• Heading into the summer of 2018, the Atlanta Hawks were panned as being the league’s worst-constructed team both in the present and heading into the future. Outside of John Collins and Taurean Prince, there were no real discernible building blocks that would lead anyone to believe that the Hawks would come close to sniffing the playoffs for years to come. Drafting Trae Young in the fashion they did (shipping off Luka Doncic in favor of him) threw gasoline on the presumed dumpster fire the Hawks were becoming. While analysts around the league had faith in Travis Schlenk due to his success with the Warriors, it was undeniable that they viewed Atlanta’s rebuild as an arduous one that was off to the wrong start.

    One year later, the tune has changed. Trae Young was a huge success, and has the looks of being a franchise cornerstone. John Collins showed significant strides in his second year and clearly benefited as Young’s running mate. Kevin Huerter looked more polished than initially anticipated, and appears capable of becoming a dangerous sharpshooter. Add all of that and two top-10 lottery picks in the upcoming draft, and the Hawks suddenly look like one of the most promising rebuilding teams out there. What happens this offseason will be critical to their future success, and the acceleration of their rebuilding timeline.


    2018-2019 record: 29-53 | 12th in Eastern Conference

    Following the selection of three first round picks in the 2018 NBA Draft, Travis Schlenk’s priorities were twofold: add players that could help mentor and build up their young ones, and get rid of players who were unwilling to.

    The latter initiative really only applied to one player: Dennis Schroder. The fiery young PG had publicly stated that he didn’t want to be involved with a losing franchise, and with the selection of Trae Young, it became obvious that Schroder would need to be sent elsewhere. The Hawks, motivated to turn the page, completed a three-way trade that sent Schroder to OKC for Carmelo Anthony and Justin Anderson. Anthony was promptly waived, but Anderson remained on the team in part for his connection with coach Lloyd Pierce from their days in Philly together. The locker room presence of Anderson proved fruitful as a liaison between the new coach and his players.

    Elsewhere, the Hawks signed Vince Carter to a one-year deal, another move that showed the commitment to adding players who would be a positive addition to the team’s culture. They made one final signing shortly after to bring on Alex Len, a once-highly-touted lottery pick who failed to find a consistent role with the Phoenix Suns. Len’s signing was a low-risk, high-reward type of deal that proved to be a relative success. Len was able to play consistent minutes for the Hawks and expanded his game past the 3-point line, making the Hawks a team that featured 3-point threats across the roster.

    The start to the season went as many prognosticators had predicted. Atlanta limped out to a 6-23 start through the first two months of the season, seemingly unable to stay competitive in late-game situations or incapable of overcoming the inconsistencies of their young core. Their record following that point, however, painted a much different picture.

    Atlanta rattled off a consistent stretch of winning to finish out December, and wound up going 22-30 to finish the year from that two month marker. Their play during that time featured the emergence of Young as a legitimate perimeter threat, Huerter playing his way into a full-time starting position, and Collins playing consistent minutes following his return from injury. The young Hawks got more comfortable playing in Pierce’s system and became a thorny challenge for teams of all archetypes the more the season went along. They rewrote the script assigned to them at the beginning of the season, and now head into the offseason among the league’s up-and-comers.


    Lloyd Pierce’s first season at the helm should be regarded as an unbridled success for Atlanta due in large part to his ability to adapt his style of coaching to the roster pieces he had to work with. Pierce was brought in from Philadelphia after being credited with coaching their defense up to 4th overall in defensive efficiency. He was sold as a man with a high defensive acumen that would be used to create a solid foundation for the team to build upon.

    Once he got to training camp, however, Pierce threw that defensive playbook into a time-capsule to be buried and dug up at a future point in time. He wasn’t interested in turning Trae Young into the next Patrick Beverley. Rather, he wanted to play to strengths of his roster, and teach the young Hawks how to soar by utilizing their strengths of deep-range shooting, passing ability and athleticism.

    The Hawks showcased one of the league’s most entertaining offenses. Though they ranked 23rd in offensive rating at 107.5, they played at a blistering pace, ranking 1st overall in the league in that category. Pierce relied heavily on Young to orchestrate the offense, giving him free reign to handle the ball, set up cuts and lob opportunities for his athletic bigs, and of course, space the floor with his elite range. The roster as a whole melded around that skill set, leading the Hawks to finish in the top-5 in both 3-points attempted and offensive rebounds collected and within the top-10 in team assist percentage.

    On the other side of the ball, the Hawks were among the league’s worst teams defensively, ranking 28th in defensive rating at 113.0, giving them a net rating of -5.5 on the year. The Hawks ranked in the bottom-5 in defending PGs, SFs and PFs, often getting beat off screens and missing guys who trailed off into the corner for easy 3-point opportunities. This, as mentioned previously, was more or less expected from Pierce’s staff in the first season. As described by Justin Anderson, who played under Pierce in Philadelphia, Pierce would rather his young players become more confident in their strengths than to be bogged down by the intricacies of his defensive scheme.

    Like many rookie coaches who get their starts on tanking teams, Pierce was dealt a weak hand with an ownership mandate of not just wanting to be bad, but to be bad while showing glimpses of promise. The ridiculous line to tow in these scenarios doesn’t leave coaches with as much leash as one would hope, and on occasion can lead to them losing their jobs for not losing well enough (see Suns, Phoenix). This ended up not being the case for Pierce, who’s work with his young team ultimately landed him with glowing reviews from his front office. Pierce also caught the attention of some of the league’s elite coaches, as he was rewarded with a seat on the bench next Gregg Popovich and Steve Kerr as an assistant on Team USA. After one year he has gotten himself quite the long leash, and it will be interesting to see where he goes with it in his second season.

    The Players

    Trae Young

    ADP: 73/98 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 36/81 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 58/124 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 81

    2018-19 averages: 81 G | 30.9 MP | 19.1 PTS | 1.9 3PM | 3.7 REB | 8.1 AST | 0.9 STL | 0.2 BLK | 3.8 TOV | .418 FG% | .828 FT%

    At the time of the 2018 NBA Draft, pundits were firing off concerns they had with Trae Young’s future as an NBA player like they were him shooting 35-footers. The draft’s premier “boom-or-bust” pick, Young fluctuated across draft boards. At his lowest points some had him being taken after fellow rookie PGs Collin Sexton and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

    Then the Luka Doncic trade happened, and the criticism poured through. Trading off a sure thing like Doncic for a much riskier prospect in Young felt more “classic Atlanta” than blowing a 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl. The critiques were loud and clear and Young heard them all. Chip, meet shoulder.

    On the season, Young averaged 19.1 points per game on .418 shooting to go with 8.1 assists, 3.7 rebounds, 0.9 steals, 3.8 turnovers and 1.9 three-pointers en route to overall season value of top-60 in 8-cat and just outside the top-120 in 9-cat on per-game value. Young shed his ‘bust’ label fairly effectively with impressive scoring and even more impressive assist numbers, ranking second in total assists in the NBA. The holes in his game are still apparent in the form of low-percentage, high-volume shooting and high turnover numbers, but it’s clear that Young possesses a skill set that can set him aside from others in this league.

    That became abundantly clear following the All-Star break, where Young rose to be an elite fantasy asset with averages of 24.7 points per game (on .442 FG%), 9.2 assists, 4.7 boards, 0.9 steals, 3.4 turnovers and 2.4 3-pointers over 23 games. During that span, Young rocketed up to top-20/35 value in the league. It was a second half boom that reintroduced him to the favor of national talking heads, and propelled conversation of Young and Doncic in a two-man race for ROY honors.

    Leading the charge for one of the NBA’s fastest paced offenses with a year of experience under his belt, Trae Young could see himself coming off of draft boards in the 2nd/3rd rounds next year.

    John Collins

    ADP: 54/51 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 84/85 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 53/49 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 61

    2018-19 averages: 61 G | 30.0 MP | 19.5 PTS | 0.2 3PM | 9.8 REB | 2.0 AST | 0.4 STL | 0.6 BLK | 2.0 TOV | .560 FG% | .763 FT%

    Collins saw himself slip in fantasy drafts heading up to the start of the season when news swirled about a left ankle issue that wound up keeping him out of the lineup for the first 15 games of the season.

    Upon his return, he essentially matched his ADP in both 9 and 8-cat leagues on a per-game basis, finishing at top-50 value on the season with averages of 19.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 0.6 blocks on .560 shooting from the field. It was ultimately a very successful sophomore campaign for Collins, especially offensively where he increased his scoring average by a full nine points per game while maintaining a similar 3-point percentage from last year despite taking two more per game this season.

    There were some downsides to his game defensively, however. Collins surprisingly underperformed at accumulating defensive stats on the year, going from 1.1 blocks to just 0.6 and 0.6 steals to 0.4.

    While this could be attributed to Pierce’s offense-first approach on the year, there is some evidence that could suggest conditioning played a role. From the beginning of March to the end of the season, Collins managed to increase his blocks per game to 1.4, looking more spry and aware on defense than he had to start the year. It’s safer to assume that he’ll be closer to that number next season than he will be to his paltry 0.6 season average, making him an interesting play in the mid-rounds of fantasy drafts.

    Taurean Prince

    ADP: 133/62 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 163/176 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 114/129 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 55

    2018-19 averages: 55 G | 28.2 MP | 13.5 PTS | 2.2 3PM | 3.6 REB | 2.1 AST | 1.0 STL | 0.3 BLK | 1.8 TOV | .441 FG% | .819 FT%

    Taurean Prince was highly touted heading into the season after he finished in the top-50 last year but unfortunately was marred with inconsistency and injury in what amounted to a relatively disappointing year. In total, Prince missed 30 games which included a near month-and-a-half absence due to a left ankle injury.

    Prince finished the year with averages of 13.3 points, 3.6 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.0 steal and 2.2 three-pointers per game, giving him top-120/130 (8-cat/9-cat) per game value but only top-180 in total value due to all of the missed games.

    One issue Prince faced was the significant change in usage that came with Trae Young’s reign over the offense. Before Young arrived, Prince was a primary ball handler and scorer with fewer options around him. This year, with the ball out of his hands more often, Prince was forced to compete for touches with the likes of Kent Bazemore, Kevin Huerter and a now-healthy DeAndre’ Bembry.

    The 25-year-old forward will likely head into next season with dampened expectations, but will likely retain his starting role in one of the league’s most fantasy-friendly offenses. He could be a bounce-back candidate for next year.

    Kevin Huerter

    ADP: NA / NA (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 138/145 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 169/181 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 75

    2018-19 averages: 75 G | 27.3 MP | 9.7 PTS | 1.8 3PM | 3.3 REB | 2.9 AST | 0.9 STL | 0.3 BLK | 1.5 TOV | .419 FG% | .732 FT%

    Kevin Huerter, despite being a middle-tier first-round pick, didn’t get a lot of fantasy buzz on a Hawks team that featured a decent collection of wing players. However, the first-year guard out of Maryland ended up getting quite a lot of burn in his rookie season. He assumed a starting role in early December and wound up playing more total minutes than all but seven rookies. In that time frame he averaged 11.1 points (.420 shooting from the floor), 3.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.0 steals, and 2.0 3-pointers a game.

    As a fantasy asset, he was never able to emerge as much more than a 3-point specialist, limiting him to just being a top-150/160 (8-cat/9-cat) over his span as a starter. That being said, he should only get better, and showed flashes of being both a capable passer and defender. Assuming the Hawks don’t make any additions that could force him out of the starting lineup, Huerter could be a guy owners take a flier on at the end of drafts next season.

    Dewayne Dedmon

    ADP: NA /107 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 86/75 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 62/48 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 64

    2018-19 averages: 64 G | 25.1 MP | 10.8 PTS | 1.3 3PM | 7.5 REB | 1.4 AST | 1.1 STL | 1.1 BLK | 1.3 TOV | .492 FG% | .814 FT%

    Dewayne Dedmon was a 9-cat stud on the year, finishing with well-rounded averages of 10.8 points per game, 7.5 rebounds, 1.1 steals, 1.1 blocks and 1.3 3-pointers, which was enough to give him top-50 value on the season. Dedmon has proven over the years that he possess a very fantasy-friendly stat set and this season was no different. On the year, Dedmon ranked 4th overall among eligible centers (played at least 70% of games) in steals, blocks and 3PM per 36 minutes. The three ahead of him were Mitchell Robinson, Brook Lopez, and Myles Turner.

    The versatile big man will have a lot of suitors on the open market heading into free agency, and is at risk of landing in a spot that doesn’t give him the amount of run that he has had in Atlanta over the last two seasons. His fantasy-friendly stat set will likely keep him a viable option wherever he winds up, but obviously he stands to lose a great deal of value if he winds up in a spot that gives him anything less than the starting role he had on the Hawks.

    Kent Bazemore

    ADP: 139/132 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 140/157 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 144/162 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 67

    2018-19 averages: 67 G | 24.5 MP | 11.6 PTS | 1.4 3PM | 3.9 REB | 2.3 AST | 1.3 STL | 0.6 BLK | 1.8 TOV | .402 FG% | .726 FT%

    Kent Bazemore was a Hoop Ball favorite heading into the season. He figured to be a fixture in a lineup that featured several unestablished players, flexing a very fantasy-friendly game that would be of great benefit to his owners. Though he began the season as a starter, posting top-65 value during that time, he was derailed by a right ankle injury that both cost him his starting position and kicked off a bout of inconsistency from which he was unable to recover.

    From his return on January 30 through the end of the season, Bazemore was only a top-260/290 player in 8/9-cat leagues. He played only 21.5 minutes per game and completely lost his shot, shooting an abysmal .354 from the field, .667 from the line and .320 from 3-point range over that span.

    Bazemore’s future with the team now comes into focus. His bloated contract that he received from the infamous 2016 offseason will enter its final year, potentially turning Baze into one of the league’s most interesting trade assets. Though it was discouraging to see how he ended his latest campaign, Bazemore is still a serviceable 3-and-D wing that could clear a ton of cap space for a contender looking to rent him for one season. It may take the offseason dust to settle before a clear recipient reveals themselves, but don’t be surprised if Bazemore is sporting different colors at some point next year.

    DeAndre’ Bembry

    ADP: NA /NA (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 119/136 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 170/199 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 82

    2018-19 averages: 82 G | 23.5 MP | 8.4 PTS | 0.6 3PM | 4.4 REB | 2.5 AST | 1.3 STL | 0.5 BLK | 1.7 TOV | .446 FG% | .640 FT%

    DeAndre’ Bembry, by all accounts, had his best season to date. He was finally was able to play through an entire season healthy and established himself as a defensive specialist capable of providing a smattering of counting stats when given enough playing time. Bembry spent a lot of time handling the ball, particularly after Jeremy Lin was bought out. His high energy and high-usage opportunities off the bench allowed him to contribute more as a passer, but at the same time, made him a risk for high turnover rates.

    On the year he finished a top-170/200 value (8-cat/9-cat) and figures to fall around that same area next season if he plays his same bench role. Bembry fits the mold of a sparkplug-type player who may find his way onto your bench for a week or two but is too inconsistent for owners to expect much more.

    Alex Len

    ADP: NA / 141 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 154/162 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 202/207 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 77

    2018-19 averages: 77 G | 20.1 MP | 11.1 PTS | 1.0 3PM | 5.5 REB | 1.1 AST | 0.4 STL | 0.9 BLK | 1.3 TOV | .494 FG% | .648 FT%

    After a stint with Phoenix that had many question his long-term viability in the pace-and-space NBA, Alex Len worked hard to reinvent himself in his first season in Atlanta. He posted a career high 11.1 points per game (due in part to an added 3-point shot — 1.0 per game on .363 shooting), 5.5 rebounds and 0.9 blocks. His percentages from the field (.494) were relatively weak for a center, which helps explain him falling outside the top-200 in both 9-cat and 8-cat leagues. It is, however, undeniable that Len came out the end of this season as a much improved player.

    That improvement is worth keeping in mind in the event that Dedmon leaves Atlanta in the offseason. If that does happen, Len could find himself contending for a starting role next season and if so, he could be worth a late-round pick in drafts next year.

    Vince Carter

    ADP: 140 / NA (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 200/185 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 258/241 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 76

    2018-19 averages: 76 G | 17.5 MP | 7.4 PTS | 1.6 3PM | 2.6 REB | 1.1 AST | 0.6 STL | 0.4 BLK | 0.6 TOV | .419 FG% | .712 FT%

    The league’s oldest player was able to see the floor in a whopping 76 games this year while playing a decent 17.5 minutes per game, leaving many to suspect that he has enough left in the tank to return for a 22nd season. Carter himself as publicly indicated that he plans to pursue another year of playing if given enough playing time. If the Hawks have the space in their lineup to offer him a similar role next year they could become a viable suitor for VC to return, as it was clear that his veteran leadership was valuable both on and off the court for their young players.

    In terms of fantasy value, Carter predictably did not have much to offer outside of decent 3-point production. At a 38.9 percent clip he could produce in that area again next season if given the proper minutes, but even then, there are likely better players to pursue if one would want to stream for that category.

    Omari Spellman

    ADP: NA / NA (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 297/291 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 269/252 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 46

    2018-19 averages: 46 G | 17.5 MP | 5.9 PTS | 1.0 3PM | 4.2 REB | 1.0 AST | 0.6 STL | 0.5 BLK | 0.7 TOV | .402 FG% | .711 FT%

    Omari Spellman, the third of the Hawks’ three first-round picks, did not see the success his other two rookie teammates did in his debut season. Spellman, by his own admission, came into the year out of shape which made his adjustment to the NBA all the more difficult, especially considering the pace the Hawks were playing at. He suffered a left ankle injury in early March which wound up sidelining him for the remainder of the season.

    There were stretches throughout the season where Spellman flashed some potential. A noteworthy stretch in January saw him garner more playing time due to a smattering of frontcourt injuries. On the month as a whole, he shot 45.4 percent from 3-point range, showcasing exactly what the Hawks drafted him for: his ability to stretch the floor from the PF/C slot. That stands to be Omari’s niche as an NBA player if he is able to stay on the floor consistently.

    He will get more opportunities as part of Atlanta’s young core, and if he can stay in shape for an entire season, he has a lot to gain as a sharpshooter in a fast-paced offense. His conditioning will be worth keeping an eye on once Summer League roles around,

    Justin Anderson

    ADP: NA / NA  (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 351/349 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 401/401 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 48

    2018-19 averages: 48 G | 9.6 MP | 3.7 PTS | 0.5 3PM | 1.8 REB | 0.5 AST | 0.5 STL | 0.3 BLK | 0.5 TOV | .408 FG% | .743 FT%

    Justin Anderson’s first season in Atlanta was underwhelming for the segment of fantasy owners who believed that he could carve out a large enough role there to produce. Anderson has shown flashes of defensive ability in stints in Dallas and Philadelphia in the past. With him joining a team that had no goals of competing, and with a coaching staff that he was already familiar with from his days in Philly, there was a plausible path for him to produce at least some low-end fantasy value.

    Unfortunately, that never really materialized for Anderson, who barely played half of his games due in part to an offseason surgery that sidelined him until mid-November. Anderson averaged only 9.6 minutes, landing him outside the top-350 in fantasy leagues. It wasn’t the most ideal landing spot for him, but it was good enough of one to expect that he’d get more opportunity than he ended up receiving in Atlanta. He still managed to show flashes of a fantasy skill set in some spot-starts he received in the last few games of the year, but clearly this season doesn’t bode well for Anderson’s future fantasy prospects.

    Jaylen Adams

    ADP: NA / NA  (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 378/388 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 395/411 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 34

    2018-19 averages: 34 G | 12.6 MP | 3.2 PTS | 0.7 3PM | 1.8 REB | 1.9 AST | 0.4 STL | 0.1 BLK | 0.8 TOV | .345 FG% | .778 FT%

    Jaylen Adams was the team’s third-string PG for the first half of this past season, but ended up getting legitimate playing time as a backup following Jeremy Lin’s buyout. In that time, Adams played 15.9 minutes per game, and landed well outside the top-300 in fantasy leagues.

    Though he was technically the only other PG on the roster after Trae Young, Adams was, at most times, the third or fourth primary ball handler on the team, losing opportunities to wing players like DeAndre’ Bembry and Kent Bazemore. He heads into next year with a team option to return, but it seems more than likely that the Hawks will turn to free agency or the draft to find another player to at least compete with him for backup PG minutes.

    Miles Plumlee

    ADP: NA / NA  (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 154/162 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 202/207 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 18

    2018-19 averages: 18 G | 9.6 MP | 4.4 PTS | 0.0 3PM | 2.2 REB | 0.9 AST | 0.4 STL | 0.2 BLK | 0.6 TOV | .667 FG% | .533 FT%

    Miles Plumlee is the last piece of the scraps the Hawks acquired in their dumping of Dwight Howard two seasons ago, and unfortunately that is the majority of what can be said about him during his stint in Atlanta. He had been held out of the lineup with left knee soreness since December, for which he had season-ending surgery to repair in late March.

    He heads into next season on a one-year $12 million deal, which could make him a potential salary dump option for a team looking to clear space for the 2020 offseason. Beyond that, there is little reason to expect that he will have much of an impact, both real and in fantasy, heading into next year.

    Doctor’s Orders

    With a successful campaign in the books, the Hawks’ third season of their rebuild will once again focus squarely on the NBA draft. Atlanta is the only team in the lottery with multiple top-10 picks (8 & 10). Schlenk has gone on the record multiple times to stress that his draft approach is to prioritize taking the most talented players over any sort of positional need, but with two picks in near-succession of one another the Hawks could potentially employ both strategies.

    It is also worth considering that Atlanta could once again make a draft-day trade as they hold three other picks in the second round (35, 41 and 42). Even with the youth movement largely dominating their roster construction, it is hard to imagine the Hawks adding five rookies to their squad. Popular theories will likely converge on them packaging both of their first-round picks or one and a player to move up, but it could be just as likely that they hold onto both and instead move their second round-picks around similar to last year’s draft.

    In terms of their roster construction, there are a few holes that should be addressed either through the draft or by acquiring free agents. Five of the nine Hawks under contract for next season play on the wing. This leaves a fairly sizable need at two particular positions: point guard and center. 

    As it stands, Trae Young is the only true point guard on the roster and though Jaylen Adams was serviceable at times, it doesn’t appear that he is the long-term backup. Veteran point guards such as T.J McConnell, or even the aforementioned Patrick Beverley, will be available and could complement Trae well as a change-of-pace playmaker off the bench.

    At center, the Hawks’ biggest decision they will have to make with one of their own free agents is whether or not they should bring back Dewayne Dedmon. Dedmon has shown a lot of growth in Atlanta’s system in his brief tenure, but he could demand more money than the Hawks will be willing to pay a 30-year-old center at this juncture of their rebuild. A center prospect such as Jaxson Hayes or Bol Bol could be available when the Hawks make a selection at eight or ten, and either one could fit into what the Hawks are building with the rest of their young guys.

    Beyond the players that they could add to the mix, the one thing the Hawks need to continue to work on heading into the offseason is maintaining and building upon the winning culture they have established. Yes, that sounds like the most cliche, cop-out sort of analysis one could come up with in evaluating how a team can “win more.” But to be honest, if there was one thing that set the Hawks aside from the other lottery-bound teams this season it was that they played with a sense of pride and competitive spirit that at times almost made you forget that they were a team trying to lose.

    They made playoff-caliber teams sweat it out, they fought hard to come back from late-game deficits, and they actually looked as if they improved as the season went on. Young’s second-half surge would not nearly have been as impactful had it been bogged down by messy rotations that were flagrantly apparent as intentional tanking tactics. There is something to the notion that players who play to win early on in their careers will be better at it when the time comes for them to contend.

    The Hawks’ young guys need to approach this offseason as if they were set to play a back-to-back the next day. Keep up with conditioning, work on mechanics at the gym, keep up with teammates in the group chat — whatever is necessary to keep their minds fresh and their spirits high. This team is primed to be a fast riser in the Eastern Conference, and to invoke their ultra-cheesy catch phrase to project their future: Tomorrow Starts Today.

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