The Hawks Need to Tear It Down, to Build It Up
The Atlanta Hawks are 34 – 26 and sitting in the 5th position in the Eastern Conference. As usual the Hawks made no major moves at the deadline. They traded Mike Scott to the Suns for cash, and they also traded Tiago Splitter, a 2nd round pick, and the rights to swap 2017 picks with the 76ers for Ersan Ilyasova. Ilyasova is a free agent at the end of the year, so he likely is more of a rental player than an actual piece. So, there you have it, a team sitting in 5th place that is older than any team above them. This seems like the story of the Hawks in the last few years.
The Hawks lost both Jeff Teague and Al Horford in the last year, who were both top 4 players on the team, with Horford being the best. Atlanta did receive a 1st round pick from the Jazz in the deal for Teague, but used that pick on Taurean Prince, who has since been assigned to the D-League once, and is averaging 4 PPG and 2.4 RPG. Teague is now starting for the Indiana Pacers, and Horford for the Boston Celtics. Denis Schröder, made the decision easier to trade Teague, but he could still have helped the Hawks this year. Once the Hawks lost Horford in free agency this year, the decision should have been made to completely rebuild the team and tear it down.
Besides Schröder, the Hawks best players are all 30 and above. That would be okay for a team that’s competing for championships, but this is a team that is stuck in the middle. They will not get a lottery pick, and will not win a championship. So, they are stuck in a vicious cycle of getting less than decent draft picks, and not being able to attract the big time free agents.
The last draft pick the Hawks had that has been productive was Schröder in 2013. Before that you’ll have to go back to 2009 with the aforementioned Teague and 2007 with Horford. The last 3 first round draft picks have been Bembry (21) , Oubre Jr (15) , and Payne (15). Neither of these players have overachieved, and Oubre was traded to the Wizards.
The Hawks have a good trade bait player in Paul Millsap. He’s a very good low post player, and many teams were interested in him. He’s not a player that is going to lead you to the championship, but they could have traded him for good value, like a 1st round pick. Schröder, seems like the only one on the Hawks roster that should have been untouchable at the deadline. He is only 23, and averaging 17 ppg and 6 assists per game.
Schröder and Bazemore give the Hawks a backcourt to start building around. Hopefully DeAndre Bembry can improve and become a solid starter for Atlanta. Bembry has improved on the defensive side of the ball as of late. Bembry recently held Harden to 6 points in the 4th quarter of a comeback win, and he also shut down Evan Fournier who finished with 9 points on 3 of 12 shooting.
The Hawks need draft picks, and a lot of them. Once they get the young players in, Atlanta is a big enough city to attract an elite player once he can play with young talent around him. So, it’s time this offseason to break it down. Atlanta has been a good team for years, and the fans should understand that it is time to rebuild the team. They could simply look at the 76ers and learn to trust the process.