This is not Goodbye

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With sadness I am announcing that ATLSportsHQ.com will be decommissioned in the coming days. 

With years of hard work and dedication from many writers and contributors, the ATLSportsHQ.com URL brought a new era of sports coverage in Atlanta sports.

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Phillip Veasley

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.

Roundtable: Hawks Season Predictions

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John Collins (Hawks.com)

Phil Veasley  | @_ATLPhil

Let’s slow down. Taking a look at Twitter would have you thinking that the Hawks are locks for the postseason. While it is possible, I just don’t see it. Not yet. This team has a lot of work in front of them, not to mention the daunting early schedule. Losing several key veterans will be hard to overcome despite the rookie acquisitions. Also, depth is a major issue, especially behind Trae and at the Center spot. Despite the flaws, the Hawks will be one of the league’s most exciting squads and will find themselves in the thick of things after the All-Star Break. Ultimately they will find themselves outside the top 8 but will show improvement with their 36-46 record.

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Bob Lancaster | @bowlinbob

30-35 Wins. Could this be on the low side? Possibly, but let’s be real here. You are bringing in two rookie pieces possibly 3 with Bruno and expecting them to gel from the beginning with the existing pieces. The three keys for me to see that record improve and challenge for an 8th playoff spot are Defensive Improvement, Less Turnovers, and production from the Center position.

Jared Schmehl | @SchmehlJared

The Hawks will improve upon their last season after making many offseason acquisitions and drafting Cam Reddish, De’Andre Hunter, and Bruno Fernando. Our offense and defense will both improve. Trae Young and John Collins will both be all star reserves. We will look a lot more sharp in the second half of the season as we will have built a strong chemistry. I expect the Hawks’ record to be around 38-44, and we will push for the 8th seed.

Stewart Zwald | @SDZwald041599

This season, the Atlanta Hawks will be a fun a team to watch with the young core the Hawks have. However, they have a brutal schedule to open up the first 2 months of the season which includes matchups against the 76ers, Heat, Spurs, Trail Blazers, Nuggets, Clippers, Lakers, Bucks, and the defending NBA champions Toronto Raptors. I do believe that the Hawks will be better than the 29-53 record that they had last season, but I don’t see the Hawks making the playoffs this season. This is still a very young team and will go through some ups and downs. Defense is still a major question as well turnovers. Turnovers were a major issue this preseason and looked better in the final 2 games of the preseason especially against the Knicks. I believe that the Hawks will finish this season with a 38-44 record. I think the Hawks will just miss the playoffs. I expect Trae to have a great Sophomore season as he will just get better as the season goes on.

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Vince Carter (Hawks.com)

Bret Anderson | @Bret_A27

The Hawks are going to surprise some folks this season as they have added some extremely talented rookies, Cam Reddish and DeAndre Hunter along with big man Bruno Fernando. The Hawks did lose 3 key pieces to their team from last season, all 3 of which started at some point for the Hawks last season(Bazemore, Prince, Dedmond). Bazemore was sent out to Portland for Evan Turner who will serve as the primary backup PG to Trae Young. Speaking of Young, he is looking to build off an historic rookie seasons and his pick and roll counterpart, John Collins, will be looking to take that leap into “star” status with another big season. The Hawks season will come down to limiting turnovers. They are going to put points on the board and will give up their fair share too, but if they can limit their turnovers, they will be a good, playoff caliber team. I will take a page out of the Paul Johnson book here and say “this team has no margin for error” in reference to the turnovers. 37-45

Evan Nix

I think the Hawks will start this season slow. They don’t have much scoring, contain a lot of new players and Trae Young has to how learn to transition to a Star. With the West being stacked and the East getting better, the Hawks will struggle most the season going 22-60

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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.

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