Its that time of year again
The time of year when the sun sets sooner, when the evening temperatures tank, and when my one true love in life returns to me.
Her name is NBA Basketball, and dare I say, she looks as stunning as ever.
This 2019 NBA offseason refreshed and reset the league’s landscape similar to the Genesis story of Noah’s Ark, the superteam “era” (aka the Golden State Warriors’ league domination) seems to be behind us, and a new era of NBA Duo’s is poised to make this season one to remember. In addition, notable NBA rookies, such as Duke’s Zion Williamson, and Murray State’s Ja Morant, appear to have the league’s future heading in a tantalizingly fantastic direction, one where raw skills and ability trump the typical basketball standards to generating a team’s starting five. While on the topic of the league’s future, I see a fitting transition to my inaugural blog’s primary focus; The 2019/2020 Atlanta Hawks’ preseason.
After a losing 2018-2019 season, with a lot of bright spots post all-star break, the Atlanta Hawks found themselves in a position to restructure the team around their young core of Sooners point guard Trae Young, the 20/10 machine John Collins, and my personal favorite, lengthy shooting guard Kevin Huerter, from Minnesota University. All three of these players are no older than 22, and each work and fit together like gears in a clock. Notable player losses include center Dewayne Dedmon, a stretch-5 and capable defender, now playing for the Sacramento Kings, “fan favorite” Kent Bazemore, now on the Blazers in Portland, Oregon, and Taurean Prince, a solid forward out of Baylor who didn’t quite fit Head Coach Lloyd Pierce’s vision for the future, and thus became part of an important trade to bring the #4 overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft to Atlanta.
Notable keepers include the one and only Vince Carter, who plans to end his long tenure with the league following this season, Center Alex Len, who plays off Young like pastrami on rye. Finally, defensive wing DeAndre’ Bembry, Atlanta’s project player since the 2016 draft, will hopefully continue his growth into an above average 3 and D player.
Notable additions to the squad include two high-profile rookies, De’Andre Hunter from UVA, a 21 year old collegiate champion with great defensive intangibles and a bright future, and Cam Reddish, another high potential piece, who isn’t quite as far along as Hunter, but to his defense is a year younger.
Considering these moves, and my tendency to get excited and form opinions before any evidence is given, I thought Atlanta, being in the weaker Eastern Conference and playing respectively post all-star break, had a very strong case for making the playoffs. After watching preseason, I’m a little less confident my expectation will be met.
In all honesty, I still think the Hawks have a good chance to find themselves with the 8th seed once May comes around. A lot can happen, and I believe that Trae Young ad Lloyd Pierce can lead this squad to a record just under .500 (38-44).
The Hawks ended the preseason with an abysmal 1-4 record, winning only to one of the less impressive teams in the Eastern Conference, The New York Knicks, and losing to Zion’s Pelicans, the solid, playoff caliber Orlando Magic, Jimmy Butler’s Heat, and the young and talented Chicago Bulls. On average, the Hawks lost a preseason game by 24 points, and considering the teams they played against, I’d say the preseason was rather disappointing. Bright spots do include Vince Carter’s 3 point explosion against the Knicks, Hunter’s solid all around play, proving he’s more than a defensive threat, and consistent scoring and rebounding output from new forward addition Jabari Parker.
Sadly, my guy Kevin Huerter, an important scoring tool in Pierce’s run and gun offense, was sidelined for the entirety of the preseason. He was dealing with lingering knee complications, and being the smart man he is, Lloyd preferred to hold Huerter out from playing to hopefully ensure his debut in the Hawks season opener against the Pistons in Detroit, Michigan. I feel as though with Kevin Huerter on the court during the preseason, the hawks most definitely wouldn’t be hoisting a 1-4 record to conclude the five contests.
All things considered, I’m not happy with the outcome of the preseason, but I’m not allowing it to dilute my confidence in Atlanta this season.
- Yes, we’re a very young team
- Yes, we had a bad season last year
- Yes, the team had a low level of sustainability (a lot of new pieces to replace old main-stays)
But we’ve got a great thing going here down South:
- Trae Young (do I need to say more?)
- Smart offense utilizing our team’s shooting ability
- Tons of young assets that could (potentially) be moved for a blockbuster trade
- And there is nowhere but up for these guys to go, after the experience last season was
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