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.

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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.

Player Expectations: Cam Reddish

The Atlanta Hawks acquired Duke’s sharpshooter, Cam Reddish, with the tenth pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Hawks fans were elated to find out Reddish dropped to the tenth pick, when he was projected to be a potential top 5 player. Reddish’s lone season at Duke didn’t show the untapped potential Cam really has. His freshman year in college won’t have much of an implication on how his season will go.

I expect Cam to get minutes off of the bench for most of the year. Our lineup is very deep coming into the 2019-20 season. He will be a great leader for our second unit. Cam has a background at the point guard position, so he has experience as a leader. If Cam is orchestrating the offense for our bench, opposing teams will have to stay on their toes for the entirety of the game. If they decide to slack off a little when we sub in our second unit, we will run away with some of our games.

We will see Reddish average anywhere from 10 to around 15 points per game with, of course, an occasional 20 or 25 point outing. Reddish is a scorer, but he will be coming off of the bench. He is also coming off of a core injury that he played through all season for Duke. Reddish will be a volume shooter from deep, shooting around 38% from down town. Reddish will also average around 4 rebounds and 4 assists per game. Cam will fit right in with our system. He is a fast paced, 3-and-D type of player. He will be a great asset right of the bat.

I could see Cam making the NBA’s All-Rookie 3rd or even 2nd team at the end of this year. Many of the other rookies, including his Duke teammate, Zion Williamson, have talked about how great Reddish will be. They even voted him to have the best career out of the entire draft class. Hopefully Cam Reddish can live up to those high expectations.

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

Trae Young Dominates In Drew League Debut

Atlanta’s very own Trae Young and John Collins were invited to play in the Drew League in Los Angeles. Trae accepted the invite and showed up to play. Trae would play for the team BB4L. They matched up against Public Enemy, led by the Clippers’ Montrez Harrell and the reigning two time MVP of the Drew League, Frank “Nitty” Sessions.

Trae treated this game like a pickup game in a gym. He was dribbling between defenders’ legs, pulling from deep, and dropping insane dimes left and right. Trae finished the game with 31 points, 12 assists, 8 rebounds, and an incredible highlight reel of plays. Trae’s team did end up losing 102-95, but that is because of Frank Nitty’s 27 points and Montrez Harrell’s monstrous game with 46 points.

Playing in the Drew League could benefit Trae for this upcoming season. Even though it’s no where near NBA competition, it is still tough competition nonetheless. Playing like he did in his debut could build his confidence heading into the 2019/20 season. This would be much like the Rising Stars game last season. It allowed him to build confidence and lead to his explosion in the second half of the year. This could be a sign of good things to come for Trae.

Playoffs?!

John+Collins+Trae+Young+Los+Angeles+Clippers+fcGjrI494epl
Trae Young and John Collins (Hawks.com)

After a two year absence are the Hawks playoff bound?

After a flurry of late season thrillers and a stellar draft, Hawks fans have a sense of excitement not felt since the 60 win season. Some are even speaking about the P word…Playoffs!

Atlanta is coming off a season that started a putrid 6-23 due in part to an injured John Collins and a Trae Young that was just getting his feet wet in the NBA.

When healthy, the Hawks finished the season a competitive 23-30. Extrapolate that winning percentage (.434) over a full 82 game period and you roughly get a 35.5 win total. That would’ve placed Atlanta six games below the playoff line in the East.

I get the notion of most thinking the Hawks will automatically greatly improve next year. But let’s slow down just a bit.

Key Additions 

Evan Turner | Acquired via Trade from Portland | Backup Point Guard

Allen Crabbe | Acquired via Trade from Brooklyn | Reserve Wing

De’Andre Hunter | Drafted 4th Overall | Starting Wing

Cam Reddish | Drafted 10th Overall | Backup Wing

Bruno Fernando | Drafted 34th Overall | Backup Center

Jabari Parker | Free Agent Signing | Backup Forward

Chandler Parsons | Acquired via Trade from Memphis | Backup Wing

Key Departures

Kent Bazemore | Traded to Portland | Starting Wing

Taurean Prince | Traded to Brooklyn | Starting Wing

Dewayne Dedmon | Signed a Free Agent deal with Sacramento | Starting Center

Vince Carter | Unsigned Free Agent (could still return) | Reserve Wing

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Jim Mora

On paper, it appears that the Hawks are a better team. But losing three of your five starters and possibly Vince is huge not only in locker room but on the court.

Bazemore, Dedmon and Vince were the unquestioned leaders and “tough guys” of the team. That is not easily replicated. While Atlanta definitely replaced that production on the wing, the team is very thin up front.

The Hawks will have to rely on Alex Len and Rookie Bruno Fernando at the 5 spot. They may have to slide Collins to the Center spot at times to make ends meet.

It is expected that the Hawks go with this lineup on opening night:

Trae Young

Kevin Huerter

De’Andre Hunter

John Collins

Alex Len

That is very very young. There will be growing pains.

Let’s also not forget how “lucky” we have been drafting lately. John Collins, Trae Young, and Kevin Huerter have had outstanding Rookie seasons. We can not place unfair pressure based on our recent history on Cam, Hunter and Bruno.

Vegas has set the over/under for next year at 32.5 wins. Personally I expect the Hawks to fall around 10th in the Eastern Conference with around 33-38 wins. That would end in disappointment for some but that should be considered a success. It would also give us another shot in the new lottery which has proved to be a crapshhot that anyone can win.

Hawks fans, let’s not put unrealistic expectations on this team. We know they are going to be very exciting so let’s just enjoy the ride.

What do you think fans? Should we temper expectations or are we playoff bound? Hit us up @ATLHawks_Talk and @_ATLPhil and let us know.

I know one thing is for sure, I speak for all of us when I say bring on October!

Here’s to more moments like this.

As always, send us your Atlanta Sports questions and you’ll hear them answered live on Youtube on the next episode of HQ Live.

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Phil Veasley | @_ATLPhil Twitter/IG | @ATLSportsHQ Twitter/IG