It has been a whirlwind past 12 months for the Atlanta Hawks. After being tabbed as a possible low-seed playoff contender in the Eastern Conference last season, the Hawks surpassed expectations by appearing in the Eastern Conference finals, where they were eventually eliminated by the Milwaukee Bucks in a fierce six-game series.

Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk had plenty of work to do to not only keep the team's core players but also to retool the backend of the depth chart. After a hectic opening week of the 2021 NBA free agency period, it is safe to say that Schlenk responded to the task with major success.

Here are the notable grades for the Hawks' free agency moves, which included bringing back a pair of key players.

John Collins

Contract: 5-year, $125 million deal

Grade: A

It was only months ago that the Hawks were well open to trading away John Collins. The 23-year-old forward had garnered plenty of interest at last season's NBA trade deadline, including from the Minnesota Timberwolves. One report noted that the Hawks offered the Timberwolves the forward in exchange for Malik Beasley and a first-round pick, but Minnesota had no interest in accepting such an offer.

Now, the Hawks front office must be pleased that it did not trade away Collins. In essence, he wound up earning his five-year, $125 million max extension deal over the Hawks' recent playoff run. He posted formidable performances along the way, which included a 23-point showing in the Hawks' upset win over the Bucks in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals.

The Hawks are well banking on Collins to continue to show gradual improvements over the upcoming season, especially on the offensive end. Not only is the 6'9″ forward becoming more of a reliable shooter from beyond the arc, but he has emerged as an offensive threat in transition situations, which is noted by his 1.52 points per possession average in such plays last season.

With Collins, Trae Young, De'Andre Hunter, Cam Reddish, and Clint Capela all locked into deals for at least two more seasons, the Hawks' win-now window may be on the horizon now.

Lou Williams

Contract: One-year, $5 million deal

Grade: A

When the Hawks acquired Lou Williams at the trade deadline last season, it was difficult to forecast on just which version of him Atlanta would get. Williams looked like a shell of his former self over the first half of the season with the Los Angeles Clippers, which saw his minutes diminish by the month.

While Williams surely often frustrated the Hawks coaching staff with his streaky shooting, he met expectations during his opening half-season run in Atlanta. Most notably, he had one vintage performance in the Hawks' Game 4 win over the Bucks in the Eastern Conference finals, where he notched a keen 21-point game on 77.8 percent shooting.

Williams' days of being a scorer capable of averaging 20-plus points per game may be all over with. But for Atlanta to bring him back on a mere one-year, $5 million deal is a win-win move for both sides.

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Solomon Hill

Contract: One-year, veteran minimum

Grade: A-

The Hawks showed over their recent playoff run that depth can be the deciding factor between a team being a first-round exit or an Eastern Conference finalist.

Solomon Hill may not be the key role player he once was during his time with the New Orleans Pelicans, but for the veteran minimum, the Hawks made the right move to bring him back on a one-year deal to bolster their depth at the small forward position.

Sure, the Hawks could have used what is left from their non-taxpayer mid-level exception to acquire a more reliable score-first forward than Hill. Still, Hill's defensive output and his sheer veteran presence is just what Atlanta needs for the upcoming season.

Gorgui Dieng

Contract: One-year, $4 million

Grade: B

The Hawks' lone newcomer from their free agency class this year is Gorgui Dieng. The Hawks managed to acquire the center on a one-year, $4 million deal, where they used a portion of their non-taxpayer mid-level exception to take in his salary.

Dieng may be slated to back up Clint Capela at the center position, and over the opening half of the upcoming season, he could be provided with key minutes off the bench as Onyeka Okongwu will miss time due to a shoulder injury.

Atlanta will surely aspire to see Dieng become a key contributor as a rebounder. He is coming off of a season where he posted a 13.5 total rebound percentage, which is the lowest mark of his career.

The likes of JaVale McGee, Alex Len, Cody Zeller and Dewayne Dedmon were also available as bargain free agent centers last week, so it remains to be seen whether the Hawks made the right decision to sign Dieng out of the bunch.

Hawks free agency grade: A

Atlanta's front office came into free agency with a goal to prove that the team's playoff run last season was not a one-hit-wonder one. From re-signing Collins to bringing back a pair of key depth talents, Atlanta should once again be among the dark horse contenders in the Eastern Conference this upcoming season.