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2018-19 Season Preview Extravaganza | The Hawks Signed Up For A Complete Rebuild

by Kyle Ratke, Digital Content Manager

Digital Content Manager

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Twenty-nine different opposing NBA teams will walk through the doors of Target Center to play the Wolves this season, and we want you to know as much as you can about all of them. We’re going worst to first in order of last year’s standings and telling you everything you need to know. Today, we’ll preview a Hawks team that went 100 percent youth movement this offseason.

Key Players Acquired: G Trae Young (draft), G Kevin Huerter (draft), F Omari Spellman (draft), C Alex Len (free agency), G-F Vince Carter (free agency), G Jeremy Lin (free agency)

Key Players Lost: G Dennis Schroeder (trade), C Mike Muscala (trade)

Recapping 2017-18:

Well, it wasn’t great. The Hawks finished the season 24-58, 15th in the East. This wasn’t because of injury, say like the Grizzlies. This was just because the Hawks were still recovering from losing Al Horford and most recently, Paul Millsap.

The days of Horford and Millsap working down low, and Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver on the wing seems like decades ago.

Atlanta had no star power in 2017-18. Dennis Schroder is a fine player who averaged 19.4 points per game, but he’s going to be a backup in Oklahoma City this season. That’s telling.

Let’s look at the positives. It looks like the Hawks got a steal by drafting John Collins 19th overall in the 2017 draft. The Wake Forest product averaged 10.5 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. I’d expect him to be part of the team’s long-term blueprint, however, probably not a main pillar.

Another positive was the continued development of Taurean Prince, who averaged 14.1 points and 4.7 rebounds per game in his second season while shooting 38.5 percent from the field. Prince looks like a 2.0 version of former Hawk DeMarre Carroll, who in his last season with the Hawks averaged 12.6 points and shot 39.5 percent from deep.

After the season, coach Mike Budenholzer and the team parted ways. Atlanta will start fresh with coach Lloyd Pierce who comes over from Philadelphia.

From 2007 to 2017, the Hawks made 10-straight playoff appearances. All good things must come to an end, and with that comes a full rebuild. Now you see the Hawks taking a chance on a young core of guys like Trae Young, Kevin Huerter, Collins and Prince.

The Big Question:

Will Atlanta regret the Trae Young – Luka Doncic swap?

After originally drafting Doncic third overall, the Hawks flipped him to the Mavericks for the rights to Young and a future first-round pick.

Many considered Doncic the No. 1 prospect in the draft, while Young was considered to be a mid to late lottery pick. That’s not to say Doncic will be better than Young. We know the draft doesn’t work on pre-draft rankings, but physically, Young has some growing and progressing to do. In Summer League, he had his ups and downs, and throughout his rookie season, he’ll probably have more downs than ups.

But the Hawks front office knows that it will be judged based on this draft day trade. Young and Doncic will be forever linked.

For what it’s worth, I think Huerter, who the team drafted 19th overall, is going to be a very good player who can score at all three levels. I wouldn’t be surprised if he has a better rookie season than Young.

How Do The Wolves Beat Them?

The Hawks are a young team that will have plenty of learning moments throughout the season. The Timberwolves, however, are a mostly veteran unit that knows how games are won in this league. Feed Karl-Anthony Towns inside against Len. Have Jeff Teague and Tyus Jones play physical defense on Young. Take advantage of Jimmy Butler on the block. Basically, be more physical than the Hawks. Young teams tend to play with finesse. Veteran teams play a bit more physical. Minnesota should have no probably imposing its will on Atlanta.

Somewhere Taj Gibson is smiling.

Ratke’s Prediction:

There aren’t many teams with more puzzle pieces than the Hawks. We just aren’t quite sure if these pieces fit yet or if we’ll have to just smash them together so we can get onto dinner so mom doesn’t get mad.

With Young, Huerter, Collins and Prince, this team has a solid core. I think Atlanta still has a long way to go and will probably be near the bottom of the East once again. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing considering that could mean two lottery picks in 2019 depending where the Mavericks end their season.

In unrelated news, I really like Atlanta’s jerseys. It feels like that’s an unpopular opinion.

Describe This Team In 15 Words Or Less

Growing pains are real, but it’s for the greater good of the team.

So When Can I See Them?

The Wolves host the Hawks on Friday Dec. 28 at 7 p.m. They’ll travel to play the Hawks on Wednesday Feb. 27 at 6:30 p.m.

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