The Curious Case Of The Atlantic Hawks

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Two years ago the Atlanta Hawks were the up and coming team in the NBA. The Hawks lost to the future champions, Milwaukee Bucks, in the conference finals and their future looked bright. Something happened to them since then and it isn’t working out as thought.

In trying to understand what may have happened the first thing you look at is personnel changes. This season Bogdan Bogdanovich has been injured and has yet to appear in a game. Bogdanovich is a good offensive player and his points per 100 shots was over 112 last year. His offensive game also complemented Young well. The Hawks also dealt Kevin Huerter to Sacramento in the off season. Huerter is a good offensive player that is off to a good start for the Kings.

The Hawks then made a trade, bringing in Dejounte Murray from the Spurs for Danilo Gallinari and draft picks. Murray, an All-Star last year, was considered a major acquisition. Combined with Trae Young it was thought would give the Hawks one of the best backcourts in the league.

With the trade of Huerter and Bogdanovich being injured playing time opened up for De’Andre Hunter. Hunter considered a good three and d player signed the rookie extension contract for four years at ninety million dollars in the off season. Most people around the league predicted he would be a breakout player this year. He hasn’t played as well as hoped or predicted but despite not  playing up to expectations he is not a major reason for the Hawks downfall.

A Concerning Trend

When you look at Trae Young’s points per 100 shots over the last three years you see a trend. In the 20-21 season Young averaged 117.6 points, 21-22 averaged 121.1. This year he has regressed to 108.5. Hunter’s this year is just over 107. Anything below 110 is average at best. For example Tyrese Haliburton is at 121.3 and Donovan Mitchell 129 thus far this season.

Dejounte Murray’s numbers are at 105.6 thus far this year. Murray’s numbers have never been high but combined with Young the Hawks aren’t getting the production they hoped they would get when they made the trade. When you look at the usage (shooting, assists and turnovers per one hundred possession) you see that the duo combine for over 66% of the Hawks overall usage.

The numbers lead you to think Murray is not a good fit to play with Young though the season is only 20 games in. Two years ago the Hawks played well when Young had the ball the majority of the team and was surrounded by good shooters. Losing Bogdanovich and trading Huerter, two good shooters, has hurt the offense. The ultimate question to ask yourself is this. Does Trae Young have a problem playing with other ball dominant players and only have success with complementary players? If that is true the Hawks with Trae Young may have a problem breaking into the upper echelon of NBA teams.

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