The Atlanta Hawks have lost their title as the belle of the ball just as soon as they earned it. They followed up their Eastern Conference Finals appearance with a mediocre season. They're not even firmly in the playoff picture at the moment.
The Hawks have a fantastic offense and terrible defense, which has led them to a 30-32 record with 20 regular-season contests remaining. A deep playoff run seems much less likely this time around.
That doesn't mean the Hawks are sunk, though. They have the talent to compete and could be a tough out for playoff teams if they are able to clinch a berth.
Click here for our Risk Free $1000 Bet!
*To claim, new users need to register, make a first deposit, and then simply place their first real-money wager on FanDuel Sportsbook up to $1000! If a user loses their first wager, we’ll refund their losses in the form of a free bet up to $1000!*
3 bold Hawks predictions
1. Trae Young wins his first scoring title
The Hawks will need every little bit of Young's production in order to secure a playoff spot. To make sure they have the best shot, Young may have to take an oversized portion of Atlanta's shots.
Right now, Young tied for fourth place in points per game with DeMar DeRozan. They are behind Joel Embiid, Giannis Antetokounmpo and LeBron James on the leaderboard. Because almost all of these players have All-Star teammates, their workload may not be as high as Young's down the stretch of the season.
James is the only player who doesn't have a consistent star to lean on since Anthony Davis is injured. Embiid has James Harden to help with the scoring load and second-year point guard Tyrese Maxey emerging as a legitimate third option. Antetokounmpo has Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday by his sides while DeRozan has Zach LaVine.
Although having stars doesn't necessarily mean that a superstar's scoring will decrease, Young will seemingly have the green light more often than them. He is tasked with a greater workload than the rest of the leading scorers besides James. Young should easily be able to contend for the scoring title.
2. Bogdan Bogdanovic becomes a starter
The decision to bring Bogdanovic off the bench is solely for lineup flexibility. The 29-year-old sharpshooter has been the Hawks' second-leading scorer in many of their recent contests and has played over 30 minutes consistently. Although he can continue to be a huge part of the team off the bench, he has earned the right to start.
Since the calendar turned over to February, Bogdanovic is averaging 17.9 points per game, the second-most on the team. John Collins is right behind him but only played in five games compared to his 12 games due to a foot injury that he is still dealing with.
At some point, the Hawks will have to admit that having their two best players start together is necessary. Leaning on Bogdanovic while he is cooking is the best choice that head coach Nate McMillan can make for his team. He has kept it real about how bad Atlanta has been several times this season. McMillan should let him play a bigger role in righting the ship.
3. The Hawks make the playoffs
Right now, Atlanta is sitting in the 10th seed in the Eastern Conference. They're six games back from securing a playoff spot without needing the play-in tournament. Barring a crazy winning streak, they will have to play their way into the playoffs.
Right now, the Toronto Raptors, Brooklyn Nets and Charlotte Hornets are their neighbors in the play-in standings. The Nets, at full strength, are a cut above the rest. With Kevin Durant getting back into the swing of things, they will clearly stand out. The Hornets are very similar to the Hawks but are worse offensively and better defensively. The Raptors are very deep and talented on both ends but might be in trouble if Atlanta's offense fires on all cylinders.
The Hawks' incredible offensive firepower should allow them to compete in a do-or-die game. All it takes is a few shooters getting hot alongside Young for them to snag a win. Atlanta shoots better from 3-point land at home than any other team in the league.