In case you missed the bad news, John Collins’ foot injury is more serious than we were led to believe. The high-flying power forward is out indefinitely with a torn plantar fascia.
With Collins possibly done for the season, the Hawks must reevaluate their priorities and goals. They traded away a key rotation player in Cam Reddish and essentially punted on the trade deadline and buy-out market. Instead of staying the course, here are four extreme options they can take to complete the season.
Four Ways Hawks Can Shake Up Season
After Atlanta’s front office pulled off the most expansive trade in 20 years which netted them Clint Capela, the Houston Rockets began experimenting with an extreme form of small ball. Their lineups were so small it earned a new name – Micro Ball.
With Capela no longer in the picture, the 2020 Rockets focused less on pick-and-roll and more on shooting threes and playing with pace. It would be a serious change in the style of play that the Hawks run. Trae Young is the best pick-and-roll ball-handler in the league.
However, defenses are not allowing the Hawks to run the play to perfection as they did so much last season. They are doubling Young and focusing more on Capela. It’s created an offensive logjam.
In this scenario, the Hawks put out a lineup consisting of Trae Young, Kevin Huerter, Bogdan Bogdanovic, De’Andre Hunter, and Onyeka Okongwu. The Hawks shoot the third-highest three-point percentage in the league, yet are 19th in attempts. Increase the pace and embrace the madness.
According to Clint Capela, he expected the team to be bad on defense this year. He is one of the more defensive-minded players on the team and is often cleaning up the mess of the perimeter players.
Despite the Hawks ranking bottom-four in defensive rating, we have seen few attempts to shake things up defensively. In the words of Ned Flanders’ parents, “We’ve tried nothing, and we’re all out of ideas.”
Try this rotation on for size. Trae Young, Delon Wright, De’Andre Hunter, Onyeka Okongwu, and Clint Capela. Spacing is thrown out the window, but there will be stops made on the defensive end of the floor.
It’s disheartening that the Hawks’ rookies have played so few minutes this season. Jalen Johnson has played 68 total minutes, and Sharife Cooper has played 35 total minutes. That ranks 73rd and 83rd among rookies, respectively.
Instead of allocating minutes to Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Kevin Knox, how about the team prioritize the development of their rookies?
To be clear, this is the most extreme option. I don’t want the Hawks to tank, nor do I think they will. The Wizards beat them to the punch when they shut down Bradley Beal for the year after sustaining a wrist injury. However, shutting down certain players and prioritizing the development of younger players would help them prepare for the next season and beyond.
If the season ended today, the Hawks would likely have the 13th pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. According to Tankathon, that would leave the Hawks in a prime position to select Kendall Brown of Baylor University.
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