NBA

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With The First Pick The Atlanta Hawks Select….

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The Atlanta Hawks shocked the basketball world by winning the NBA Draft Lottery.

This is the Hawks’ first time getting the No. 1 pick since 1975, when they ended up drafting David Thompson, a five-time All-Star and NBA Hall of Famer. The Draft Lottery was not established yet, so it is the first time they won it.

The Detroit Pistons, who had the league-worst 14-68 record, could not believe it as they had the best odds at 14% to get the No. 1 pick.

The Washington Wizards were 15-67 and they also had great odds to land the number one pick. They have the No. 2 pick.

In 2023-24, they finished the season 36-46, which resulted in the tenth-highest lottery odds. They owned a 3% chance at the No. 1 overall pick and a 13.9% chance at a selection in the top four.

This is very shocking for this franchise. They are never championship contenders but not bad enough to pick high enough to select a superstar. This has finally changed.

The only problem is this year’s draft does not have a consensus top prospect like Victor Wembanyama was last year.

Some of the top prospects for the Hawks to consider are center Alexandre Sarr (France), point guard/shooting guard Stephon Castle (UConn), point guard Nikola Topic (Serbia) and small forward/power forward Ron Holland (G League Ignite).

Holland was a McDonald’s All-American in 2023. He averaged 19.5 points per game in the G League as an 18 year old. He is very skilled and has good athleticism. Holland is 6’8, 206 pounds so he needs to put on more weight. He only shoots 24% from the arc, so that’s frightening.

Sarr is 7’1 and 216 pounds. He has a smaller frame but he is more of an old school center. The 19 year old played in Australia’s NBL last season. He played 27 games and averaged 9.4 ppg, 4.3 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game.

He is raw offensively and needs to develop his skillset. He is a solid defensive player but I don’t think that is enough for a number one draft pick.

Castle is a Georgia native and graduated from Newton High School in Covington, GA.

Obviously, he won a national championship with the Huskies last season. He averaged 11.1 ppg, 4.7 rpg and 2.9 apg. He’s 6’6 so he’s a bigger guard. He did not really get to display his skillset because he played in a true team system.

Topic won a gold medal with Serbia at the U18 European Championships. He played on two different teams in the AdmiralBet League (ABA) in 2023-24. He averaged 18.4 ppg in twelve games for Mega MIS. He has a well-rounded game on offense and he can score. He’s 6’6 and he turns 19 in August.

If Atlanta decides to draft another point guard they might have to trade their current star, Trae Young.

The 2024 NBA Draft will be the first ever two-day event, beginning at 7 p.m. CT on Wednesday, June 26 and concluding with the second round on Thursday, June 27.

It will be at the Barclays Center, which is the home of the Brooklyn Nets.

 

 

 

The Newcomers

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

We are going to review the 2023 NBA Draft and grade the draft class for the following franchises.

Charlotte: They selected Brandon Miller (Alabama) with the No. 2 pick.

Some scouts had Scoot Henderson as a better choice but Miller is a good player. He’s a 6’9 wing who can run pick-and-roll and shoot threes with volume. He led the Crimson Tide to one of the programs best season’s and made them a national championship contender.

Shooting guard Nick Smith Jr. (Arkansas) was the 27th pick. Smith was a wonderful upside swing in the late first. He was projected as a top-5 pick a year ago before a rough freshman season at Arkansas that saw him battle through a knee injury. If he can stay healthy he should be a very good player. The first pick in the second round was power forward James Nnaji (Barcelona). He is a physical player that plays above the rim on both ends.

Shooting guard Amari Bailey (UCLA) was the final pick. He has a well-rounded skillset.

Grade: B+

Atlanta: Guard Kobe Bufkin was selected at No. 15. He can play either guard spot with impressive rim finishing and reliable spot-up three-point shooting, features that make him a nice fit as a third guard alongside Dejounte Murray and Trae Young.

Atlanta is in a weird position because they are an average team. That means they aren’t bad enough to get high draft picks so they are always stuck picking in the middle of the first round. Unfortunately, the difference makers are gone after the first five picks.

Washington State center Mouhamed Gueye was the 39th pick. He’s an athletic big man that could look like a steal if he learns how to shoot. Penn State forward Seth Lundy is a decent pick midway through the second round.

Grade: B

Memphis: The Grizzlies made their big move just before the draft when they landed Marcus Smart in a three-team trade with the Celtics.

They did not have a first-round pick so forward GG Jackson II (South Carolina) was selected with the 45th pick. He made the 2023 SEC All-Freshman Team. He played all 32 games and averaged 15.4 points and 5.9 rebounds per game.

Jackson is a nice upside gamble in the middle of the second round as a super young shot-creating forward.

They also drafted forward Tarik Biberovic (Fenerbahce Beko) with the 56th pick.

Grade: B

Miami: They only had one pick and selected small forward Jaime Jaquez Jr. (UCLA) at No. 18. Jaquez was a four-year college superstar at UCLA who slowly earned the NBA’s respect for his toughness, shot-making, and physical intensity. I think he will be a good fit for the Heat.

Grade: B

New Orleans: With the 14th pick they got guard Jordan Hawkins (U Conn).

The Pelicans needed shooting after finishing No. 29 in the league in three-point attempts last season, and they drafted one of the best shooters in the class in Hawkins.

He is an incredibly skilled movement shooter who should help bend defenses off the ball while Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram control the action. The fit makes sense but he is a smaller guard and may be a liability on defense.

Grade: C

Orlando: The picked point guard Anthony Black (Arkansas) No. 6 and small forward Jett Howard (Michigan) No. 11.

I wasn’t quite as high on Black as some others, but it’s easy to see the appeal as a big guard with defensive versatility. Howard is a very good shooter.

Grade: B

Shaking Out The Lottery

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The 2023 NBA Draft is June 22nd. Let’s take a look at the teams around the Southeast and see what players they’re likely to select in the first round.

Charlotte (27 – 55): The Hornets hold the No. 2 pick. The consensus top pick in the draft is 7’4 center Victor Wembanyama. He’s projected to be the top pick for San Antonio. If that does not happen Charlotte would take him.

The most likely pick will be guard Scoot Henderson. Henderson has played in the G League for the Ignite for the past two years.

In the 2022-23 season he averaged 17.6 points per game, 6.6 assists and 5.1 rebounds. He has proven that he can play on or off the ball. Henderson will be a great backcourt mate with LaMelo Ball because they project to be a good fit offensively.

Orlando (34 – 48): The Magic have two lottery picks, sixth and eleventh. They are looking to add another piece to a roster that features Paolo Banchero, Markelle Fultz, Jalen Suggs, Franz Wagner, and others.

The best available remaining player at No. 6 should be Jarace Walker (Houston). He was the AAC Freshman of the Year last season.

The 6’8 forward averaged 11.2 ppg, 6.8 rpg and 1.8 apg. He measured in with a 7-foot, 2.5-inch wingspan at the draft combine, something that the Magic will love. Outside of his defense, Walker showed that he can be a capable shooter at the next level after converting 34.7% from the three-point line.

The 11th pick might be Kansas forward Gradey Dick. He is a player that could step in and fill an immediate need for the Magic: 3-point shooting.

He set the Jayhawks freshman record for most 3s in a season (83) after shooting 40.3% shooting from 3-point range. The Magic desperately need shooting so Dick could be the pick here.

New Orleans (42-40): The Pelicans are a team on the cusp of being very good. They have a star player in Zion Williamson but he struggles with his weight and injuries.

6’10 forward Leonard Miller might be a good fit. He played for the G League Ignite and averaged 16.9 ppg and 10.1 rpg. He does much of his work in the paint but shot 30.4% from 3-point range on 2.4 attempts per game last season.

Atlanta (41 – 41): The Hawks have the 15th pick. I think their problem is they typically are an average team every year and they typically draft in the mid to late teens. Trae Young is a star player but they keep struggling to add another elite player. Since they don’t have a high pick they will be looking for another role player.

Michigan guard Kobe Bufkin might be a good fit. He’s 6’4 so he would add size to the backcourt and he averaged 14 ppg.

Miami: The Heat are on the verge of getting into the Eastern Conference Finals. They have the No. 18 pick so they look to add a younger piece to a good team.

Indiana point guard Jalen Hood-Schifino would be a good pick. He’s 6’6 so he has the size to defend both guard positions.

He showed great poise throughout the year and dished out the fourth-most assists (117) in program history by a freshman.

Memphis (51 – 31): The Grizzlies will select forward Bilal Coulibaly (France). He has the ability to get downhill and finish at the rim.

 

NBA Newcomers

By: Jason Bishop

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The NBA Draft has come and gone for another season. In recent years the draft has not been very deep. In most scenarios if you do not hold one of the first three of four picks then you are not drafting a franchise-type player.

This draft was no different. Many experts believed the first four players taken were players that could change the fortunes of an organization but after that, such impact players did not exist.

There were no surprises at the top either. The Orlando Magic took Paolo Banchero number one overall.

Banchero was a star at forward for the Duke Blue Devils. The true freshman averaged over 17 points per game and over 7 rebounds per game.

Banchero is 6’10-250 pounds. He has great size and has a good NBA body. I think Banchero will find success in playing down low and being physical in the NBA, more than he will find with playing at the top of the key and being the main option.

Don’t get me wrong, I think Banchero will be a solid NBA player, but I don’t see him as a superstar; he is a good building block and will be a great core piece for the Magic.

The Atlanta Hawks had the 16th overall pick and with it selected another Duke F, AJ Griffin.

Griffin also has an NBA-ready frame, at 6’6 220 pounds. Griffin started slow for the Blue Devils but became crucial for Duke during their late season run.

Griffin has NBA pedigree as well. He is the son of NBA veteran and Toronto Raptors assistant coach Adrian Griffin. Griffin was also a McDonald’s All-American and was considered one of the top 15 players in last fall’s incoming freshman class.

Missing much of the preseason with a leg injury, the New York native got off to a slow start in his lone collegiate season. Griffin also made the ACC All-Rookie Team. He averaged over 10 points per game for Duke.

What I like the most about Griffin is the ability for him to create his own shot. This will help the Hawks if he can improve on his ball handling and quickness.

The Magic also took Caleb Houstan. Houstan was a F out of Michigan, 6-8 205 pounds. Houstan was the 32nd overall pick.

The Hawks would have had the 44th pick but it was traded to the Golden State Warriors.

The first 5 picks of the NBA Draft were as follows:

 

1.Paolo Banchero-Magic

2.Chet Holmgren-Thunder

3.Jabari Smith-Rockets

4.Keegan Murray-Kings

5.Jaden Ivey-Pistons

Hawks Flying To NBA Finals?

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The Atlanta Hawks are making an improbable playoff run.

They just beat the No.1 seed in the East, Philadelphia, in Game 7 of the East Semifinals to advance to the Conference Finals.

They overcame a subpar performance from the team’s star, Trae Young. He was 5 for 23 from the floor. Young did finish with 21 points and 10 assists.

“I knew I had to find a way,” Young said. “My shot was off. My right hand and shoulder were giving out. But my teammates showed up and made plays. I wanted to come through in the end and help them out.”

Shooting guard Kevin Huerter led the team with 27 points, making 10 of 18 shots (55%).

Danilo Gallinari had 17 points off the bench. John Collins had 14 points and 16 rebounds.

“This team is special, man,” Huerter said. “Everybody has counted us out all year. For us to make it this far and win in this building in Game 7, it’s huge for us.”

Lloyd Pierce was fired as the head coach and Nate McMillan was named interim head coach on March 1, 2021. The Hawks went 27 – 11 and won the Southeast division.

“I felt like they were built for this moment tonight to win this game,” Coach Nate McMillan said.

MVP runner up Joel Embiid had 31 points, 11 rebounds and 8 turnovers playing with a meniscus tear in his right knee.

The other star for the Sixers, Ben Simmons played poorly. He only had 5 points in the game and routinely passed up open shots. In the series he shot 33% from the free throw line, which is clearly terrible.

Atlanta had been 0-9 in Games 7s on the road. Now they are advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 2015.

This marked only the second year since 1973 — when the NBA began seeding for the playoffs by conference — when neither No. 1 seed will make the conference finals. The Clippers eliminated West No. 1 seed Utah.

“We gave them life from Game 1,” 76ers forward Tobias Harris said. “It’s a young, hungry team.”

The next test waiting for Atlanta are the Milwaukee Bucks, the No. 3 seed in the East. The Bucks are led by superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo, AKA the Greek Freak.

This season he averaged 28.1 ppg, 11 rpg and 5.9 apg. He makes 56.9% of his field goals but he plays close to the basket. He only shoots 30.3% from the three-point line. In Game 7 against the No. 2 seed Brooklyn Nets, he had 40 points and 13 rebounds.

The deciding factor in the series will come from the rest of the team. Giannis will play well, but he needs help from his teammates.

Small forward Kris Middleton averaged 20.4 ppg and 6 rpg this season. If he plays well consistently Milwaukee will be tough to beat.

Game 1 is Wednesday, 8:30 pm in Milwaukee. We will see if the Hawks can continue to be road warriors and steal the opening game.

I think the playoff run comes to an end for Atlanta. I expect the Bucks to win in 6 games.

True To Atlanta

By: Buck Blanz

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Wednesday night the Atlanta Hawks pulled off one of the greatest late-game comebacks in Hawks’ history.

The Hawks were losing by 24 with 2:10 left in the third quarter in a game where Atlanta seemed out of sorts from the beginning.

After being down by as many as 26 points in Wednesday night’s game 5, the Hawks would have to climb their way out of a hole that they dug early.

So, who would bet against the Hawks this time? The answer… almost everyone (including me), but fortunately most everyone was very wrong.

Throughout the first half of Game 5 in Philadelphia, the 76ers appeared to play their best basketball of the series. They were swinging the ball from wing to wing making the Hawks get set to play defense instead of leaking out in transition for easy buckets.

Philadelphia continued to shoot over 50% from the field. As they have throughout this series, it looked like the Hawks had no answer, especially for Embiid.

Joel Embiid began his night having his way with Clint Capela allowing him to taunt the crowd while playing very aggressive and physical. For a 76ers fan that is what you want, but then things began to turn in favor of Atlanta.

As many of the coaches and players on this resilient Hawks team have said before, ‘this team never quits’, and they don’t. As a fan of Atlanta sports, I must say that it is really nice being on the other side of an epic collapse throughout a game in which the 76ers should’ve won by 20, if not 30.

Throughout the first half of game 5 the Hawks could not buy a basket, nothing seemed to roll their way, until the 76ers seemed to take their foot off the gas then things changed.

After being down by 24 late in the third quarter, Atlanta quickly went on an 8-2 run to close out the third shifting the momentum in favor of the Hawks, which ultimately carried through the end of the game.

This Atlanta Hawks team has made it clear they have weapons; the trick is just finding what weapons are working on any given night.

Wednesday night those game-altering contributions came from the veterans Danilo Gallonari and the Atlanta native, Lou Williams. With each respectively adding 15 and 16 points while coupling with their veteran leadership in the playoffs is important for this young Hawks squad.

Along with the veteran contributions, it all begins with your star player and his approach. In this case, as we all know, that would be Trae Young.

Young’s ever-rising superstar status has been highlighted throughout this series and this playoff run.

Last night, Trae dropped a playoff career-high 39 points, while stealing game 5 from Philly in Philly giving Atlanta a 3-2 series lead with game 6 Friday in Atlanta.

Only one win separates the fifth seeded Atlanta Hawks from the Eastern Conference Finals.

Flying Through Playoffs

By: Buck Blanz

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Heading into this series against the Knicks, the Atlanta Hawks knew that they were the more talented team.

The young Hawks squad, led by All-Star Trae Young, never seemed to be bothered by the physical antics that the Knicks brought with them to get any competitive advantage over the Hawks. However, it might’ve been the opposite of what the Knicks wanted because it only seemed to make things worse.

In his first ever playoff series, Trae Young averaged 29.2 ppg and 9.8 apg and shot 44.1% from the floor vs. the Knicks. It’s safe to say he put on a show by making play after play for Atlanta.

For the entire series, New York fans were giving the Hawks all they could handle but they responded from a Game-2 loss in New York with three straight wins to close out the series in dominating fashion.

Strangely enough the Hawks played their worst game statistically in Game-5 and still came out with a 103-89 win. Showing evidence of Nate McMillan’s coaching impact bringing the Hawks, who are known to be a defensive nightmare, to leading the playoffs in scoring defense.

To McMillan credit he has turned the Hawks around from a very disappointing season to being just where they had hoped they would be at the start of the season.

What is probably the most exciting part of this team besides going 33-13 since McMillan became the interim Head Coach, is the fact this is not all Trae Young’s doing, everyone is contributing.

The Hawks bench of Huerter, Williams, and Gallonari are all valuable parts to this team’s success while Williams and Gallonari are a part of the few Hawks with playoff experience.

Also, the additions of Bogdan Bogdanovic and Clint Capela continue to look better and better as this team continues to make its playoff run.

After many years in Houston reaching the Western Conference Finals and being a role player, Capela is finding a home in Atlanta and resembling the Hawks legend Dkembe Mutumbo while doing it.

Capela is currently second in playoff blocks and third in playoff rebounding, continuously proving that he is a difference maker while on the floor.

As for Bogdanovic, he currently has the fifth highest plus/minus of anyone in the playoffs at +78 while giving Atlanta another dependable offensive talent. Bogdanovic’s impact goes further than numbers due to his defensive ability as he showed throughout the first round.

After clinching their spot in the eastern conference semifinals, the Hawks will try and continue to do damage to their opponents but this is no easy feat.

Through the three regular season meetings between these two clubs the Sixers won two of them and when you look at these teams on paper there might be a clear favorite.

However, over the last few months the Hawks have shown they’re nothing to mess with either while both the Hawks and the 76ers have posted a 31-12 record since March 1st.

Even with Philly potentially missing their MVP candidate in Joel Embiid I’m sure most people will write the Hawks off, but after what I just witnessed, I’d say the Hawks will give the 76ers fits.

Raising The Level

By: Buck Blanz

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

As a fan of the NBA, I often get caught in conversation about how NBA Coaches are much less valuable than the infamous coaches of college basketball.

However, unlike college, the NBA coaches also have to fit into the culture of a ballclub just as much as their players do because they are the messengers between players in the locker room and executives.

Therefore, anyone still doubting the significance of NBA coaches should take a look at what Nate McMillan has done in Atlanta since taking over for Lloyd Pierce earlier this season.

Since Nate McMillan took over as Interim head coach for Atlanta, the Hawks are 25-11 and currently sitting with the fifth seed in the Eastern conference; clinching their first playoff berth since the 2016-2017 season.

Usually when teams turn things around midway through the season it is because they were aggressive in trades before the deadline. However, Atlanta has largely had the same roster since the beginning of the season with the exception of trading Rajon Rondo for Sixth Man Lou Williams. Clearly, allowing the numbers show that McMillan has turned this Hawks organization around and it seems to have the future looking bright for the next few seasons.

McMillan is not new to this; he has been coaching in the NBA since 1998 when he was with the Seattle SuperSonics and later became the Head Coach of the organization in 2000.

Since then, McMillan has since been named Head Coach for the Portland Trailblazers as well as the Indiana Pacers before becoming the interim Head Coach for Atlanta following Pierce’s departure.

McMillan’s most recent stint prior to Atlanta was with the Indiana Pacers, where he spent the past four seasons and had agreed to a two-year extension before getting fired after getting swept by the Miami Heat in the opening round of the playoffs a season ago.

The decision to fire McMillan came after being swept in three of the four playoff appearances and never being able to get to the second round during his time in Indiana.

However, McMillan ended his tenure with the Pacers with a 183-186 overall record involving many devastating injuries, like their All-Star Victor Oladipo.

Before McMillan became Interim Head Coach, the Hawks never seemed to have an organized offense and were just out there to have fun, often resulting in losing late in games and/or losing to teams that they should beat.

Since McMillan was given the promotion, the Hawks have seemingly been much better being consistent in late game situations as well as winning the winnable games that are needed to reach the playoffs.

Also, McMillan has done an outstanding job being able to coach around significant injuries to players with a big role by finding dependable production of Atlanta’s bench.

Throughout McMillan’s coaching career and into this season with the Hawks he has shown that he is able to win with just about any five guys on the floor proves that he should be in the Coach of the year race this season.

I know he has only been with the organization for a few months but the turn around the Hawks have seen since being 14-20 has been astonishing.

Even if McMillan isn’t a part of the discussion the least the Hawks organization could do is to hire him as Head Coach for the next few seasons and keep heading down this path he has forged for the young Hawks squad.

Hawks Anchor

By: Buck Blanz

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

A year ago, the Atlanta Hawks were sitting in the 14th spot out of the 15 teams in the Eastern Conference, assuring themselves a lottery selection in the upcoming draft.

Even after making the sixth pick in last year’s draft, the trade the Hawks made prior to the trade deadline a season ago continues to prove to be a win for the future of the Hawks Franchise.

On February 5th, 2020, The Hawks acquired Clint Capela from the Houston Rockets in a four-team deal where Atlanta contributed a first round 2020 pick and second round pick in 2024 while also sending Evan Turner to Minnesota.

A full 14 months later this trade continues to look better and better for the Hawks with Capela’s consistent performances this season.

Capela has been an enormous part of the Hawks comeback season that began after the All-Star break, as well as after firing former head-coach Lloyd Pierce.

Those high-pressure decisions seemed to give the Hawks a much-needed breath of fresh air and are now finding themselves in the top half of the Eastern Conference.

With a little over a month left in the NBA season it isn’t crazy to think Clint Capela could be a serious Defensive Player of the Year candidate this season.

This season Clint Capela is averaging just over 15 PPG, as well as a career-best in rebounds (14.2 RPG) and Blocks (2.2 BPG).

When Atlanta decided to trade for Capela last February they only wished he would come with as much upside as he has.

Capela has been the defensive anchor in the middle of the paint and one of the best rim protectors throughout the entire NBA.

Playing Center in the NBA today is much more challenging for the centers of Clint Capela’s size and much more favorable for the undersized big men like Bam Adebayo and Draymond Green.

With the floor spread it makes centers, like Clint Capela, come out and guard on the perimeter, making them have to handle a high pick and roll action or maybe rotating out to the shooter open in the corner.

Throughout this season Clint Capela has been the difference-maker on the floor for the Hawks.

His ability to protect the rim allows the guards for Atlanta to guard the ball with intense pressure. Capela is currently leading the league in rebounds and third in blocks, hopefully his numbers begin to catch some eyes as Capela is posting numbers similar to the two-time DPOY in Rudy Gobert.

In January, Clint and the Hawks played against the Timberwolves and he was able to get a rare triple-double with 10-blocks in one game, the only issue is the Hawks defensive ability drastically decreases when he takes a seat.

In recent years, it has only been Trae Young’s offense that sold tickets to State Farm Arena, now the Hawks are beginning to look like a complete team again for the first time since 2017.

If Clint Capela is able to continue to post numbers like these, it won’t be long before Atlanta sees their first Defensive Player of the Year award winner since Dikembe Mutumbo went back-to-back in 96-97 and 97-98.

My only question is why aren’t people talking about this more?

On The Block

By: Buck Blanz

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

To begin the Month of March, the Atlanta Hawks were sitting at a 14-20 overall record. That record would’ve left them out of the playoffs for the fourth straight season if the season ended at the All-Star break.

Atlanta had one of the most aggressive free agencies of the offseason throughout the NBA, by signing guys like Dalino Gallanari and Bogdan Bogdanovic. However, the Hawks have not seen all that much improvement from a statistical standpoint.

Atlanta Hawks General Manager Travis Schlenk has made it clear to the fans that the organization is craving a playoff push throughout the second half of the season.

Beginning with the firing of former Head Coach Lloyd Pierce, who had a record of 63-120 during his tenure in Atlanta.

The Hawks have now appointed an established coach throughout the league in Nate McMillan, who led the injury riddled Pacers to playoff appearances each of the past two seasons without their star players.

Since the Hawks have named McMillan the interim Head Coach of the Basketball club, he has posted a 6-0 record giving Atlanta their longest win streak since the 2016-17 season as well as catapulting them into the seventh spot in the East.

With the trade deadline quickly approaching, (March 25th at 3:00 ET) look for Atlanta to continue to be aggressive with trades as they try to solidify a much-needed playoff appearance for the organization.

The biggest name that has been floating around the rumor mill from Atlanta is the fourth year forward, John Collins out of Wake Forest.

This upcoming offseason Collins will be a restricted free agent due to the fact Collins rejected the $90 million contract extension from the Hawks last offseason.

However, by not signing that extension with the Hawks, Collins has put himself in a great position for a much larger contract opportunity this upcoming offseason with his production of the floor this season.

NBA experts currently have Minnesota and Boston as the frontrunners to land Collins, but the Hawks are hungry for more talent in return that will help them win now.

As much as the Hawks executives would love to be able to flip John Collins’ contract into more young talent, the $4.1 million contract that Collins currently has doesn’t make a lot of options for the Hawks to add another established player to their roster.

Also, I think it’s safe to say that Atlanta would not match offers exceeding $100 million for Collins this offseason with the pool of talented bigs they already have.

Another name that could be added to the trading block for Atlanta would be the young shooting guard, Kevin Huerter. Huerter is a proven shooter, while also a defensive liability for the Hawks. In today’s NBA there are a number of guys who can fill that role.

The Hawks, who are currently 10th in the league in offensive efficiency and 22nd in defensive, would like to be inside the top 15 in both of those areas to put themselves in the best position moving forward.

However, Kris Dunn who has yet to see action this season as well as Deandre Hunter returning from injury by the beginning of April, Atlanta will regain their defensive anchors on that end of the floor.

Although there is no clear picture of how the hawks will attack the trade deadline, it is sure to be an entertaining week as they will explore each and every option possible.

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