay in front of his man. 

The Hawks definitely need to hone a defensive identity overall if they're to take the next step.

Big Question #2: How long will John Collins remain a part of the team?

The power forward has been on the trade block since before February's trade deadline, and had even suggested he would welcome a trade. But he's still in a Hawks uni, and is hoping to bounce back from a troubling season. The 24-year-old only played in 54 games due to a plantar fascia injury, and posted his lowest point total (16.2) in four years when he did play. 

His future with the Hawks will remain in question, despite his 5-year, $125M contract, which still has four years to run. 

The Hawks could make a move back up the standings this season—if they answer their defensive questions. 

Photos: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports, Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports