The Atlanta Hawks are fighting for a spot on the verge of the playoff picture. After firing Lloyd Pierce and hiring Nate McMillan midway through last season, they turned a corner and shot up all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals. With the same band of players from last year, the music isn't nearly as sweet.

Several key Hawks players must prove their worth to the organization and show that they are worth keeping around. One player has some extra pressure to perform well down the stretch of this season: Bogdan Bogdanovic.

The 1 Hawks player with most to prove after 2022 All-Star break

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In 40 games this season, the 29-year-old Bogdanovic is averaging 13.3 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.0 assists. He is shooting 43.3 percent from the field and 37.3 percent from deep. His production is solid but is a noticeable step down from last year. Last season, he scored 16.4 points per game with a field-goal percentage of 47.5 and a 3-point percentage of 43.8, which ranked 11th in the league.

The drop in production is sharp but isn't terrible. Bogdanovic is still a key piece off the bench and his 3-point percentage last season is a big outlier for his career stats. But as one of Atlanta's highest-paid players, not being one of their very best is disappointing. Boosting his percentages back up would greatly increase his value and would make him a likely candidate to stick around for the future.

One reason that Bogdanovic has something to prove has more to do with the front office than it does him. Ahead of the trade deadline, the Hawks could have landed Derrick White in a trade with the San Antonio Spurs. The stellar defender would have been a great fit alongside Trae Young to balance out his decencies as a defender. The Spurs were ready to say yes on a deal that would have netted them Bogdanovic and a first-round pick.

This would have been a great deal for the Hawks. White is younger than Bogdanovic, under contract for longer and provides a skill set that no other player on the team has. Bogdanovic's 3-point shooting is important but Atlanta has other players who shoot well, too. However, the Hawks turned down the offer, allowing the Boston Celtics to swoop in and trade for White.

White would not have single-handedly transformed the Hawks' defense but he would have been a great start. Kevin Hurter brings a skill set that is similar to Bogdanovic. John Collins, De'Andre Hunter and Danilo Gallinari provide shooting around Young, who is a great shooter himself. White isn't a 3-point marksman but can contribute on offense in other ways.

The Hawks' front office bet that Bogdanovic's skills and the draft pick were worth more than White despite their immense defensive struggles. This could easily prove to be a big mistake. Although Bogdanovic isn't to blame for this, his level of play down the stretch will be key to monitor. Bogdanovic's skills are nearly redundant considering the Hawks other' talented scorers. Yet, management chose to keep this roster that is doubled down on offense instead of landing a huge defensive upgrade.

Bogdanovic, to his credit, knows that the Hawks have a lot of areas to improve in. Through no real fault of his own, he may become one of the poster children for the team's disappointing season.