Sports

The heat is on, but not for every team

Cam Reddish, Trae Young
Illustration: AP/Getty

COVID Response: “If you think we’re going to be able to go back and do what we did before, that’s going to be a recipe for failure,” Atlanta Hawks CEO Steve Koonin told Front Office Sports. The Hawks will be similar to every other team in the league that didn’t make the NBA bubble and will have to adjust to the new protocols. The Hawks organization is well aware of the impact the virus has had on their community and has helped provide support to their arena employees, local healthcare workers, and people in need of meals throughout the Atlanta area.

Staying Away: The Hawks will only allow a small number of family and friends to attend their home games at the start of the season. Kroonin told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that they expect to be open to about 10% capacity by January 18 (MLK Day). The 10% projection would mean that 1,700 people would be allowed to watch the Hawks in person.

Oh, He’s Here Now? The Hawks front office put in significant work this season to try to make their team better. They picked up veterans like Danilo Gallinari, Rajon Rondo, and Solomon Hill whose presence will add increased wisdom and more leadership to the talented young core. Just think about how much All-Star guard Trae Young can grow under the tutelage of Rondo. In addition, Atlanta also picked up nice young players like Bogdan Bogdanovic and Kris Dunn. Both can add offensive punch off the bench and Dunn has proven to be a good defensive player in the league. Lastly, Onyeka Okongwu, the Hawks’ sixth overall draft pick in the 2020 draft will at least add more length and athleticism to the squad in his first year.

Where’d He Go? The Hawks didn’t lose much in the off-season. Certainly the absence of the veteran leadership of Hall of Famer Vince Carter to retirement would be a blow to any franchise, but the addition of Rondo helps fill in that gap. The addition of the new guards will also help replace DeAndre’ Bembry and Jeff Teague who both joined other squads in free agency — Teague joined the Celtics and Bembry the Raptors.

What To Expect: Atlanta has a roster that is very talented and has a lot of promise. Watching Young try to score 40 points every night will always be exciting and John Collins will be an impact above the rim by grabbing boards and finishing plays. The key to this team will be if young wing players like Kevin Huerter, Cam Reddish and De’Andre Hunter can take the next step to become consistent impact players. This team should take its next step forward this season and compete for a playoff spot in the top-heavy Eastern Conference.

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