Five Things to Watch Over the Final 22 Games

Hawks Youth (Hawks.com)

Sitting at 18-42, it’s clearly time to look towards next year.

The final 22 games of the Hawks’ season will serve more as a player evaluation period rather than a focus on wins and losses.

Standings

Atlanta currently sits at 18-42. That is .5 games ahead of Phoenix for last place in the league but just 1 game behind Brooklyn which is in 7th worst place. If you throw in Chicago who also appears tanking, there are 8 teams furiously racing to the bottom. All 8 of these teams: Phoenix, Atlanta, Orlando, Dallas, Sacramento, Memphis, Brooklyn and Chicago have all pretty much waived the towel on this season. All 8 of these teams also currently own a 3 game or longer losing streak.

The one “saving grace” for Atlanta (draft positioning wise) is our schedule here on out. During March the Hawks face a multitude of winning teams. Atlanta takes on the Warriors and Thunder at Philips and travel to Toronto, Indiana, Milwaukee, Utah, Golden State, Houston and Minnesota.

If we are going to be bad, we might as well be the worst and get the best odds for the number 1 pick.

DeAndre’ Bembry

On and off the court, DeAndre’ Bembry has not had a good season to say the least. His averages of 4.9 PPG 2.7 RPG and 1.5 APG in 17 MPG don’t jump off the stat sheet as being awful but his 1.8 Turnovers in that short amount of time do. Even when healthy for a few stretches this season, his play has made it hard for Coach Bud to give him minutes. It’s imperative over the final 22 games for Pierre to show the coaching staff that it is not time to give up on his development.

The Minnesota Timberwolves

The Hawks appeared to be easily on their way to Minnesota’s 1st round pick. Until Friday Evening. That’s when their Superstar, Jimmy Butler went down with what at the time appeared to be an ACL injury.

The Wolves currently sit at 37-26 but in the West that is only 3.5 games above the 9th place LA Clippers. If the Wolves fail to make the postseason, the Hawks will not receive the pick this year.

Thankfully, a MRI revealed that the injury was a torn meniscus and not a torn ACL.

As Shams reports, there is hope that Butler can return this season. If the pick doesn’t convey, that could greatly affect the Hawks plans this summer.

 

Mike Muscala/Dewayne Dedmon

Last summer Mike Muscala and Dewayne Dedmon both signed 1+1 deals with the Hawks. The 2nd years of both player’s contract include player options. They can either play out the 2nd year of their deals or become Free Agents.

It’s pretty clear that Dedmon will opt-out and command around 10 Million a year. Depending on who the Hawks draft they may look to keep him.

As for Moose, these final 22 games are vital for him. After missing 30 games with a bad ankle sprain, it took him a while to work his way into the regular rotation thus somewhat suppressing his stats. As of now, Moose would probably opt-in but he will be looking to boost his production for the rest of the season in hopes of demanding a larger contract this summer.

Youth Movement 

With veterans such as Ersan Ilyasova and Marco Belinelli now off the roster, the average age of our team is 24.9. Down the stretch, look for John Collins and Tyler Dorsey to average 25-30+ minutes a night. Players who are normally buried in the rotation such as Tyler Cavanaugh and Isaiah Taylor will see increased minutes. Also Two-Way players Andrew White III and Josh Magette could see increased time with the club.

We could even see Bazemore, Dennis, Dedmon and possibly even Taurean Prince shut down some games to “rest” just to get the young guys a look against starting caliber talent.

While this may be frustrating to some fans at times, it is vital that Coach Bud and Travis Schlenk fully evaluate the roster to see who could be a part of the team next year and beyond.

Phil Veasley | @_ATLPhil

If you or anyone you know is interested in becoming a writer for ATLSportsHQ please DM Phil on Twitter or send a sample article to atlsportshq@gmail.com.

For the fans

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If you or anyone you know is interested in becoming a writer for ATLSportsHQ please DM Phil Veasley (@_ATLPhil) on Twitter or IG. Or send a sample article to atlsportshq@gmail.com.

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Phil Veasley
Phil Veasley is a resident of Atlanta who has been a die-hard Hawks fan since 2005. He is Civil Engineer student at KSU. Currently, Phil writes for Atlanta Hawks Talk while also managing all ATLSportsHQ sites. He can be reached on Twitter at @_ATLPhil

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