Evaluating the 2021-22 Atlanta Hawks

June 8th, 2022

By Alan Lu

Last year, the Atlanta Hawks made a coaching change that turned their season around for the better, and last season was a rousing success for them.  They replaced Lloyd Pierce with Nate McMillan, and McMillan helped the 2020-21 Hawks win 27 of 38 games to close out the season, as they went from being a borderline playoff team to a legitimate playoff team.  Then, they shocked the world by defeating both the Knicks and the 76ers in successive rounds due to the strong play of Trae Young, strong coaching, and due to having a deep and talented roster.  Big things were on the horizon after the Hawks had a very good 2021 postseason.

However, the 2021-22 Atlanta Hawks got off to a bump start.  They struggled to win games early on, and while they ended up winning 43 games in the regular season, they had to win both of their play-in tournament games to get into the playoffs.  They ended up facing the 1st seeded Miami Heat in the first round of the 2022 playoffs, but they ended up losing in 5 games.

Key Players:

Trae Young had a good season individually, but the Atlanta Hawks turned in a relatively disappointing season, as they barely made it to the playoffs, and then lost to the first seeded Miami Heat in 5 games.
(Photo:
Jim Rassol/USA Today Sports, via Sportsnaut)

Trae Young
2021-22 (ATL): 28.4 PPG, 9.7 APG, 3.7 RPG, 46 FG%, 38 3PT%, 90 FT%, 60 TS%, 25.4 PER, 10.0 WS

He is a superstar point guard that thrived as a shooter and scorer this past season for the Hawks.  He didn’t defend very well, but he did everything else well, and he also played well for them in the play-in tournament.

2022 Season Grade: B+
Projected 2023 Rating: 3.5 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Starting point guard of the Atlanta Hawks

John Collins had a fairly solid regular season but he and the Hawks struggled in the playoffs, and NBA fans may be wondering if their 2021 postseason last year was legitimate or a fluke.
(Photo:
David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images, via SB Nation’s Peachtree Hoops)

John Collins
2021-22 (ATL): 16.2 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 1.8 APG, 1.0 BPG, 53 FG%, 36 3PT%, 79 FT%, 61 TS%, 18.7 PER, 5.1 WS

He is an offensively skilled big man that played fairly well for them in the regular season.  He didn’t get the ball nearly enough in the postseason, and he will need to be more assertive on offense and improve his defense for next season.

2022 Season Grade: C
Projected 2023 Rating: 2.5 stars (3 stars potential)
Projected 2023 Role: Starting power forward of the Atlanta Hawks

Clint Capela
2021-22 (ATL): 11.1 PPG, 11.9 RPG, 1.3 BPG, 1.2 APG, 61 FG%, 0 3PT%, 47 FT%, 60 TS%, 21.4 PER, 8.3 WS

He is an athletic, energetic center that was the rim protector the Hawks this past season.  He generally excelled at playing on the interior in the regular season, but he didn’t have nearly as much of an impact in the playoffs, and he then got hurt that caused him to miss a good portion of the postseason.

2022 Season Grade: B-
Projected 2023 Rating: 2.5 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Starting center of the Atlanta Hawks

Kevin Huerter
2021-22 (ATL): 12.1 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 2.7 APG, 45 FG%, 39 3PT%, 81 FT%, 57 TS%, 11.9 PER, 2.8 WS

He is a skilled swingman that shot the ball well in the regular season, but struggled with his defense more this past year.  He also didn’t shoot the ball very well in the postseason.

2022 Season Grade: C+
Projected 2023 Rating: 2.5 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Starting shooting guard of the Atlanta Hawks

De’Andre Hunter
2021-22 (ATL): 13.4 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 1.3 APG, 44 FG%, 38 3PT%, 77 FT%, 55 TS%, 10.6 PER, 1.1 WS

He played in substantially more games in the regular season than in previous years, and he played a 3 and D role for his team in the NBA.  He still missed some time due to injuries, but he thrived as a shooter and scorer in the postseason.

2022 Season Grade: B
Projected 2023 Rating: 2.5 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Starting small forward of the Atlanta Hawks

Bogdan Bogdanović
2021-22 (ATL): 15.1 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 3.1 APG, 1.1 SPG, 43 FG%, 37 3PT%, 84 FT%, 56 TS%, 15.4 PER, 3.7 WS

He is a skilled swingman that had a good season for the Hawks, and he shot the ball well for them and thrived as a scorer off the bench.

2022 Season Grade: B
Projected 2023 Rating: 2.5 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Rotation player on the Atlanta Hawks

Danilo Gallinari
2021-22 (ATL): 11.7 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 1.5 APG, 43 FG%, 38 3PT%, 90 FT%, 58 TS%, 14.3 PER, 3.6 WS

He is a tall, skilled combo forward that shot the ball fairly well off the bench this year for the Hawks.  On the downside, he didn’t shoot as well in the postseason.

2022 Season Grade: C+
Projected 2023 Rating: 2.5 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Rotation player on the Atlanta Hawks

Onyeka Okongwu
2021-22 (ATL): 8.2 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 1.3 BPG, 1.1 APG, 69 FG%, 73 FT%, 71 TS%, 19.8 PER, 4.2 WS

He did a great job of providing inside scoring and rebounding for the Hawks off the bench in the regular season, but he didn’t shoot the ball nearly enough in the playoffs.

2022 Season Grade: B
Projected 2023 Rating: 2.5 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Rotation player on the Atlanta Hawks

Other Notable Players:

Lou Williams

He’s an older, aging veteran combo guard who hasn’t received as much playing time as he used to, and his shooting percentages and scoring numbers took a significant dip this year.

2022 Season Grade: D
Projected 2023 Rating: 2 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Rotation player on an NBA team

Delon Wright

He didn’t take a whole lot of shots this year, but he was efficient at making plays on both ends of the floor, and he also defended well this season.

2022 Season Grade: B
Projected 2023 Rating: 2 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Rotation player on an NBA team

Gorgui Dieng

He didn’t play much this year, but Dieng showed a good outside shot, and he also defended well in limited minutes for the Hawks this season.

2022 Season Grade: B-
Projected 2023 Rating: 2 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Rotation player on an NBA team

Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot

Luwawu-Cabarrot shot the ball significantly better than last year, but he didn’t seem to do much as well, and he didn’t get consistent playing time with the Hawks this season.

2022 Season Grade: C
Projected 2023 Rating: 2 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Rotation player on an NBA team

Jalen Johnson

He is an athletic, combo forward that barely played in the NBA, but he played well in the G-League, and should get minutes somewhere in the NBA next season, whether if that will be with the Hawks or another team.

2022 Season Grade: D+
Projected 2023 Rating: 1.5 stars (2.5 stars potential)
Projected 2023 Role: Fringe rotation player on the Atlanta Hawks

Other Players on the Roster:

Kevin Knox

He barely played this season, and he was a considerable disappointment this year, as he both didn’t play much, and also shot the ball poorly in the NBA this year, and the glory days of him playing at Kentucky now seem like it was so long ago.

2022 Season Grade: D-
Projected 2023 Rating: 1.5 stars (2 stars potential)
Projected 2023 Role: Fringe rotation player on the Atlanta Hawks

Skylar Mays

He has not gotten consistent playing time in the NBA and has barely played in this league, but shows potential as a scorer for the Hawks in the future.

2022 Season Grade: D+
Projected 2023 Rating: 1.5 stars (2 stars potential)
Projected 2023 Role: Fringe rotation player on the Atlanta Hawks

Sharife Cooper (Two-Way Player)

After having a terrific summer league in Las Vegas, big things were supposedly on the horizon for Cooper.  But he ended up getting buried on the bench this season in the NBA, and old questions about his jump shot or lack thereof resurfaced, and he also didn’t dominate in the G-League, either.

2022 Season Grade: D
Projected 2023 Rating: 1 star (2 stars potential)
Projected 2023 Role: Fringe rotation player on the Atlanta Hawks

Chaundee Brown (Two-Way Player)

He is an athletic swingman that projects into a 3 and D role in the NBA, but he didn’t shoot the ball very well in his rookie season this year.

2022 Season Grade: C-
Projected 2023 Rating: 1 star (2 stars potential)
Projected 2023 Role: Fringe rotation player on the Atlanta Hawks

Head Coach:

The Atlanta Hawks had trouble living up to the hype and to last year’s famed season, and they ended up losing in 5 games to the Heat in the first round of the 2022 NBA Playoffs.
(Photo:
Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

Nate McMillan
2021-22 (ATL): 43-39, 1-4 in the playoffs

After defeating the Knicks and the 76ers in last year’s postseason, the Hawks were expected to be one of the best teams in the East this year due to the tremendous talents of Trae Young, and due to having a deep and talented roster that can shoot, score, and distribute the basketball.

However, the Hawks got off to a slow start, and while they won 43 games, they ended up having to play in the play-in tournament.  They won both of their games, but they then lost in 5 games in the 1st Round of the NBA Playoffs to 1st seeded, Miami Heat.  This season was a disappointment overall, although the Hawks still made it to the playoffs this year.

2022 Season Grade: C-
Projected 2023 Rating: 2 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Head Coach of the Atlanta Hawks

The Atlanta Hawks’ Projected 2022-23 Rotation:

C Clint Capela
F John Collins
F De’Andre Hunter
G Kevin Huerter
G Trae Young
_____________________
G Bogdan Bogdanovic
F Danilo Gallinari
C Onyeka Okongwu
16th Overall Pick
F Jalen Johnson

The Atlanta Hawks’ Picks in the 2022 NBA Draft:
#16, #44

The Atlanta Hawks’ Projected 2023 Win-Loss Record:
46-36, 5th in the Eastern Conference

Their Projected Offseason Plan:

The Atlanta Hawks are projected to be capped out, so they won’t have much money to spend in the offseason.  They will need to improve their defense, and in the short run, they could use a backup point guard to strengthen their depth.  For the long run, they could look to acquire another player that could play well off of Trae Young and John Collins in the future.

Right now, it seems that the Hawks are at a crossroads. While they have superstar point guard Trae Young and were able to get to the 2021 Western Conference Finals, they were eliminated early in the first round of the playoffs this year, and had to win both of the play-in tournament games to get into the playoffs. They will need to improve their defense, but they also could look to add more offensive firepower to help Trae Young out. Otherwise, they may run the risk of topping out as a mid-tier playoff team in the future.

I went to No Trade Clause and Basketball-Reference for research purposes.  Thanks for reading.

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