At the suspension of the current NBA season, the hawks had a 20-47 record, which puts them at 27th in the league and 14th in the eastern conference. The Hawks were faced with some challenges early in the season, most notably John Collin’s 25 game suspension and the tension between young star, Trae Young, and the front office, but showed some improvements in the second half of the season which has them further along in the rebuild than some might have expected. The Hawks look to capitalise this offseason and improve their supporting cast while developing their young stars in the hopes of a playoff berth in the 2020-2021 season.
Currently, the Hawks are entering next season with 9 players on the payroll. If they also sign the 4th overall pick in the draft, it will leave them with $48.4 million in cap space, subject to changes due to the effects of the pandemic and if they just in the draft lottery. Their restricted free agents going into 2020 free agency are De’Andre Bembry, Skal Labissiere, and Damian Jones. Bembry is expected to be retained to provide depth at the shooting guard position.
The hawks are currently entering 2020 free agency with the most cap space of any team in the NBA at about $48.4 million. While the Hawks can use all of this cap space on signing a max player, it may be of more use to them to sign some mid-level contracts to fill out their depth and take some salary into the much anticipated 2021 free agency class.
The Hawks already have 3 centers under contract for next season and their starting point guard and power forward set for the future, they should look to address their lack of quality depth on the wings as well as a backup point guard. The Hawks will most likely look to resign unrestricted free agent Jeff Teague to be their backup point guard on a cheaper, long term deal after trading for him earlier this season. When looking to sign wings, they will want to look for experienced players who can help develop their young wings while also contributing to winning but without taking minutes away from Reddish, Hunter and Huerter. Jordan Clarkson has contributed quality minutes off the bench of a playoff team and the Hawks should look to sign him to become their sixth man form the shooting guard position. If they are unable to sign Clarkson, Atlanta could look to sign Joe Harris or Evan Fournier to provide some much-needed scoring off the bench. Atlanta could also look to add a defensive wing such as Maurice Harkless to bring some much-needed defensive energy off the bench.
The Hawks have the 4th projected pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. The Hawks will look to draft with this pick to maintain cap space and to add to their young core led by Trae Young and John Collins. There is no stand-out top pick in this draft class with only a few solid players at the top of the group so the front office should look to draft based on team needs. Atlanta should look to draft a forward that can come off the bench at the 4 position and rotate at the small forward position. I believe the harks should look to take Obi Toppin with the 4th projected pick, a 6’9” PF out of Dayton. Toppin is a strong scorer averaging 20 points per game at college and can be an anchor on the defensive end averaging a block and a steal a game. If Toppin is unavailable, the Hawks may look at drafting Deni Avdija, a 6’9” SF out of Maccabi Tel Aviv who is still quite young and shows potential on both ends of the floor.
The current head coach of the Hawks, Lloyd Pierce, is entering his final year of his three-year contract. Since joining the Hawks in 2018, Pierce has a 49-100 record which is acceptable for a team which is just beginning a rebuild. While this has been an acceptable record thus far, Pierce will have heightened expectations with additions to the team’s depth and defensive talent, as well as Trae Young quickly becoming one of the best offensive players in the league. In addition to this added pressure, certain players on the team have voiced their increasing frustration with Atlanta’s underperformance. With Peirce’s contract expiring at the conclusion of next season, the Hawks will have to decide on whether to offer him an extension or look on the open market for a new head coach.
The Atlanta Hawks will enter the offseason as a team to watch with the most projected salary cap in the NBA and the 4th projected pick in the NBA draft. If the Hawks can sign a few key bench players like Jordan Clarkson, Mo Harkless and Jeff Teague, while signing an all around forward to come off the bench, then this young team can look to develop into playoff contenders as early as next season.
Projected Depth Chart 2020/21 Season –