To say the Atlanta Hawks are back to 2021 Eastern Conference Finals form would be a stretch, but it wouldn’t be that elastic if you catch the Hawks’ drift.
Ever since that magical playoff run that began in Madison Square Garden, the Hawks have been disappointing. To be fair, they surpassed what the team and fans expected out of them. To be honest, that team did what most thought they needed a couple more years for. They were ahead of their time. The map hadn’t fully rendered, but somehow they had reached a conclusion that saw them face the final boss in Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks.
Nonetheless, this year is different. The seamless transition Dejounte Murray has made in his new role in Atlanta has fit in better than anybody would have thought. There was much speculation on whether it would work with him and Trae Young, well it’s marvelously worked out. Murray is averaging 22.3 ppg, 6.5 rpg and 8.4 apg. His stats are all pretty similar to what he averaged in San Antonio, with a few improvements on the defensive end. In Atlanta, Murray’s defensive stats have increased as he’s now averaging 2.5 steals per game and 0.7 blocks per game.
Young is doing what fans expect. He’s averaging almost the same numbers as he did last year: 28.2 ppg, 3.3 rpg and 9.4 apg. What’s understood doesn’t have to be explained with Young.
It’s apparent the backcourt will rank amongst the highest in the league, but is a “big two” enough to win a championship?
Well, a championship is a hefty promise. Ask Lebron when he went down to Miami to join the Heat. Forget the promises, fans have to realize the Hawks don’t just have a “dynamic duo.” The Hawks have a big five.
The backcourt is the backcourt, but think about the other three guys running the floor. The Hawks’ frontcourt consists of De’Andre Hunter, John Collins and Clint Capela. Hunter and Collins both possess above-average athletic abilities and provide key pieces to the team. Look back to the season opener a couple of weeks ago against the Houston Rockets. Young, Murray, Hunter and Collins all had 20-plus points in a victory over the Rockets. It almost happened again in the following game against the Magic when Young, Murray and Collins repeated those same scoring totals.
On the season Hunter is averaging 14.4 ppg and 4.0 rpg. Right behind him is Collins averaging 12.9 ppg and a whopping 9.0 rpg. Going one more down the list and you get Capela averaging 9.3 ppg and 10.2 rpg. The team has players who can make plays and set their teammates up. The defense is impeccable. Yes, it’s the beginning of the season so it’s important not to overreact, but the Hawks are the fourth-ranked defense in the league and it’s no anomaly. Last year, the team finished sixteenth in the league in overall defensive ratings and struggled to stop elite guards on the perimeter. This team is built to play both sides of the ball and that has been at the forefront of their hot start to the season.
The Hawks are currently sixth in points per game with an overall ppg of 116.5. They’re eleventh in overall apg with 25.8 per game and rank eighth in the league in steals per game with 8.1. Once Bogdan Bogdanovic comes back, there’s no telling the heights the Hawks might soar to!