It seems to me that the Hawks didn’t make a big maneuver in Thursday’s draft—they made a slight position tweak in the second round—as evidence that they might not be as cramped as they seemed. Rebuilds are never smooth. It wasn’t until the fourth season of Stephen Curry’s NBA that the Warriors made the playoffs. They won a round. They fought the playoffs again the following season but lost in the first round, leading them to dismiss Mark Jackson as coach and appoint Steve Kerr.
The Warriors who won the 2015 NBA titles weren’t much different from the 2014 group that lost in the first round to the Clippers. They boosted Carrie with recruits Clay Thompson, Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green. They landed veterans Andrew Bogut and Andre Iguodala. In 2013-14, this core won 51 games. The following season, the same crew won 67 matches and championships. No other NBA Finals will be played without Golden State until 2020.
Back to the hawks: Do I think they can handle a tweak or two? surely. Each team can. Do I think bulk retooling is required? no. John Collins has played just 54 games, DeAndre Hunter in 53, and Onyeka Okongo in 48. Timothy Loew Caparrot, 26 for his fifth club in the NBA, has started 18 games. Only four Hawks – Young, Clint Capella, Kevin Hotter and Dillon Wright – have made more than 66 appearances.
Of the Great Hawksbill, none have gone through a terrible season. Collins’ numbers were off, but that definitely has more to do with injuries than any loss of talent. He’s been a good player since he got here, and he’s not yet 25. Capella did not lead the NBA in rebounding for the second season in a row, but he finished fourth. Hunter may be a little disappointed, but he averaged 21.2 points against Miami in the playoffs.
This does not mean that the hawks stand idly by. They need to get better. However, I will be aware of the risk/reward. In the spring and summer of 2021, they became a good team. The only significant change made since then was getting rid of Cam Reddish, which I never understood. AJ Griffin, their first-round pick, could step into the spin. They could use a better replacement for Young – Wright as a free agent – but would have to go some to improve Collins/Capella in tandem.
To these usually critical eyes, these hawks look like a glass half full. If there is a reasonable deal to be made, they have to make it. If not, they must err on the side of caution. If left to its internal machines, this club could make a serious run in 2023. I’d hate to see a lovingly assembled core dismantled so soon.