Tony Ressler, claims that the team’s complacency backfired in the summer. The 2021 playoffs were all about the Atlanta Hawks. Despite having the Eastern Conference’s fifth seed, the Hawks became hot at the right moment, resulting in an unexpected run to the Eastern Conference Finals. While they ultimately fell short against the eventual champion Milwaukee Bucks, many people anticipated Atlanta to be a force this season.
Possibly they overachieved down the extended final season, but the Falcons never might kick things into tall equipment like they were last season. Instep, they went fair 43-39 this season and, as it was, made it into the playoffs as the number eight seed within the East after winning their two Play-In Competition diversions. Whereas they battled bravely against the Miami Warm, they bowed out after as it were five recreations.
Many people have speculated what went wrong for Atlanta this season, but the team’s owner. He said that things would be different this time:
“This season, we expected to be better. This offseason, we want to improve. If you questioned our front management, I would say that, based on last season’s trip to the Eastern Conference Finals, we believed we could bring back essentially the same roster and improve and expect it to improve. That did not turn out the way we had hoped. So, rather than bringing back what we had, I believe we should have attempted to improve. By the way, it won’t happen again. It was, in my judgment, a mistake.” ESPN’s Tony Ressler
For various reasons, the Hawks’ offseason approach for 2021 was wrong.
Atlanta advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals by riding a strong run near the season’s conclusion. They believed that by improving as a team this season, they would be able to keep their lead in the East. While it isn’t the worst reasoning ever, it’s reasonable to say Atlanta’s front management did not do a good enough job building the Hawks squad for those dreams to come true.
Except for Trae Young, everyone’s progress slowed or stopped altogether. Last season, players like Bogdan Bogdanovic, Danilo Gallinari, and John Collins were not nearly as productive. Consequently, Young does more to bring his side to victories, which he achieves on occasion.
The Hawks were also one of the league’s weakest defensive teams, which was surprising given how well they played in the previous season. Atlanta concluded the season with the poorest defensive rating of any playoff club, ranking 26th in the league. Atlanta has several glaring areas to improve this summer after sitting on the bench for most of the previous offseason.
What should the Atlanta Hawks do this summer to cement their status as legitimate playoff contenders?
The first thing Atlanta seems to have to do this summer is to figure out what’s up with John Collins. Despite signing a five-year, $125 million agreement with the Hawks last summer. Collins has been the target of trade speculations for the previous two seasons.
Collins had a difficult season due to injuries and uneven performance, and Atlanta may have little choice but to move him.
The Hawks are more likely to keep Collins (and the rest of their core) and bolster their depth. Previously of the New York Knicks, Mitchell Robinson is someone they might seek in free agency.
Robinson is a fantastic inside defender who can contribute off the bench. Atlanta has some good big men, but defenders like Collins and Gallinari are lacking. Onyeka Okongwu to play as an undersized center behind Clint Capela for most of the season. Thus this will enable him to play in a capacity better suited to him next season. Starting Capela and benching Robinson would give the Hawks one of the league’s best 1-2 shot-blocking combinations at the center.
Atlanta has a lot of offensive depth, but they need defensive assistance, so they recommend Robinson. The Atlanta Hawks surpassed expectations in 2021 before falling short this season. But a strong summer performance may swiftly put them back atop the Eastern Conference rankings.