Beyond the Toronto Raptors: Previewing a horrible Southeast division

Toronto Raptors - Pascal Siakam (Matias J. Ocner/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Pascal Siakam (Matias J. Ocner/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images) /
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Toronto Raptors
Toronto Raptors – Pascal Siakam (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

Atlanta Hawks

Key Arrivals: De’Andre Hunter, Evan Turner, Cam Reddish

Key Departures: Dewayne Dedmon, Kent Bazemore, Taurean Prince

Call Travis Schlenk what you want but you can’t call him scared.

Last season Schlenk made the bold decision to trade the pick which became Luka Doncic in order to go down and select Trae Young. This year, he was working the phones on draft day once again, using picks 8, 17, and 35 to move up to 4th overall to select De’Andre Hunter. Still armed with the 12th pick, he then went on to select high-ceiling, low-floor prospect, Cam Reddish.

The long term outlook of the Hawks will depend on those moves. This season will be about the development of those two rookies, as well as, John Collins, and Trae Young. Atlanta has a young nucleus which they hope can be the core of franchise moving forward.

Offensive Outlook

It’s hard to remember now, after a great deal of success, but Trae Young stumbled pretty hard out of the gate. The young point guard couldn’t make a shot, couldn’t finish in the lane, and struggled with the NBA’s physicality. His struggles impacted the entire team, and prior to January 1st, the Hawks had the 29th ranked offense in the NBA.

However, as the year progressed, Young started to find his footing (offensively anyway). He was making shots, creating for others, and had the Hawks offense humming. After the start of the new year, the Hawks had the 16th ranked offense in the NBA, a jump of 13 spots from their 2018 ranking!

This year, the Hawks should be competent, perhaps even above-average, with Young on the court. However, with Kevin Huerter being the team’s best wing scorer, Evan Turner running the show behind him, and an overall lack of depth, their overall ceiling as a team is about average. Not fantastic, but certainly not a terrible outcome for a young, rebuilding team.

Their defense however…… is another story.

Defensive Outlook

When projecting for this season, the loss of Dewayne Dedmon, Kent Bazemore, and Taurean Prince will hurt more than any rookie additions help. Atlanta was already near the bottom of the league in defense last season. With the departures of Dedmon and Bazemore, they just lost two of their best defenders.

Atlanta is projected to start a lineup of Trae Young, Kevin Huerter, De’Andre Hunter, John Collins, and Alex Len. That’s a rookie, three horrible defenders, and possibly the worst defender in the entire NBA. The Hawks have virtually no chance of finishing with anything other than a bottom-five defense.

Projected Record: 28-54

Everyone seems to be in on the Atlanta as the NBA’s up-and-coming roster. And while the Hawks do have potential, they’re unlikely to realize it this season. They’re a roster that is at least a year away, even if the future does appear to be bright.