Finally, the Atlanta Hawks are on a downward slope even with an emerging superstar at the helm in Trae Young.
In 2021, the Hawks surged through the NBA playoffs and reached the conference finals. Suddenly, a young squad in Atlanta seemed to be destined for constant deep postseason runs. Since 2021, though, they have lost in the first round in two consecutive seasons.
Whether teams expose Trae Young’s nonexistent defensive effort or simply battle through any attempt the Hawks make, they seem to be missing the right piece to bring them back into contention within the East. Last summer, the Hawks traded a hefty haul of first-round picks and players for San Antonio’s Dejounte Murray to pair a defensive-minded borderline All-Star in the backcourt with Young. Unfortunately, they had the same result as the year prior.
Over the last few years, the Hawks consistently inquired about John Collins trades, as the young forward drew interest from nearly every team in the Association. The Hawks wanted to receive the best possible haul for a talented forward in Collins as any team would, but their patience led to dismay as he was traded to the Utah Jazz for 37-year-old Rudy Gay (who was later traded to OKC and then waived) and a future second-round pick.
The Hawks did bring in Patty Mills, but the overall turbulence in Atlanta’s development this offseason is not suggestive of a resurgence in Georgia basketball.
Ultimately, the 2023 offseason has shaken the power balances of the Eastern Conference, opening a pathway to an exciting, dramatic regular season. From perennial contenders to hopeful contenders, these three teams will likely look worse from last season.