NBA

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The New Magic Show

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The Orlando Magic continue to get glimpses of what they can be, but injuries and inconsistent play is making this season like a roller coaster.

With Nikola Vucevic being out for a minimum of 4 weeks with a high ankle sprain, I’m excited to see what player steps up in his place and how the team responds.

Vucevic is Orlando’s only All-Star player and last season he led the Magic to the playoffs. Vucevic led the team in 2018 in scoring (20.8 per game) and rebounding (12 per game). Vucevic left some big shoes to fill.

Magic forward Jonathan Isaac is now one of their featured players offensively and his main assignment is defending the opponent’s best player.

How Isaac responds to the additional responsibility could determine how the Magic fare over the next four to six weeks.

The Magic are pushing the ball more for Isaac and rely on him to accomplish more on the offensive end of the court.

In the absence of Vucevic, Isaac has become impossible to ignore. He is a dominating defender and has become a crucial offensive force. Isaac is average on the stat sheet, just under 15 points per game, 3 blocked shots per game, and 9 rebounds since the Vucevic injury.

Isaac’s play has created some room for Coach Clifford to trust him a little more on the offensive side of the court. Isaac has shown improvement in his 3-point shooting, ball handling, and footwork.

Markelle Fultz, the first pick in the 2017 NBA draft by the Philadelphia 76ers, became the starting point guard for the Orlando Magic just six games into this season.

Fultz has only played 33 NBA games coming into the 2019-2020 season due to injuries. In case you don’t remember, Fultz was traded to the Magic in February 2019, in exchange for Jonathon Simmons and two second round draft picks.

Since Fultz’s addition to the starting lineup, the Magic’s offensive efficiency has ranked 18th in the league, scoring an average 108 points per game, which is a significant improvement from the first 6 games.

Fultz has been aggressive at getting to the paint, finishing at the rim, and finding guys open for easy baskets.

And on the defensive side of the ball, Fultz has been a disrupter. His 6’4” frame with a 6’9” wingspan has caused defections and steals.

Fultz needs to keep improving on his mid-range jumper and three-point shot. He’s shown flashes of why he was the number one pick in the draft. Due to injuries, this year has essentially been Fultz’s rookie season.

Fultz was diagnosed with the nerve condition Thoracic outlet syndrome. Many NBA experts did not think Fultz would ever play again. He has had plenty of doubters since he made it into the league, and he isn’t going to let them get to him.

Markelle Fultz, at the age of 21, and Jonathan Isaac, at the age of 22, are two young pieces stepping up for the Orlando Magic.

Both players have shown great instincts of both ends of the court. With time and effort both will start to get closer star-player-status in the NBA.

Becoming A Man

By: TJ Hartnett

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

I’m friends on Facebook with this guy I went to college with and after every single Atlanta Hawks game, he posts the exact same status update: “Trae Young is the best PG in the league!” After every single game.

Whether or not that statement is true might be debatable, but Young is certainly an incredible player. Young became the second player in NBA history to have at least two 49+ point games before turning 22 years old.

And just to make sure you’re following: that means that Trae Young is only 21.

Those 49 points tied a career high for the young Hawk (Young Hawk, even); he also matched a career best with eight three-point shots, his third time reaching that mark.

Despite the team’s overall struggles (the Hawks are 4-15, tied for dead last at the bottom of the Eastern Conference pile with the New York Knicks), Young has emerged as a bona-fide superstar.  He is the kind of home-grown talent that the Hawks have been yearning for and missing out on for years.

Atlanta may be losing, but it’s nothing to do with their star point guard. In fact, both of Young’s 49-point master classes have come in games that Atlanta has lost.

He’s top ten in the league in points and top five in assists, having massively improved upon a rookie campaign that was in equal turns fascinating and frustrating.

All last season, Young had critical eyes on him. He wasn’t Luca Doncic might’ve been the consensus; and he’s a smaller player, so how’s going to play on defense? Will his scoring translate to the NBA?

All that chirping had to have put a chip on Young’s shoulder, and he’s playing like that chip lit a fire under him, if I may mix my metaphors.

He finished up his first year in the league on a high note but has gone far beyond simply picking up where he left off. All of his offensive stats are higher than last season’s. Atlanta is starting to grow accustomed to 25-30 points per game with double-digit (or close to it) assists.

Does he need to improve his defense? Sure. But with his offense game so stellar, it’s something he can afford to work on.

He also has work to do on midrange shots. While his size disadvantage doesn’t really matter when he is drilling threes, the closer he gets to the basket the tougher it is for him to produce.

But even there he’s showing improvement, from 10 feet from the hoop to the 3-point line, Young has been shooting over 5 percent better this season than last. For a player that has the ball as much as he does, even that small improvement goes a long way.

His maturity and leadership are a big part of his game as well. He’s made these improvements and broken out, not just with a struggling team, but with a vastly different one than he started with last season.

With so much turnover on the roster, it would have made sense for Young to need time to get acclimated to his new teammates. Instead, he’s been hot right from the first tip-off.

The team is going through growing pains but that isn’t a surprise.

Even if the Hawks could have predicted the huge steps Young would take this early in his career (and they certainly couldn’t have foreseen this), the team wasn’t going to be a contender; at least, not yet.

But they know they’ve got a centerpiece around which they can build a winning team. They’ve got at least a sense of the player Trae Young can be. Which is to say: the sky is the limit.

Bad Entertainment

By: JJ Lanier

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

It’s been a rough few weeks for any fan that happens to pull for a team residing in the state of Georgia.

The Braves finished off what was a pleasant season with a memorable, for all the wrong reasons, playoff loss.

The Bulldogs find themselves on the outside of the college playoffs and even if certain things pan out the way they need them to, still may not be able to overcome their loss to South Carolina.

And as for the Falcons, I think the only way their season could get any worse is if they actually string together enough wins over the second half of the season that Dan Quinn keeps his job.

So, in the wake of these past few weeks I’m going to say something I never thought I would’ve said a month and a half ago, it’s time to start watching the Atlanta Hawks.

It’s not that I think the Hawks are title contenders, but they’ve got a great core of young talent that even in defeat they will be entertaining to watch- something I think will happen more often than not, despite their strong start to the season.

Of course, the excitement begins with Trae Young. Coaches like to refer to a player’s ability to shoot by saying they’re in range once the cross-half court. In most cases it’s just a figure of speech, but in Young’s case, it’s spot on.

Part of Young’s appeal is that he has more “What a dumb….holy hell that was a great play” possessions than a Harlem Globetrotter.

The other part of his appeal, and one that somewhat plays into the first part, is that he’s just as likely to commit ten turnovers as he is to rack up ten assists. You truly never know which guy you’re going to get on any given night, which makes things a bit interesting.

Surrounding the talented guard is a bevy of young players- John Collins, Kevin Huerter, De’Andre Hunter, Cam Reddish- all of whom are gifted enough to be potential All-Stars down the road.

The addition of Jabari Parker in the off-season seemed to increase the level of intrigue, at least on the offensive end.

Parker reminds you of that kid in middle school who could score on anyone, at any time, but tended to avoid playing defense like a child at a salad bar.

Parker’s just as likely to score thirty points as he is to give up thirty to the person he’s supposedly guarding.

And then there’s Vince Carter, one of the few North Carolina players this Duke fan roots for.

Obviously, the highlight reel plays don’t occur with the regularity they used to, but to see Carter still be able to perform some of athletic feats he’s capable of at his age (42) is nothing short of incredible.

There’s no doubt Atlanta has had better teams in the past, but even many of those years had a cloud of lethargy hanging over their heads due to the mundane, workmanlike feel to the games. They were exiting because the team was winning, not necessarily because of how the team played.

Not saying that’s a bad thing, but if the Hawks are still a year or two away from realistically making a playoff push, at least they’re giving you reasons to show up and watch.

If you’re going to be bad, might as well be entertaining; otherwise, you’re just the Falcons.

Hawks Free Agent Radar

By: TJ Hartnett

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The NBA offseason, unlike the MLB offseason, is divided somewhat neatly into two parts: pre-draft and post-draft.

This is to say that teams look forward to adding to their rosters primarily with the excitement and intrigue of the draft during the short time between it and the preceding NBA finals; and then they look forward to fortifying the rest of their squad afterwards via free agency.

Now that the NBA Draft is in the rearview mirror, the Atlanta Hawks need to look ahead. That starts with filling out the rest of their roster.

They have enough pieces that a serviceable team could conceivably be put on the court without any other additions, but there are enough question marks and uncertainties that free agency could hold some appeal for Travis Schlenk, should he want to pull the trigger on anyone.

Now we’re not talking about Kevin Durant, functioning Achilles’ or not. That’s obviously not in the cards for a ton of reasons (money for one, but also KD will want to go after an immediate ring, and the Hawks are still in rebuilding mode).

However, there are a few significant names that could potentially be lured to Atlanta. Malcolm Brogdon, for one, could work off of Trae Young or even sub in for the point guard when necessary.

He might find playing for his hometown team a sufficient enough draw to join the team, but – and this is why it’s unlikely to happen – he’d need to take a significant discount to return to his roots.

Thaddeus Young (Georgia Tech) and Al-Farouq Aminu (Norcross High School) have local connections as well, and both could fit in well with the way the team is constructed, but again both are unlikely to find Atlanta’s offer better than something they could get elsewhere.

There’s a real question about options at center. Dewayne Dedmon is a free agent but he may yet return to the Hawks and solve that problem.

In truth, he might be the best available (and most affordable) option that Atlanta has. There are some other free agent centers, however – like Kevon Looney, who is young and talented, but who the Golden State Warriors might not let go of so easily.

Willie Cauley-Stein and Maxi Kleber are both on the table as well, but with the caveat that they’re restricted free agents and therefore their prices may be prohibitive.

Let’s not forget (very recent) former Hawk and future Hall of Famer Vince Carter as a potential free agent pick up for Atlanta. Carter, the oldest player in the league, seems to want to return and the Hawks are likely interested in the prospect as well.

The Hawks would know what they were getting in Carter, who would once again bring an invaluable intangible to the roster as a veteran, even though his lack of future value does drag down a team in the midst of building for the years ahead.

The Hawks are currently sitting with 14 contracted players (assuming that second round pick Bruno Fernando signs his deal in the near future) with space to add one more.

Any of the above could be Hawks before the season starts this fall (or several – there’s no reason to think that Schlenk couldn’t maneuver more roster spots through a savvy trade or two).

Whichever route they choose to take during this free agency period, expect the moves to be more practical than splashy. Deciding on a rebuild and sticking to it is a tough road to navigate, but so far it seems like the Hawks are planning to stay the course.

Hawk-some Future

By: JJ Lanier

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Post draft grades are about as useful as a witness protection program for Wil Byers.

So, instead of handing out a grade for each of Atlanta’s three picks, here is what you can expect to see from them; good and bad.

DeAndre Hunter: I’ll say this, while Danny Ainge’s love affair with draft picks leads me to believe the entire first round will comprise of Boston picks five years now, Atlanta GM Travis Schlenk released his inner “Brewster’s Millions” and spent them all, in one way or another.

The biggest move he made was trading the 8th and 17th pick to get Hunter at #4. After seeing Williamson, Morant, and Barrett go off the board, it’s difficult to get overly excited about Hunter, but I like the pick.

During his two years at Virginia he proved to be one of the better defenders in college ball and is an underrated scorer.

His upside isn’t as high some others, including the Hawks 8th pick which I’ll get to in a minute, but he’s as solid a player as you’ll come across in this year’s group. Hunter has all the makings of a solid 12-15 year career, something the Hawks will more than happy with.

Cam Reddish: Winston Churchill once stated “It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key”. He was referencing Russia, but he may as well have been talking about Reddish some 80 years later.

As a Duke fan I watched just about every game this season and I have no idea what to expect from the least heralded, but most complete, of the three Duke freshman.

Some analysts have questioned his dedication due to his tendency to “disappear” for stretches, as well as his desire to play defense; neither of which I completely agree with.

Yes, Reddish has admitted he needs to improve his work ethic, but I think he fell into the trap many of us did this year, star gazing at his more accomplished peers.

Also, he’s a young kid who was just inconsistent on the offensive end; nothing more, nothing less.

As for the defense, I never saw him slack off on that end of the court, and in fact, most Duke insiders will tell you his defensive movement and understanding surprised the coaches more than anything.

I have no idea what the key is to unleash his full potential, but if Lloyd Pierce can figure it out, the Hawks may have gotten the steal of the draft.

Mr. Bright Side

By: JJ Lanier

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

When the NBA Draft Lottery was over, every organization represented, outside of New Orleans, must have felt as if they were caught in the middle of a funeral procession; their hopes of drafting Zion Williamson had just died before their eyes.

For Atlanta, their chance of landing college basketball’s most exciting player in over a decade was slim to begin with. I wouldn’t have blamed Jami Gertz, the Hawks representative at the lottery, had she gone ahead and just worn black.

As for the overall draft lottery, Atlanta’s night was a bit of a mixed bag.

For starters, besides missing out on the number one pick they wound up with the 8th overall pick, only one spot above their worst possible outcome.

On the other hand, since Dallas’ pick fell outside the top five (10th overall) it went to Atlanta- courtesy of last year’s trade- giving the Hawks two top 10 picks.

Now that the lottery is set it’s just a matter of who Atlanta decides to go with. If their history is any indication, like most every other organization in the NBA, it’s a bit of a mixed bag, too.

This will be only the third draft since 2007, and 10th in the past 30 years, that has seen the Hawks with a lottery pick. (That’s impressive when you think about it. During the past three decades Atlanta has basically spent two of those decades in the playoffs. Of course, they don’t have a single NBA Finals appearance to show for it, but that’s another story for another time).

Over that 30-year time frame there have been some lottery success stories with Jason Terry (1999), Al Horford (2007) Trae Young (2018).

On the other hand, there have also been some flat out busts: Adam Keefe, DerMarr Johnson, and Sheldon Williams.

There’s also a trade where the Hawks basically gave away a young Pau Gasol for two years of Shareef Abdur-Rahim and a handful of magic beans, but we won’t talk about that. You’ve got some good, you’ve got some bad.

It’s almost disingenuous and a bit lazy to say Atlanta has a lot riding on this year’s draft; anytime you’re drafting in the lottery it’s important. There are a few things that seem to add a bit more to this year though.

The draft itself is top heavy, with RJ Barrett, Ja Morant, and Williamson being the consensus top three picks, and not in that order, obviously.

However, after those three there is a pretty precipitous drop in talent. That’s not to say there isn’t anyone worthwhile outside of those three, there’s just much more of an inherent risk.

The Hawks have a nice nucleus of young talent and getting someone that can contribute within the next year or two will go a long way in their return to the playoffs.

Then there’s the matter of the 10th pick. Young and Luka Doncic will always be compared to each other since they were the names involved in last year’s trade. Who Atlanta chooses with that 10th pick and how well that player performs will play just as vital a role in how this trade is perceived five to ten years down the road.

The draft order may not have turned out exactly how they wanted, but with two top 10 picks Atlanta has an opportunity to continue building.

Who knows, maybe under the funeral attire there just might be a celebratory outfit after all.

Options

By: TJ Hartnett

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

As March Madness fades even further in the rearview mirror and the NBA season winds down as it ramps up for the playoffs, the convergence of the two levels appears on the horizon: the NBA Draft.

Pro teams wait for the draft lottery to see where they’ll land while college players wait for the chance make the leap to the big time.

This year the draft features an embarrassment of riches; a wealth of young talent that could potentially chance the fortunes of any team that has been struggling. Impressively, a few of those game-changing talents all come from one place.

Any NCAA basketball team would be a threat if they could boast just one player who might get drafted in the top 10 of the NBA Draft. However, this past season saw the Duke Blue Devils boast THREE players that could be considered for high picks.

While the draft lottery has yet to come, the Atlanta Hawks can at least count on an early pick and therefore need to start looking at Duke’s Big 3 to see which of those players might be the best fit come draft time.

R.J. Barrett, Cam Reddish and Zion Williamson are all leaving college behind and should all expect to hear their names called without much time passing in between when the draft happens later in the summer.

There isn’t much more to be said about Zion Williamson that hasn’t already been said by every sports show, paper, and fan, and if the Hawks do wind up with the number one pick in the draft, it’s a no-brainer to draft his game-changing talent.

Williamson’s star power might overwhelm some of the other young and talented players the Hawks have already enlisted but John Collins and Trae Young might see his presence as a challenge and up their own games.

There’s also the chance that pulling focus away from those two might help them grow and develop without as much pressure, since they’re essentially the focal point of the team’s future plans at the moment.

In short, Zion is the best player available, and the Hawks would surely love for him to suit up in Atlanta.

If they don’t end up with the first pick in the draft and assuming that Williamson goes first, there are still two Blue Devils options available – R.J. Barrett and Cam Reddish.

Barrett would help the team with shot creation options, as Trae Young (and Taurean Prince, to a certain extent) is the only Hawk who seems to be able to make that happen right now.

Barrett sometimes tries for shots he doesn’t need to in an effort to win at all costs, but he could gain valuable experience handling the ball off the bench in Atlanta if he takes to Lloyd Pierce’s coaching style.

That leaves Cam Reddish.

Reddish, much more than either of his two eminently talented teammates, struggled quite heartily in his freshman season at Duke. The 19-year-old could never quite find his niche on the team, which should’ve been catch-and-shoot, three-and-D specialist, but Reddish could often be seen hurtling into traffic toward the paint, then getting called for an increasingly predictable offensive foul as defenders were sent flying as he careened into them wildly.

However, Reddish showed brilliant flashes throughout the year and made himself a legend at Duke with a pair of clutch baskets that won key games for them during the season.

He’s got enough raw, untapped potential that he will certainly get snatched up early in the draft and the Hawks might be the team that calls his name.

Worst Of The worst

By: Kenneth Harrison Jr.

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The NBA regular season is almost over. We know who the top contenders are and also the struggling teams. This makes me wonder what is the worst division in the league?

It looks like the Southeast division is by far the weakest. The best team, the Miami Heat are only 38-38. Every other division leader has at least 50 wins.

Miami currently holds the eighth seed in the playoffs. Orlando (38-39) is ninth and Charlotte (35-41) is tenth.

The other two teams in the division, Washington (32-46) and Atlanta (28-49) are terrible.

One of the reasons the division is so bad is because it lacks talent. Only four players made the 2019 All-Star Game and only one was a starter. They were Kemba Walker (24.9 PPG, 5.6 APG), Nikola Vucevic (20.4 PPG, 10.6 RPG), Bradley Beal (25.1 PPG, 5.4 APG) and Dwyane Wade (14 PPG). Being honest, Wade was voted in out of sympathy because it is his last season.

Walker has made three All-Star appearances. John Wall is also an elite player that has made five All-Star teams but he was injured in December (ruptured Achilles) and he is out the rest of the year.

Historically, these teams are some of the worst in the NBA. The Miami Heat are the most successful with three championships. All of them came this century. The only other franchises that have championships are the Washington Bullets (1978) and St. Louis Hawks (1958).

The Orlando Magic have reached the Finals twice. Charlotte has never made a Finals appearance. Another possible reason for the lack of success might be due to having several smaller markets.

Fans in the South may have better days ahead due to the young talent available. Rookie Trae Young got off to a slow start when the season began. The Hawks drafted Luka Doncic and traded him on draft night for Young.

I still feel that Doncic is the better player but Atlanta also gained an additional first round pick this year because of that trade. I think that could turn out to be a great move in the long run.

Young has averaged 25.8 PPG, 9.0 APG and 4.4 RPG since the All-Star break and became only the eighth rookie in league history to log at least 35 points and 11 assists in a game during the Hawks’ 133–111 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The 20-year-olds claim to the rookie class’ highest honor has since gained traction, with Donovan Mitchell, Kyle Kuzma and Blake Griffin all declaring Young the victor after he dropped 32 points, 11 assists and a game-winner on the Philadelphia 76ers.

The current projected draft order will have Atlanta picking fifth and sixth overall.

Washington should have the seventh pick. Charlotte (12th), Miami (13th) and Orlando (15th) all have high draft picks. They all have the opportunity to acquire great players that can change the hopes of the franchise.

I cannot picture any of these teams being contenders next season but they can improve. I think we will see multiple teams from the Southeast make the playoffs in 2020.

Bad Bounces

By: TJ Hartnett

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Turnovers are a part of any NBA game. It’s like strikeouts in a baseball game or having the punt the ball in football. They will happen. But how often they happen can make or break a season.

Only once this season have the Atlanta Hawks committed less than 10 turnovers in a game and they lost that game anyway.

On the other end of the spectrum, they have over 15 games with at least 20 turnovers, far and away the worst in the league. Some teams have a one or two players responsible for high turnover rates, but for the Hawks, it’s pretty much everyone. And they aren’t bad, they are historically awful.

All things in balance, since the Hawks have an excellent shot profile and they don’t take very many mid-range shots, those shots lead to an increased turnover rate, and defenses are adept at stopping Atlanta’s offense in that situation. It’s not entirely to blame for the awful turnover rate, but it’s a big area of concern.

The issue is that a team chocked full of rookies and other young players are being tasked with taking almost exclusively three points or layups. Trae Young and Kevin Huerter just don’t have the experience to handle the ball with regularity and prevent turnovers. Veteran players like Kent Bazemore, who isn’t a ball handler by trade, are out of their element when asked to do so.

Jeremy Lin turns the ball over nearly twenty percent of the time. Taurean Prince, Dewayne Dedmon and Alex Len all turn the ball over more than 15% of the time. Young and Huerter have growing to do, but the fact that the team’s seasoned players are having career-worst seasons is inexcusable.

The coaching staff has, somewhat inexplicably, not found the time to be concerned about the turnovers.

Granted, the correlation between turnovers and team success has lessened in the past decade and a half, but Coach Pierce is not working on fixing the problem. Instead, he has made it clear that he’d rather his team throw the ball around and grow without strict oversight. It’s understandable for the youth, but those veterans are being allowed free reign to turn the ball over with impunity.

The call is probably right. Trae Young will learn by doing, and he will stumble and he will turn the ball over; but he’s also a talent the likes of which haven’t been seen in Atlanta in a long time.

He’s an incredible passer and with each turnover he will figure out what not to do, and before we all blink, he’ll be one of the best in the league at making plays.

Ditto for Huerter and Jason Collins, who turn the ball over more than anyone would like but need to be given the freedom to explore what they can do with the ball in their hands and hone those skills, rather than be typecast into certain roles this early in their career.

The veterans on the team shouldn’t have that same luxury, but it’s certainly understandable if Pierce feels that he can’t chew out a veteran for the same turnover a rookie is making without losing a bit of credibility with the older guys.

Atlanta’s turnover problem is massive and is holding them back from making the next step (even amid improved overall play) in terms of offensive output, but there’s a method to Pierce’s madness.

The long-term development of players like Young, Huerter, and Collins will have speed bumps along the way; it’s just an unfortunate coincidence that the rest of the team seems to have followed suit in this specific area.

Trading Places

By: TJ Hartnett

GeorgiaSportsEdition.com news services

Look, we all knew that the 2018-19 season was going to be a tough one for the Atlanta Hawks.

We hoped for the best; not that they would contend, but that they would show some sparks and some reasons for future excitement.

At the very least, the front office would be able to get a feel for what they were working with and how they could start making improvements during the rebuilding process.

And it’s been tough.

Now that is bad news. However, it provides the front office a place to start as they look for trade options to improve their struggling roster. So where will they look? The key is looking at where some of the pieces the Hawks might see fit to move could end up and what those trades could bring back to Atlanta.

As a team in the middle of a rebuild, the Hawks’ rookie core is where Atlanta will hang their hat and they will try to strengthen that core with even more young talent.

They don’t get much younger than the 76ers Markelle Fultz, who can’t legally drink until next May. With Jimmy Butler arriving in Philly, Fultz is going to get even fewer touches, and his relationship with the Philadelphia brass is fairly fraught after an injury that neither side thinks was handled well by the other.

If Fultz wants to start over with a new franchise where he is sure to spend a fair amount of minutes on the court instead of the sidelines, Atlanta is the best location.

He’ll have the added bonus of being a key player on a team with none of the associated stress, since Atlanta has already been written off and forgotten about by pretty much everyone. Fultz could use that breathing room to regain his college form.

What might it take to pry Fultz away from the 76ers? How about some insurance at center? When Joel Embiid leaves the game for Philly, he leaves a void that Amir Johnson and Mike Muscala just can’t fill. However, Dewayne Dedmon might be able to handle it. Dedmon can play the position plus hit a three when he needs to.

The lanky center is far from the only moveable piece on the Hawks’ current roster. The other notable veterans that might benefit the Hawks move by being shipped off are Kent Bazemore and Jeremy Lin.

Lin isn’t the kind of superstar that would bring back an incredible haul, but if the Hawks can find a partner that desperately needs a point guard, they could fetch themselves a young player with a high upside.

Bazemore has been the Hawks’ sole constant during the last few years, the final remaining player from brighter days in Atlanta’s NBA history (and he only arrived in 2014), but his stellar defensive play is being wasted.

He’s a starting player for a team that needs one. The Pelicans need one and would likely be willing to part ways with a future first-round pick to get their hands on a player like Baze.

As tough as it might be to see some of the more experienced players depart from a team that is lacking in bright spots, the Hawks have to consider 2019 and beyond.

This season was a lost cause before the very first tip-off; this double-digit losing streak has only brought that into clearer focus. If the Hawks want to improve, they’ll need to start by trading players who are more valuable to others than to Atlanta.

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