New Orleans Pelicans fans must be going through deja vu. After the 2019 drama with Anthony Davis, it seems like the Pelicans have another similar situation with their star Zion Williamson. He is yet to suit up this season and has been called out by former teammate JJ Redick for not reaching out to CJ McCollum when he joined the team.
Zion has since reached out, but the storm is brewing for the Pelicans, and that might culminate with a trade of the star forward. If push comes to shove and he is available, one of the teams that should be lining up is the Atlanta Hawks. Here are two key reasons why.
Hawks Zion Williamson Trade Breakdown
Stability needed quick
The Hawks surprised the world last season by making a deep run to the Eastern Conference Finals. They even took two games from the eventual champion Milwaukee Bucks. Even though the Hawks retained practically everyone, they are having a completely different campaign. They are 30-31 and sitting in the 10th spot in the Eastern Conference. Although no one saw them being one of the NBA’s elite squads, many expected the Hawks to be a stable playoff team for the foreseeable future. Right now, that is not true, but if they get their hands on Zion, things could change.
The simple fact of the matter is that the Hawks, assembled as such, cannot cope with the quality of other teams. The Hawks really have one star and a few good players. All-Star guard Trae Young is truly franchise-altering, but he cannot do anything on his own. There were some attempts, most notably the trades for Clint Capela and Danilo Gallinari in the past few years, but these are nowhere near the sort of moves that other Eastern Conference teams made.
The Bucks brought in some serious pieces to place around two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Brooklyn Nets added Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in 2019, and while their experiment with James Harden did not go well, they still have an amazing team. The Miami Heat added Kyle Lowry to a squad already filled with talent. Lastly, the Philadelphia 76ers added Harden to Joel Embiid and branded themselves as prime title contenders.
It is easy to look at the 2021 NBA Playoffs and say that the Hawks need to do better than their 30-31 record suggests. However, the harsh reality is that they were overachievers with too much pressure to be as good this season. Still, if they were to get their hands on a player like Zion Williamson, they are suddenly up there with all the mentioned teams. The Hawks need a second star and since free agency is likely not an option due to massive contracts for some of their players, swinging a trade for Zion is the only way they will get better instantly.
One-two punch with Trae Young
Even just thinking about the pairing of Young and Zion should make NBA fans very excited. These two players are both young and they have skillsets that should match perfectly. With Zion just turning 22 years old this July and Young only being two years older, their prime years should be perfectly aligned.
The options for the Young-Williamson two-man game should be endless. Young could punish any defensive coverage that does not include double-teaming him as the ballhandler. However, even in these cases, he is a gifted enough passer to find a way to get the ball to Zion on the roll. Once he has the ball at the top of the key, there are so many ways that he can obliterate the defense. He is a true triple-threat in this scenario, being able to drive, hit midrange shots, and find the key pass. If the Hawks surround them with shooters in the mold of Bogdan Bogdanovic and Kevin Huerter, the tandem of Young and Williamson would be even more devastating.
One more thing to consider for the Hawks in this situation is how the duo can free up space for one another. If the defense collapses on Zion, who is primarily an inside scorer, that should mean a ton of opportunities for the perimeter players of the Hawks, including Young. On the flip side, if they look to close out the perimeter, there will be a lot of space in the middle and it is incredibly tough to stop Zion with single-man coverage.
Thus, it should be a no-brainer for the Hawks, if Zion Williamson is made available, to seek out a trade for him. Obviously, it will cost them something. The trade would likely be centered around John Collins, DeAndre Hunter, possibly even the aforementioned Bogdanovic, and Huerter. However, the cost does not outweigh the value of what they will be adding to the team. They already have Trae Young locked up for the foreseeable future, so bringing him a mate in the former Duke standout that he can dominate with would provide a better foundation for the future to be built upon.