Red Velvet

kevin-huerterThe Atlanta Hawks have done a remarkable job in the past three drafts in regards to the first round selections.  These selections are going to be considered as Travis’s guys. The recurring theme that you hope will be extended into this season as well is that each pick has performed beyond expectations.
Most fans didn’t even know who John Collins was coming out of Wake Forest at number 19. Although everyone knew of Trae by the end of the 2017-2018 college season, there were a number of pundits and fans who had low expectations for the number 5 pick.

Even this past draft class offers a somewhat polarizing name brand selection (Reddish) and a slightly under the radar pick (Hunter) with the potential to blow doors off the expectations.

But here’s what may still end up being the biggest surprise is how much Kevin Huerter is  getting better. To be fair, there were some Klay Thompson comparisons out there, but those takes were nearly as lazy as the white player to white player comp. When you get a chance just look up ‘Kevin Huerter draft’ and you’re going to hear a couple 6 foot 7 white guys come up like Mike Miller and Joe Ingles.

Is Huerter a shooter? Most definitely, but if you actually have seen him play you most assuredly said either to yourself or even outloud “This dude can HOOP hoop!”

Although 9.7 points 2.9 assists and 3.3 rebounds per game doesn’t jump off the page Kevin actually jumps off the floor. He’s more athletic than he’s given credit for. Although his rookie campaign yields a 0.9 per game average for both blocks and steals Kevin actually is a more than capable defender.

Two games into the preseason and his absence is very noticeable. He may be the three of the “Big Three” but he is clearly one of them. There’s no telling how high his trajectory may reach but it is clear that he’s surpassed expectations, and that is another reason for Hawks fans to be optimistic and confident about the franchise’s future.

What kind of leap Kevin makes is yet to be determined but if his rookie season is any indication of what to expect;then Red Mamba,Red Velvet,Red Rifle or whatever contrived scarlett based moniker Hawks Nation settles on for him will be a pleasant surprise for Atlanta and a surprising problem for the rest of the league.

Stay with ATLSportsHQ for full Hawks coverage and all things Atlanta sports!

Mike Gaines | @mgainesii

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John the Baptist

Los Angeles Clippers v Atlanta Hawks
Kevin C. Cox/NBAE/Getty Images

 “ICE TRAE FOR THREEE!!!”

That’s what the little Hawks are saying. “Trae Young is the new face of the franchise.” That’s what the bigger Hawks are saying. “Where did they find this guy?!” Now that?…that’s what EVERYBODY, especially those outside of the Hawks fanbase are saying….about John Collins aka John The Baptist.
It’s more than apparent that Trae is next up to be the franchise’s torchbearer for the foreseeable future, but the first piece and cornerstone of this rebuild can be and should be attributed to John Collins.
In his rookie campaign he managed to eek out a promising 10.5 ppg 7.3 rpg 1.1 blk stat line in 24.1 minutes per game under then coach Mike Budenholzer.  I say “eeked out” only for the simple fact that Collins only started 26 of his 74 games played and Coach Bud has a penchant for not really playing his rookies much. But Collins was so explosive he was playing a relatively healthy amount of minutes under Bud. The potential was evident. The ceiling of this potential not so much.
The Hawks have had plenty of high flyer’s don the jersey and accost the rim. We all know ‘Nique and Spud. But there was also Augmon, J Smooth (if we’re being honest he was why Phillips Arena was referred to as the Highlight Factory.) even the likes of Darvin Ham; so having an explosive player isn’t new to Atlanta.
The Hawks have also had a number of underrated or understated talents as well. Just look back at the Highlight Factory days and Iso Joe was one of the most understated talents ever. His personality was almost nonexistent which definitely allowed him to be overlooked as a star. Steve Smith was probably a victim of logjam at Shooting Guard so his talent may have been underrated.  When you have to stand in line behind Michael Jordan, Penny Hardaway and Reggie Miller you can expect to be left off of almost every list.
With Collin’s combination of explosiveness and an ever improving offensive repertoire coming off of an astronomical sophomore season (19.5 ppg 9.8 rpg 0.6 blk) he is definitely becoming more recognized. JC is not just being seen as solid player, but as a rising star.
Coming out of Wake Forest with a near identical sophomore jump (7.3 ppg 3.9 rpg to 19.2 ppg 9.8 rpg) , hindsight suggests that JC “fell” to the Hawks at pick number 19; but realistically no one can truthfully say they expected him to be this extraordinary.  Now that October is around the corner (October 22) the Hawks future seemingly rests in two sets of hands. Two faces on billboards. Two names on the backs of the jerseys. Two separate highlight reels. Two ambassadors for the city. Two potential all-stars. Two number 1’s. John Collins isn’t a sidekick. He’s a number one too.
Stay with ATLSportsHQ for full Hawks coverage and all things Atlanta sports!

Mike Gaines | @mgainesii

New Atlanta Old Atlanta Swag

 The city of Atlanta has been developing and redeveloping it’s identity over the course of decades. From a budding shrine of the deep south to a national beacon of opportunity, to what can be seen now as the burgeoning international hub known as the “ATL”, “A-town” or quite simply “The A” (Notice there is no Hotlanta on the list.) Atlanta has been front and center in nearly every aspect of the business, entertainment and lifestyle worlds. The most notable arena that doesn’t seem to have a strong Atlanta influence is in the sports world. The city boasts a paltry 2 titles since 1966, which is when the Falcons were founded and the Braves moved to Atlanta from Milwaukee. The Hawks moved in 1968 from St. Louis and neither the Flames nor the Thrashers made any noise during their residencies. 

   The most misconstrued narrative about Atlanta is that it’s not a “sports town” or that because it’s a transplant city that most fans are rooting for the visiting team. That’s not necessarily the case. Of course winning makes it easier for fans to put emotional and financial equity into the squads but look at the buzz the 60 win Hawks garnered for that moment or even the worst to first Braves of the 90’s. 

   In the early to mid 90’s the Bravos owned Atlanta. Some companies would let their employees leave the office early just to go catch an afternoon game. But 1 title in 5 appearances may have soured some people’s perception since then. With that being said, how can you in good conscience not root for your home team wins lose or draw? Maybe “back in the day” there were no indications from any of the teams front offices that any were in the hunt for a trophy and that is what turned lots of ATLiens to Lakers, Cowboys, Steelers, Yankees etc. For the most part most ATLiens want to wave the flags of their hometown squads. 

   Atlanta United may be the clearest example of the city embracing the hometown team. They’re also the newest team to reside in the city, but they’re also an embodiment of what Atlanta is or can be as a sports town and a more cosmopolitan city; an amalgamation of the natives, home-growns and transplants. The United fans and supporter groups have helped to usher in some of that “New Atlanta” swag. If you don’t see it, just watch. 

   Take for example the Falcons and how the fan base has a certain everyman appeal with a lingering hint of “we know we’re the crown jewel of the South”. The city’s self assuredness sometimes oozes out the pores of ATLiens and longtime transplants alike, and this most recent incarnation of the Dirty Birds seems to emulate that same demeanor. 

  The “Baby Braves”, as they’ve been coined as of late have been on a mercurial ascension; but not only are they winning they’ve also been fun to watch. No longer living and dying on the long ball but by just playing baseball and playing with a sense of exuberance and bravado that matches the aura of a new generation of ATLiens.  Bat flips and specialized handshakes are something new to the Braves persona but matches what “the kids are doing”.

  The Atlanta Hawks? What’s not to like about the direction the entire organization is heading. For one Tony Ressler wants to win which is supposed to be the goal of EVERY professional sports franchise, but secondly they are trying to win with dynamic young talent and not bargain bin, marginal stars (with all due respect to anyone that would be considered that). The freshness of the young Hawks attitude and demeanor has a similar feel to that of the up and coming generation of youngsters matriculating into Atlanta society in all aspects of life. 

  The city of Atlanta has definitely evolved its persona over the past number of decades and it seems that the Sports teams of Atlanta are finally starting to match that and hopefully the sports world will be calling it a championship attitude.

 

Mike Gaines