2018-2019 Preview: Atlanta Hawks
Atlanta Hawks forward John Collins (20) celebrates with teammate guard Trae Young (11) against the New York Knicks during an NBA Summer League game at the Thomas & Mack Center. |Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports|

It was just three years ago that the Atlanta Hawks finished the season with the best record (60-22) and were playing for the Eastern Conference title. Most of the pivotal members of those teams are now gone. Head coach Mike Budenholzeris also out of the picture. The rebuild is on in the ATL, with the hopes of getting back to the playoffs and giving something to the fans to be excited about.

With a new head coach with a group of young talent on the roster, it seems that the Hawks have embraced the full on rebuild. With a couple of key players already in place and a plethora of draft picks coming up, it might not be long until the Hawks are competitive once again. We will save that for the future and talk about the now,

Here is a preview of the 2018-2019 Atlanta Hawks.

New head coach

|Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP|
Lloyd Pierce |Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP|

On May 7, the Hawks narrowed their coaching search to four candidates. Lloyd Pierce, Nate Tibbetts, Stephen Silas and Jay Larranaga were the four to keep an eye on. On May 11, it was announced that Pierce would be the next head coach of the Atlanta Hawks.

Pierce’s career started at Santa Clara University in 2003 as an assistant. He would spend three years with the Cleveland Cavaliers as an assistant, one year with the Golden State Warriors as an assistant, two year with the Memphis Grizzlies and spent the last five seasons with the Philadelphia 76ers as an assistant.

“As we set out to find a new head coach for our team, it was critically important to find a dynamic teacher who could connect with and develop our young core while instilling the culture and high standards we feel are necessary in a successful program,” Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk indicated.

“Lloyd Pierce checks every box, and we couldn’t be more excited to have him leading the Atlanta Hawks into the future.”

The Hawks will give him every opportunity to help the young guys develop and assist in their growth as he did in Philadelphia.


|Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images|
|Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images|

Entering draft night, the Hawks would have four draft picks, three of which being in the first round.

They used their first pick on Slovenian shooting guard Luka Doncic. However, it was later announced by Adrian Wojnarowski that the Atlanta Hawks and Dallas Mavericks made an agreement on a trade that would send Doncic to the Mavericks and Trae Young to Atlanta. Atlanta will also receive a future first rounder from the Mavericks.

Widely considered the best point guard in this draft class, Trae Young made his case by being the talk of college basketball for much of his one season at Oklahoma. The 6-2 point guard became the first Division I player in history to lead the nation in points (27.4) and assists (8.7) per game.

With the 19th pick in the draft, the Hawks selected small forward ​Kevin Huerter out of Maryland. Huerter averaged 14.8 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists in 34.4 minutes (.503 FG%, .417 3FG%, .758 FT%) as a sophomore at Maryland while starting 32 games, garnering All-Big 10 Honorable Mention and All-Academic Big 10 honors. Huerter averaged 12 points, five rebounds, 3 assists and .6 steals for his career at Maryland and started in 65 games.

With the 30th pick, Atlanta selected power forward Omari Spellman out of Villanova. Spell man entered the draft after a redshirt freshman season at Villanova that saw him named the Big East Freshman of the Year while helping the Wildcats to the 2018 National Championship. He averaged 10.9 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in 28.1 minutes (.476 FG%, .433 3FG%, .700 FT%) in 40 games (39 starting assignments). He ranked second in the Big East in blocks and fourth in both rebounding and 3FG% in 2017-18.

Along with John Collins, all three of these men went to the Las Vegas Summer League.

Free agency

The Atlanta Hawks has a relatively quite offseason.

Center Alex Len signed a two-year, $8.5 million contract early August, while Vince Carter, Daniel Hamilton, and Thomas Robinson signed at the end of the month. Jaylen Adams and Alex Poythress signed two-way contracts.

Most of the offseason activity came by trades.

On July 13, the Atlanta Hawks traded a 2020 protected second round pick and the draft rights to Isaïa Cordinier in exchange for a 2025 second round pick, the right to swap 2023 second round picks and point guard Jeremy Lin.

The biggest trade of the offseason came on July 25. The Atlanta Hawks sent Dennis Schröder to the Oklahoma City Thunder and Mike Muscala to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for Carmelo Anthony (OKC), Justin Anderson (Philadelphia) and a 2022 protected first-round pick (OKC).

Anthony, Tyler Cavanaugh, Isaiah Taylor, Jaylen Morris, and Antonius Cleveland were all waived.

Potential lineup

PG: Trae Young

SG: Kent Bazemore

SF: Taurean Prince

PF: John Collins

C: Dewayne Dedmon

Guards: Jeremy Lin, Jaylen Adams, Kevin Hurter, Vince Carter, Tyler Dorsey

Forwards/Centers: DeAndre' Bembry, Justin Anderson, Daniel Hamilton, Omari Spellman Alex Poythress, Alex Len, Miles Pumlee

Season Outlook

When it comes to rebuilding an organization, sometimes it can be tough. In the beginning stages, it isn't pretty. But in the end, the reward is totally worth is. Just as the Golden State Warriors, Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics.

This season will be all about growth and transition. How well will Trae Young, Kent Bazemore and John Collins play together? Will Young, Hurter and Collins develop into the next Hawks big three? Who will really stand out this season?

The Hawks will be commemorating their 50th season in Atlanta this year as well. Atlanta will wear the first jersey they wore in Atlanta this season – a powder blue and red-trimmed uniform that was worn most famously by Lou Hudson for just one season in 1968.

However, there might be the only thing to celebrate this season. Many predict that the Hawks will finish at the bottom of the NBA cellar. The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook's over/under season projections has Atlanta at 23.5.

The real excitement for the Hawks begins at the end of the season. Next summer at the draft, the could be in play for R.J. Barrett, Zion Williamson or Nassir Little. Depending how the Dallas Mavericks finish, the Hawks could also be in play for Quentin Grimes or Jontay Porter.

Just imagine the future lineup of that features Young, Barrett/Williamson, Collins and Porter. The rebuild process would be moved a long a little quicker than anticipated.

The future is bright in Atlanta.