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: 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.

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.

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

Ronald Acuña Jr. Is In Reach Of The 40-40 Club This Season

The reigning National League Rookie of the Year has had an incredible second year so far. He has consistently held a batting average around .290, and has destroyed some baseballs along his way.

This All Star could become only the fifth player in MLB history to join the elusive 40-40 Club. To join this club, a player must hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases within a single season. The only players to do so are Jose Canseco in 1988, Barry Bonds in 1996, Alex Rodriguez in 1998, and Alfonso Soriano in 2006. Acuña could very possibly be on his way to joining these elite ball players.

After the game early on Wednesday against the Minnesota Twins, Ronald Acuña has 29 home runs and 26 stolen bases. He has 46 games left in the season to rack up 11 home runs and 14 stolen bases. Can the young phenom join one of the most elite clubs in all of baseball in only his second season?