Each NBA season brings its share of questions and intrigues. It’s the same thing all the time, a few days before the recovery. Which player will perform? Which coach will be fired? Who am I ? In which shelf? Where squash? For each of the 30 franchises, we have selected the 5 big questions for 2022-23: the seat of the day is awarded to the Atlanta Hawks.
#1 Can Trae Young and Dejounte Murray live together?
This is THE big question of the season for the Hawks: whether Trae Young, their big star for four seasons now, will be able to live with Dejounte Murray, the All-Star who has come to strengthen the squad and who can legitimately be considered the most big transfer of the summer. Two very different profiles who will have to coexist in the backcourt to bring Atlanta back to center stage.
Trae Young will continue to represent the insolence capital of the franchise by ensuring the shots from 11 meters that make string, the small bridges on the defenders believing to have a chance as well as the passes straight from the Multiverse. Accustomed to carrying everyone on his frail shoulders, the goblin will also be relieved of part of the creation and will be more likely to receive the ball in catch and shoot. Already the other big patient is able to score off balance even if he is about 2 kilometers behind the 3-point line, imagine two seconds if he receives the ball with his feet well screwed, in a leather massage chair , turnkey, ready to draw effortlessly. The Zouave can potentially turn 200% at 3 points, and we only ask to feast. Very Young will have to learn to play a lot more without the ball, but there is little doubt about his game intelligence.
While Dejounte Murray will take care of the all-around side by grabbing the rebound, dropping his few passes and scoring his points while taking care of padlocking the best opposing player. The former San Antonio must be the gondola head of the new defense of the Hawks and his spirit straight out of the street must make it a good nutcracker team to play. Stepping out of the Spurs Care Bear mold, he seems to let go of his gangster side and open his pie box at all costs, as we saw at the Seattle Pro-Am this summer (ask rookie Paolo Banchero what he thinks about it ). A dirty side that the Pigeons may well need if they want to be taken seriously for the race to the Playoffs. The arrival of DM5 will undoubtedly make it possible to prioritize this very promising workforce and to precisely delineate responsibilities, while relieving Trae Young of some, so that everyone focuses even more on their strengths and that everyone’s weaknesses are “hidden”.
#2 Will John Collins still be there in February 2023?
Present in transfer rumors since 1964, John Collins is still a player for the Atlanta Hawks. However, he has never been able to make his way to All-Star Weekend before except at the 2019 Slam Dunk Contest to blow up cardboard planes. JC is always present to ensure the highlights and put his fifteen points when he wants. However, his defensive lapses are problematic for a player who once claimed top salary and his motivation has been steadily declining for some time, despite being praised by his GM Landry Fields.
John Collins is tied to the Georgia franchise through 2026 on $25 million a season, for stats of 16.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game. This is the second consecutive season that his stats are down. The strong winger wants to be more than just a lieutenant for Trae Young, so the Hawks have decided… to recruit Dejounte Murray, who will again shake up the hierarchy to push Collins back a notch. The break then seems consumed between the player and his franchise, the latter having tried to find a base for his outfielder. Only problem, its rating has dropped over time and fewer teams are interested. Few teams are able to assume such a salary/contribution ratio. Except, randomly, the Kings (but kind really randomly). The franchises do not jostle at the gate and that does not necessarily help the Hawks. However, you know very well that anything can happen during a trade deadline and that it is still possible that the Hawks are looking for a more complementary player in this squad. However, with another 4 years of contract, we hope that a viable solution for both sides will be found.
#3 Can Nate McMillan survive if the season starts badly?
Propelled head coach of the Hawks after the dismissal of Lloyd Pierce, the former assistant found a role of head coach. This time, Nate McMillan is at the head of his team from the start of the season, and he has an addition of choice in the person of Dejounte Murray. The former Spurs point guard and new All-Star joins an already well-stocked and balanced roster, combining youth and experience. Dejounte Murray arrives to form with Trae Young what is considered by some to be the potential best backcourt in the NBA, John Collins, as seen above, has long been in all the trade rumors but is still a Hawks player at the moment. actual hour. Clint Capela was also announced as a starter but is expected to stay on to be the team’s control tower. De’Andre Hunter and Onyeka Okongwu continue to improve, Bogdan Bogdanovic is still valuable off the bench thanks to his shooting streaks and AJ Griffin has arrived to bring a new all-around weapon off the bench.
Suffice to say that there are people on the balcony and that Nate McMillan will have to find the right formula to bring the Piafs back to the Playoffs and make this franchise a team whose path we do not want to cross in April. Obviously, we are not asking for the 24-0 Warriors 2015-16, but at least two-thirds of the games will have to be won or risk having to leave. The workforce is built to be able to legitimately play the Playoffs or even more. The ambition of the Hawks will probably be to hit 50 wins and grab home field advantage in the postseason in the wake of an incandescent Trae Young and a Dejounte Murray in Seattle Pro-Am mode. If after about twenty games, the balance sheet of the Hawks is negative, then Nate McMillan will most likely be asked to take his dirty underwear.
#4 Can this team defend?
Last season, the Hawks’ defense was one of the worst in the NBA and allowed quite a few open houses at Philips Arena. Trae Young does not have the physique cut out to compete with the dragsters in his position, John Collins is simply not a thunderbolt in addition to being a little lazy on this side of the field and De’Andre Hunter makes good serves but is injured too often.
This season, the situation could well change, Dejounte Murray has arrived and will notably have the task of setting the tone defensively. His stature and watchdog mentality can breathe new life into Georgia and everyone will need to catch up. The Swiss Clint Capela is always there to play the checkpoints, to intimidate the brave opposing attackers wishing to venture into “his” racket and can count on his understudy Onyeka Okongwu to continue his work, at least when he is in good shape. De’Andre Hunter is more than capable of rendering good service to protect his basket (at least when he plays). Also add AJ Griffin, team player par excellence who will defend without complaining, and you will have a defense that is already better than last season. We’re obviously not talking about an all-time defense that will only concede 80 points per game, but the progress should be visible just with the addition of the former Spurs, and that’s the whole squad. who should at least get in tune with a view to getting the Playoffs and more.
#5 Will De’Andre Hunter finally turn a corner?
Selected in fourth position in the 2019 Draft, De’Andre Hunter turned last season to Averaged 13.4 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game in the regular season. These are great statistics, but is it enough for a 4th pick after 3 NBA seasons in the legs? Some will say no, others will rather put forward the fact of being a good fit for his franchise. And he proves when he plays (when he is not injured) that his game is very clean and well-honed, that he fits well into the franchise and that his contribution on both sides of the field is well established. . His ability to know how to raise his level of play when the context requires it also plays in his favor. Indeed, De’Andre Hunter proved during the last Playoffs that he is of the caliber of those who do not crack under the pressure of major events, bringing his statistics to 21.2 points on 55.7% on shots including 46.2% from Magic City in the first round against Miami.
With the arrival of Dejounte Murray, and if John Collins stays, there is little chance of seeing De’Andre the Hunter’s stats skyrocket, and it is even possible that they will experience a slight drop. However, he should keep his place in the starting 5 and ensure a real role on both sides of the field by being much more than a simple 3 & D. Among ambitious Hawks, it is not really a question of seeing Hunter turn in 20-5-5, but rather to see him adapt to his new missions and to render proud services when he is needed. The last Playoffs of the one who was drafted by the Lakers go in this meaning, that is to say to see him become even more of an exemplary teammate. However, there remains the problem of injuries, as Hunter has only played 76 games over the last two seasons. Which can be embarrassing for a player who claims around twenty million dollars per season…