After reaching the Conference Finals, the Atlanta Hawks started the season with great expectations. Despite a strong season for Trae Young, the results have so far been sobering. The management already indicated possible trades, there should be changes – whether small or large.
With success, demands grow, as Pat Riley already knew in the eighties when he led the Showtime Lakers from championship to championship. Today’s Heat-President called it “Disease of more” and meant above all that every player wants to get more minutes, more touches or more throws as soon as the successes arise.
Riley diagnosed a championship team, and the Atlanta Hawks are still a long way from it. But: Quite a few saw the Hawks as a good playoff team again. Why not? In Trae Young, Atlanta has one of the best young players in the NBA who doesn’t have to hide from anyone in the playmaker position. In addition, there are numerous young and developable players who could be trusted to make another leap, as well as some veterans.
And yet the Hawks are stuck in twelfth place in the East – only a few months after the somewhat surprising run into the Conference Finals, when they were able to win two games from the eventual champion Milwaukee there. It is another reminder that success cannot be planned and the development of a team is not linear. The Hawks have kept their team in the same line-up with minimal changes, but with a few exceptions Atlanta cannot repeat what made them the hottest team in the NBA last year after switching to coaching Nate McMillan.
There were warning signs early in the season. “The regular season is much more boring than the playoffs. It is sometimes difficult to find the right motivation for it,” said Young after only nine (!) Season games and not in January or February, when the lengths of a season come to light.
Atlanta Hawks compared to last year
|20/21 under Pierce||112,7 (11.)||112,9 (23.)||-0,3 (15.)|
|20/21 under McMillan||115,9 (8.)||111,3 (10.)||+4,5 (7.)|
|21/22||112,6 (3.)||113,1 (28.)||-0,5 (18.)|
Atlanta Hawks: Corona is not an excuse
And yet the statement hits the nail on the head. The proclaimed boredom makes the Hawks appear far too lethargic, especially in their own half. Atlanta has the worst defense in the NBA after Houston and Portland. Last year they were at least a respectable 13th after the installation of McMillan. The Hawks have already received at least 130 points seven times this season, four times in the past two weeks alone.
Of course, several rotation players were missing recently, but Atlanta is still considered a deep team and is not the only victim of the rampant omicron wave. General Manager Travis Schlenk does not use this as an excuse anyway, but a surprisingly clear interview made waves at least in Georgia last week.
“Nobody feels responsible for giving everything in defense,” Schlenk etched in a radio interview 92.9 The Game. “If someone scores against you, then it just goes on on the other side. It just doesn’t bother us with anyone.” You rarely hear a GM that clearly during a season, which speaks for deeper problems in the squad. On the offense, however, the so far disappointing season can not be determined, Young is almost single-handedly.
Last seen in Portland, when the 23-year-old just shook 56 points and 14 assists from his wrist. On this side of the field, the Guard plays on an All-NBA first-team level. An average of 28 points and 9.6 assists with decent odds are a board. Without Young, on the other hand, the biscuit crumbles, neither Lou Williams nor Delon Wright can even remotely keep the attack going.
Hawks: The defense is too weak for a playoff team
This causes displeasure with the Hawks star, who stated after the defeat in Portland that he would prefer to play the full 48 minutes. “It’s frustrating and not fun. We’re a great offensive team, but we’re allowing way too much behind,” said the guard, who is also part of this problem.
Young never becomes a good defender, but the use is sometimes questionable or hardly available. Of course, it takes strength to make an offense as dominant as “Ice Trae” does evening after evening, but if you let your opponent do it so listlessly in the second attack of the opponent, as here against the Lakers, it is a fatal one Signs for your own teammates.
Young should not be used as a scapegoat for the defensive problems, rather it is a problem that runs through the squad. De’Andre Hunter has been missing the best defender for months, while Clint Capela in the center position is no longer anywhere near the level that brought him into the all-defense discussion last year.
The Swiss always have problems with the Achilles tendon and just don’t look lively. In 2020/21 the Hawks were almost 10 points better defensively with him, now Atlanta is even better in the minutes without Capela. After all: the center’s ring guard is still solid, only it doesn’t move as well outside the zone.