Hawks Win Season Opener In Trae-mendous Fashion

If I had to summarize last night’s 117-110 victory over the Detroit Pistons in two words, those words would be Trae Young. Now of course, he had a lot of crucial help from his teammates, but Trae went off in the first game of his sophomore season. Trae led all scorers with 38 points. He also threw in 9 assists and 7 rebounds! People keep criticizing his efficiency, but he was extra efficient last night as he shot 11/21 from the field and 6/10 from three. Ice Trae started the game hot as he scored 16 points in the first quarter, giving the Hawks a ton of momentum. In those 16 points was a three pointer that was shot at the Pistons center court logo! Trae carved up the Detroit defense all night, getting any shot he wanted.

Overall, Atlanta looked incredible. Our biggest weakness has been our defense, and we held them to just 100 points, which for this NBA, that’s not a whole lot. We out rebounded Detroit 42 to 39 despite them having the best rebounder in the league, Andre Drummond. The Hawks shot the ball well too, shooting 51.2% from the field and 35.5% from behind the arc.

There were many other great solo performances for Atlanta, including John Collins, who recorded a double-double with 18 points, 10 boards, and a monstrous put-back dunk over the head of Drummond. Jabari Parker created a huge spark off of the bench with 18 points on 8/11 shooting. One of our rookies, De’Andre Hunter, had 14 points on 5/8 shooting. He also hit a couple of big shots throughout the game. Cam Reddish did struggle as he only had 1 point, but he looked solid on the defensive end. Hopefully he got the first game jitters out, and he can help contribute more moving into the rest of the season.

This was a great start to the season for the Atlanta Hawks. We look to continue that great play on Saturday night in our home opener against the Orlando Magic.

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Hawks Look Sharp In Preseason Matchup VS The Knicks

The Hawks struggled early in the preseason, dropping their first three games. That’s not something to look too much into as it is only preseason, where many players are fighting just for a spot on the 15 man roster. Many of our key players played much more in last nights game than they have been, as we defeated the Knicks 100-96.

Atlanta looked strong from the very start. Our offense was moving, and the defense looked really good, contesting shots, forcing bad possession, and hustling after every loose ball. We continued this trend throughout the entirety of the game. We held them to below 100 points which we usually struggle to accomplish. We also controlled the game as we beat them in 3 out of the 4 quarters. The biggest takeaway from the game though, was the amount of takeaways New York had on us. Atlanta’s main focus has been to limit turnovers. We had 25 turnovers against Miami on Monday. Last night, we only had 11 turnovers. That is a very good sight to see. More possessions equals more opportunities to score. Trae Young as an individual has struggled with turnovers, and he didn’t have a single one last night. Another note to make is that Huerter, Crabbe, and Parsons were all out of last nights game.

We even had a little taste of Vinsanity in the second quarter as he hit 4 threes in a row! Looks like it’s a new season, but the same old Vince. Trae caused problems for the New York defense all night as he finished with 23 points and 9 assists. Collins put up a nice double-double with 12 points and 14 boards. Our rookies also looked solid last night. Reddish had 9 points on 4 of 9 shooting. Hunter had 15 points on 5 of 8 shooting. Hunter knocked down 2 threes and 2 clutch free throws at the end to really seal the game. The Hawks look to continue this type of play tonight against Chicago.

Player Expectations: Kevin Huerter

Kevin Huerter had a very impressive rookie year last season. He averaged 9.7 points per game but showcased his great skill set. He proved to be a knock down shooter, shooting 38.5% from deep, which led the entire rookie class last year. Huerter is also athletic enough to slash to the rim and finish through traffic. With his size and athleticism, Kevin makes for a pretty solid defender as well.

I expect Huerter to start the majority of the games for the Hawks, as long as he is providing valuable minutes. With Trae still at the head of this offense, Huerter will still have many catch and shoot opportunities. If the defense closes out on him, he is skilled enough to dribble around them and create a play himself either scoring or finding another open teammate.

Kevin will see more minutes this year, so he will definitely improve upon his numbers from last year. He will average around 14 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists per game. His three point percentage will be in the upper 30s while his total field goal percentage will be in the lower to mid 40s.

Kevin Huerter will play a very important role for this team as we look to fight for the 8th seed in the East. I don’t know if he will win it, but Kevin will be in the talks for most improved player after the season ends.

Player Expectations: John Collins

The Atlanta Hawks’ high flyer is coming off of a very strong sophomore year. He barely missed averaging 20 and 10. He put up 19.5 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 2 assists per game. These numbers are very impressive for a player in only his second year in the league. Collins also built a strong relationship with our point guard, Trae Young, which can hopefully lead to an unstoppable dynamic duo for the future.

Also last year, Collins worked on his outside game to compliment his dominant inside game. I expect him to have built on that aspect quite a bit this offseason. If Collins can become a reliable three point threat, he will become even more dangerous. He and Trae already have an elite pick and roll game. With the addition of a three point shot to his arsenal, they could build a respectable pick and pop game. Defenders won’t know how to guard it. If they drop back and play for the roll, Collins can drift out to behind the arc and wait for the pass. If the defender plays up for the three, Collins can roll to the basket and catch the easy lob. This will lead to Trae and John becoming one of the leagues best one-two punches.

Statistics wise, Collins will improve upon his numbers from last year. I see him averaging about 22 or 23 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 assists per game. He will shoot around 60% from the field and 38% from three.

With numbers like that, Collins will be in consideration for the All-NBA Third Team. He will also be selected to his very first All-Star game. John Collins will eventually be known as one of the leagues more dominant power forwards.

Player Expectations: Trae Young

Trae Young is coming off of an incredible rookie season. He came in 2nd for Rookie of the Year after averaging 19.1 points, 8.1 assists, and 3.7 rebounds per game. Trae has worked on his game a lot this offseason. He constantly played in pick up games and played in other leagues such as the Drew League.

Obviously, Young will be our starting point guard for the 2019-20 season. Trae will continue to be a great floor general and elusive play maker on the offensive end. He has also bulked up a little over the summer, adding over 15 pounds of muscle. Hopefully this can help improve his defensive game, as he was one of the worst rated defenders last year. Although Trae is sometimes a defensive liability, his offensive game more than makes up for that. Trae Young is definitely expected to be the leader of this young (no pun intended) team.

I expect Trae to improve upon his numbers from last year. I see him averaging about 23 points, 11 assists, and 4 rebounds per game. Young will also be top 3 in the league, if not number 1, in assists. With Westbrook and Harden being on the same team, I expect their assist numbers to decline.

If Trae can play up to these expectations, he could possibly make the All-NBA’s Third team. He will also make the NBA All-Star team for his first time. Trae will be the leader of this team for years to come. Hopefully he’ll lead us into many deep playoff runs and even championship runs.

Player Expectations: Bruno Fernando

Bruno Fernando was selected by the Atlanta Hawks with the 34th overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Fernando was Maryland’s bruiser at the power forward position. He is known for his great strength, physicality, and athleticism.

Bruno definitely has a future with the Atlanta Hawks. He fits very well into Lloyd Pierce’s system. He is very physical down low and will fight for extra possessions. He can also utilize his athleticism in pick and rolls with Trae when on the court. He has also shown potential to become a jump shooter. Pierce has been working with Fernando on his three point shot. Hopefully he can add that to his repertoire and become an even bigger threat. The Hawks lacked interior defense last year, so Bruno can certainly help improve that for us.

I could see Bruno’s season going one of two ways. He could either be our primary back up center for Alex Len, or he will play for our G League team, the College Park Skyhawks, for most of the year. If he comes out and plays valuable minutes off of the bench, Bruno could see an increase in minutes and could take over the back up center role that will be held by Damian Jones, who we acquired in a trade with the Golden State Warriors. He would bring a ton of energy off the bench, much like Montrezl Harrell did for the Clippers last year.

If Bruno struggles a little, he could be sent down to the G League to help sharpen his game. While down there, he could really work on his outside game. With the minutes he does see in the NBA, I expect Fernando to average about 7 points, 6 rebounds, and 1 block a game. Bruno Fernando will be a great big man for the Hawks in the years to come.

Player Expectations: De’Andre Hunter

De’Andre Hunter was selected by the Atlanta Hawks with the 4th overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Hunter led the Virginia Cavaliers to an NCAA Championship with his immaculate defensive ability.

Hunter will immediately take over the role of Taurean Prince for Atlanta. I expect De’Andre to start the majority of his rookie year. Last year, the Hawks lacked perimeter defense. Hunter will provide a much needed help in that area. Hunter can guard four different positions effectively. He will probably guard the opposing team’s best wing player almost every night. This will be a tough task for a rookie. He is already one of the team’s top defenders.

On Atlanta, De’Andre probably won’t carry much of an offensive load. We drafted him for his size and defensive ability. That is why he will probably average around 10 points per game. With Trae, Huerter, and Collins carrying much of the offense, Hunter won’t need to attempt to create his own shots even though he can if need be. He will average around 6 rebounds and 2 assists per game. On the defensive end of the court, we could see Hunter average about 1 steal a game or even more and maybe half a block per game. That probably won’t tell the whole story though. He will cause the offense to take tough, contested shots, giving us a better chance to win ball games.

I know it is really early and kind of a long shot, but there have been some comparisons to the Klaw, Kawhi Leonard. They are both very talented and lengthy defenders that have a very laid back personality. I could see De’Andre Hunter making any of the three NBA’s All-Rookie teams.