Buying or Selling? | Hawks Big Picture Predictions

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Updated: August 31, 2021
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There were those around the league that were high on the Hawks going into the 2020-21 season, but none of them would’ve felt confident enough to place them in a competitive Conference Finals. The term exceeding expectations is a modest expression for what this Trae Young led squad achieved in the post-season and in the fashion it was done in. Especially after the slow start to last season and the firing of their head coach at the All-Star break, Atlanta looked like they’d be begging for a play-in slot, and instead, they found themselves taking Giannis and the NBA champion Bucks 6 games. Despite missing 2 of their primary wings and a third one hobble, there were moments in the Conference Finals where they looked like the better team. But maybe the most impressive shift of this young Atlanta franchise was Trae’s evolution under new head coach Nate McMillan, and his growth as a floor general.

The slight undersized point-guard who will forever be tied historically to a draft-night exchange that sent Slovenian phenom Luka Dončić to Dallas had already been labeled an empty stats low impact volume shooter. Even those who still had kept their Trae Young stock since before the draft never would’ve predicted him to be a leader and ice-cold killer in his first playoff appearance. But that’s exactly what he was. The nature that appears to be innate in Young’s villain like mentality that exposed New York in the Garden has had such an influential effect on the perception of his name and the caliber of player he may become, it has forced us to revisit the draft-night exchange and question if Cam Reddish + Trae might actually end up being equal to the presumed future MVP of the league Luka Dončić. At the very least though, even with the trade back, Atlanta has clearly got one of the top 2 players in the draft class.

The question now though is one that always must be addressed cautiously after the glass ceiling of a team’s expectations has been shattered…was this playoff push something that will be replicated come springtime, or was this success circumstantial? Considering most of the pods and analysts around the league do not have the Hawks slotted in the tier one teams in the East, despite their recent success, a large purchase of black horse title stock in the Hawks might be a gamble worth exploring. Below is the case study for why.

Buying Black Horse Stock

 20, 22, 22, 23, 23, 23…those are the ages of the best young core in basketball, with Onyeka Okongu, Cam Reddish, Trae Young, De’Andre Hunter, near max-money John Collins, and the Red Mamba Kevin Huerter. Their players under contract below the age 30, include 6’6 combo guard Bogdan Bogdanovic, 27-year-old Clint Capela, and Delon Wright. The first list of 6 in their young core has yet to even scrape at the topsoil of their prime and even with just the slightest amount of internal improvement from this group as a whole could have an exponential impact on the floor next season. Historically, this internal growth should be a probable outcome, not only due to age and years in the league, but young positive playoff experiences have a clear tendency of accelerating a player’s talents and confidence in big moments.

The scariest thing for this Black Horse contender in the East is that this success came even with an overwhelming number of injuries. De’Andre Hunter only played two games in playoffs and Cam Reddish didn’t even touch the floor. Bogdan Bogdanovic was a shell of himself obviously affected by the injury he had just come off of, and yet they lit up the Knicks in such a way that the league had to revoke Julius Randle’s All-NBA selection. There were concerns about restricted free agent John Collins and if the Hawks would be willing to pay the prestigious price tag for his services. Although at 25-mill-per he mostly will not be a favorable contract, there are few players around the league that mesh the way Collins and Trae do on the offensive end of the floor.

We keep hearing if the Nets stay healthy, they’re essentially unbeatable. And it’s understandable. On paper, they have 3 guys who have cases for being top 50 players all-time, with Durant already clearly solidified in the top 20. However, what indication have we been given that those 3 will ever all be healthy all at once? Irving’s knees have been scoped as many times as Durant has All-Star appearances, and Harden although ultra-productive, hasn’t lost his fluffy physique since he forced his way out of Houston. The Hawks, on the other hand, made it to the Conference Finals despite being hobbled and young. The question in this subjective space of ideologically purchasing stock in a team is relative, and there is a good reason why the Nets are the safe bet to make it out the East. However, relative to the value created by the current perception of the two franchises, it’s hard not to like the odds on Atlanta and the dividends such a gamble might provide.

Trae Young Stock

With such stylish and memorable performances, no one will ever look at Trae Young the same. So, although I expect his development to continue, buying stock in him for the regular season would presumably result in an L. Especially considering the new rule change of prohibiting inorganic movement created by shooters outside the arc, Young will need time to adjust to losing at least 4 free points a game at the charity stripe. All that said, I am under the impression this rule change will actually aid in his long-term growth. Too often these top-tier shooters become psychologically distracted in their attempts to draw fouls. This fixation appears to have a compromising effect on their shooting percentages and their focus on scoring and facilitating. With Trae’s super-power actually being located in his playmaking and commanding an offensive, him being forced to create without throwing his body into defenders should provide him exponentially more opportunities throughout the season to expand his already exceptional bag. If it’s regular season stock for sale, I’m a seller as well, but prior to the postseason, I’m buying as much as the market will allow.

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