As inconsistency and uninspiring form plague their 2021-22 season, the Atlanta Hawks seem destined to be a fascinating franchise ahead of the NBA’s February 10 trade deadline.
After a surprise appearance in last season’s Eastern Conference Finals, the young Hawks have regressed rather than taken the next step many may have expected.
NBA Trades: How active will the Hawks be at the trade deadline?
Built around their all-star guard Trae Young, the Hawks have an intriguing roster that blends experience with some amazing young talent. Yet things have failed to click so far this season, as they sit at 12th in the East with a 21-25 record.
It’s important to acknowledge the underlying question management and ownership must be debating – was last season’s surprise success a basis in which to establish expectation, or was it an aberration that holds little weight in their path forward?
While the latter may be a realistic answer, that’s not a side-step from what’s been a disappointing and underwhelming season to date. It also should not prevent them from considering a major move involving their young talent should the opportunity present itself.
Looking at the numbers, the defensive end is where their major problems lie. They were only an average defensive team last season, but they’re now a bad defensive unit with the fourth-worst defensive rating in the league. It’s something their offense simply can not make up for, despite maintaining the second-best rating in that department.
It’s why the Hawks have been consistently linked with a move for wantaway 76er Ben Simmonsboth because of his fit as a much-needed defensive presence, and also as an asset-rich team that has pieces that may interest Daryl Morey and Philadelphia.
Simmons is a risk for any team but especially for the Hawks, who would be mortgaging their future for a player few would regard as the missing piece to a title contender. It would really come down to how the front office views the partnership of Young and John Collins, with the latter likely to be the key piece to any potential Simmons trade.
The Hawks are a victim of their own success last season, with the playoff run leading to distorted expectation. Regardless, they remain one of the disappointments of the season and subsequently sit as a team to monitor over the coming weeks.