At 43-39, the Atlanta Hawks took a step back from their playoff run in 2021. They still made the playoffs in 2022 but with the help of the NBA play-in tournament.
After beating the Charlotte Hornets, followed by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Unfortunately they lost to the Miami Heat in five games 4-1 in the first round of the playoffs.
With their season over, what’s next for the Atlanta Hawks? The Hawks posted an 116.5 offensive rating (second best in in the league) while posting a 114.9 defensive rating (good for 26th in the league, otherwise they have a bottom five defense).
As for their offensive rating, that’s not surprising due to their prolific scorers in Trey Young, John Collins, Bogdan Bogdanovic and Kevin Huerter.
The issue isn’t their offense, it’s their defense unfortunately. With that being said, let’s look at ways for the Hawks to improve their defense without losing their offensive spark, in addition to other ways for them to improve their team.
Acquire more defensive-minded players
They tried to solve the issue by playing guys like Deion Wright off the bench in place of Lou Williams, but it didn’t work as well. I think the issue is the scheme that the Hawks deploy on that end as well as many of the players in the rotation. Going into next season, they should try to acquire more defensive minded players, ideally the 3 and d type players. Those types of players can help complement the likes of Young and the rest of the Hawks core.
The reason they should get more defensive guys is due to the majority of their rotation being filled with offense-first guys. People like Young, who is really bad on the defensive end. You can add Bogdanovic or Huerter to that, since neither are experts on that end.
Guys like Clint Capela, De’Andre Hunter, Gorgui Dieng and Onyeka Okongwu either have taken a step back on defense, been injured or a combination of both. Thus, when their better defensive players don’t play as much, that means more minutes for Collins and Danilo Gallinari, who are offensively skilled but also are bad defensively.
If they can get someone like Reggie Bullock, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Josh Hart, or a player similar to that mold, they can improve their defense slowly and help the good players like Capela and Hunter, their defense can make major positive strides.
Trade for a two way big man that can complement Trae Young
Speaking more on getting two way players, it would make a huge difference for Atlanta if they can get more two way players instead of players that are only good on one side of the floor.
If they can flip two of their core guys (Like Collins or Huerter) for a solid second guy (Like Jaren Jackson Jr) who has great two way potential, it could make wonders for a Hawks team, needing more solid two way guys. If you can’t get the secondary guy, maybe a change in some of their role players would do the trick. Someone like a Harrison Barnes or a Myles Turner could also help the Hawks defensively without losing too much on the offensive end either.
I think by acquiring more defensive minded players to surround Young and some of their other offensive gifted scorers they can have potential to be a top 4 team in the East. They have been doing a solid job so far at acquiring offensive talent to Surround Trae Young. Now they need to surround more defensive talent to also complement those pieces.