May 21, 2023, 1:48 pm
When I sat down to write the year-end review of the Atlanta Hawks most recent season, I wasn’t entirely sure how best to describe it. Up and down? Perhaps one could make the argument that this shoe fits, but that implies a level of achievement–or the lack thereof–that wasn’t quite evident in the 2022-2023 season. Words like disappointment, erratic or uninspiring also come to mind as apt descriptions for a team that opened the season with a blockbuster trade to support their in-house superstar and provide more relief for a solid supporting cast. That they ended the season with the most mediocre record imaginable speaks volumes about the inconsistency that plagued the Hawks all year. In fact, their middling results made it clear to me that the Hawks end-of-year review might best be labeled–no doubt to the reader’s confusion–as a “mid” season review, with extra emphasis on mid. Quite simply, the only thing consistent about this team was their inconsistency. The Hawks were one of the best examples of a team that was stronger on paper than in practice in the 2022-2023 season.
How Did We Get Here?
Most Hawks fans will tell you it started with two trades: Kevin Huerter going out and Dejounte Murray coming in. The Hawks knew they needed to shore up their defense after getting bounced by the Heat the previous year and that culminated in the blockbuster trade that brought Murray to town in exchange for Danilo Gallinari and several first round picks. At that point, Huerter had already been shipped out in exchange for a couple of defensive specialists–Maurice Harkless and Justin Holiday–plus draft capital in a move that was mostly viewed as a cost-saving measure. Unsurprisingly, the idiom “you get what you pay for,” seemed applicable in short order with hindsight on the Huerter deal. Readers will note that neither Harkless nor Holiday closed the season with the Hawks.
The combined effort to duck under the luxury tax threshold while also adding defenders came at the expense of perimeter shooting, as Gallinari and Huerter were well-established in those roles for the Hawks. To nobody’s surprise, a Trae Young-led offense put up lots of points. However, they weren’t able to convert them to wins with regularity. It’s hard to say if Young learning to share the ball with another primary playmaker was a greater problem than the impact of lost shooting–or declining shooting, in Young and John Collins’ case–on the team but it was clear that the well-oiled machine that the Hawks had established themselves to be throughout the best parts of Young’s tenure was no more as they began to incorporate a second on-ball star while shaving several points off Collins’ formerly 20-plus usage rate.
The question of who to blame was a common one among fans and media throughout a season that was expected to prove that the Hawks belonged in the 2019-2020 Eastern Conference Finals, as opposed to giving them a chance to repeat their eighth-seeded first-round exit in 2020-2021. The reality is that this team duplicated their already disappointing mark from their previous year by falling out of the playoffs in the first round once again. Moving forward, pressure should continue to mount on the likes of Collins and Young to deliver on their sky-high potential and assert themselves as leaders on the team, while Murray’s fit alongside his fellow All-Star point guard will be under a microscope as the team seeks to maximize Young’s athletic prime. To his credit, Murray’s defensive utility proved valuable and he demonstrated a commitment to more regularly spacing the floor, but the former Spurs guard still left room for improvement at the point of attack and in so-so efficiency from range.
As with all teams that struggle to meet expectations, the coach was one of the first dominoes to fall. The Hawks’ new management team, led by former players Landry Fields and Kyle Korver, dismissed Nate McMillan just after the All-Star break and wasted no time in replacing him with former Jazz bench boss, Quin Snyder. McMillan’s reputation as a defensive coach was not bolstered by this season’s results and this was surely a key factor in his eventual dismissal, as the Hawks were ranked in the bottom-10 of defensive rating prior to McMillan getting the axe. He might have been saved or at least allowed to finish the season if the team’s offensive rating didn’t plummet from 2nd overall to 15th before the All-Star break. Snyder’s late-season tenure showed that the offense was fixable as the Hawks finished 7th in offensive rating, but that there may be a roster construction issue as a second consecutive defense-oriented coach was unable to coax any improvement out of his team on the less-glamorous end.
The offense-defense balance was regularly raised as an issue for this Hawks team that featured a collection of similarly talented role players at multiple positions. While the likes of Clint Capela and Onyeka Okongwu are both impressive rim protectors and rebounders, their fit together was like a square peg and a round hole. Generally speaking, they excelled in the same areas and were limited in the same ways as well, which in the pace and space era made it hard to deploy the two rim-running bigs together. Similarly, John Collins led a rotation of offense-first forwards that weren’t particularly productive on the other end of the ball. In the respective cases of Collins, De’Andre Hunter, Jalen Johnson and Saddiq Bey, their best talents were mitigated by the fact that Murray and Young both had sky-high usage rates which limited the amount of on-ball time available to the forward core. Having two All-Star point guards required one or the other to settle into an off-ball role at times, which may have been more effective if Murray was ever considered a shooter or if Young didn’t shoot a worse percentage on fewer attempts this season. When secondary playmakers like Bogdan Bogdanovic or Aaron Holiday were thrown into the mix, it was more likely that they would be asked to be play finishers than playmakers, as evidenced by their simultaneous declines in assists per game from the previous season. Thankfully, they were part of a larger core of rotational talent that were more than capable of connecting from range. In fact, most of the aforementioned players joined rookie sniper A.J. Griffin in forming a solid crew of potential floor spacers. Yet somehow, this same crew helped the Hawks to bottom-10 finishes in all three categories from 3-point range: shooting percentage, makes and attempts.
Something just didn’t click for the Hawks this season. Though their average scoring rate was higher than almost every team in the league, their opponents had a higher scoring average than all but four teams as well. When the playoffs came around, the Hawks were able to push through the Heat’s tenacious defense in the Play-In Tournament but they couldn’t out-score the dynamic offense of the Celtics in the first round. Despite turning every game but the first into a shootout, the Hawks weren’t able generate more points with their predominantly inside-the-arc attack than the Celtics were while constantly launching from range. It’s ironic that a team might try to turn a game into a shootout while minimizing the impact of its shooters but that is a fair description of how the Hawks offense functioned this year.
Trivia time: the Hawks had three coaches in the 2022-2023 season and only one of them had a winning record. We’ve already touched on Nate McMillan’s lack of success this season and that Quin Snyder actually boosted the offense back to previous levels, but both men were on the wrong side of .500 this year. If measured by winning percentage, interim coach Joe Prunty can now lay claim to the title of winningest coach in Hawks history after posting a 2-and-0 mark in between bench bosses.
What is there to say about McMillan and his tenure with the Hawks that hasn’t already been said? A veteran coach failed to deliver on his core competency of defense while also failing to create a cohesive offense that would allow a strong collection of talents on that end to shine. One thing has universally been true of ball-dominant offensive players like Young: they are most effective in space. To that end, teams usually surround them with shooters and ball movers while trying to increase pressure on perimeter defenders and stretch opposing bigs away from the basket to allow clearer paths to the rim. However, no team attempted more shots inside the arc than the Hawks and that was surely one of the major strikes against McMillan when management was evaluating his future with the team. There is nothing specifically wrong with leading the league in field goals, 2-point field goals and 2-point field goal attempts, but when that’s contrasted with bottom-10 finishes in all 3-point categories, it’s clear that the team wasn’t doing enough to create space for players like Collins, Murray and Young to operate. Management was surely questioning what the point of drafting a shooter (Griffin), trading for another (Bey) and retaining a few more (Bogdanovic and Hunter) was when the results didn’t materialize as expected.
It also has to be pointed out that McMillan’s downfall seemed to be partly because of a less-than-stellar relationship with Trae Young. If true, that would make for the second Hawks coaching change in a row that was heavily influenced by Young’s feelings.
We know that McMillan got the boot, so let’s dive into Snyder’s tenure with the team. For fantasy purposes, he was a boon for Capela and Okongwu and we know that the team’s offensive rating broke into the top-10 over this period. However, it’s also fair to note that Murray and Young were considerably less valuable in fantasy once Snyder came to town, as seen in their reduced usage, points and treys past February 26th. A more egalitarian offense saw eight different players average 11 or more points per game and it was clear that it was coming at the expense of the lead guards. With such a small sample size, it’s hard to say if that was the best result for the team or not but it is certainly true that managers of Murray and Young wouldn’t have appreciated this transition. It will be noted here and at multiple other points in this article that Snyder’s time with the Hawks corresponded with a drop in 3-point volume for many key players. This is uncharacteristic of his time at the helm of the Jazz and something that seems to be a focus for the Hawks moving forward, as every player, including non-shooters like Okongwu, seems to be speaking about how Snyder is encouraging them to develop in that area.
The regular season showed little evidence of this but a short-lived playoff run did allow the Hawks to position themselves at a middle-of-the-pack team in terms of volume and accuracy from behind the arc. For a team that desperately needs to create more space for its best talents to operate in, this is likely going to be the key variable by which Snyder is judged next season. Shoring up the defense would be a close second but Snyder has been handed a roster of predominantly offensive players and he may need some roster tweaks before being expected to show real results there.
The PlayersTrae YoungPG, Atlanta Hawks
Season Team GP GS MPG FGM FGA FG% FTM FTA FT% 3PTM 3PTA 3PT% PTS REB AST STL BLK TO 22-23 ATL 73 73 34.8 8.2 19.0 42.9 7.8 8.8 88.6 2.1 6.3 33.5 26.2 3.0 10.2 1.1 0.1 4.1 21-22 ATL 76 76 34.9 9.4 20.3 46.0 6.6 7.3 90.4 3.1 8.0 38.2 28.4 3.7 9.7 0.9 0.1 4.0 20-21 ATL 62 62 34.0 7.8 17.8 43.9 7.8 8.7 88.7 2.2 6.4 34.3 25.5 3.9 9.4 0.8 0.2 4.2
ADP: 10/10 (Yahoo/ESPN) | Total Value: 9/33 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 24/51 (8/9-cat)
One thing about Trae Young that has been proven true so far and should remain so in future fantasy seasons: he will be extremely productive as a high usage on-ball player but will also turn the ball over more than all but a handful of players. In fantasy terms, that accounts for a major gap in his 8-cat versus his 9-cat valuations. There are few that can match his output in points, assists and free throws, just as there are few that can match his paltry production in field goal percentage, rebounds and turnovers. In a sense, that defines his 2022-2023 season perfectly.
The precocious lead guard was offense incarnate for the Hawks this year as he posted top-10 individual numbers in points, 2-point field goal attempts, field goal attempts, free throw attempts and was the league leader in total assists. Despite previously posting top-10 marks in 3-pointers made and attempted, Young didn’t come close to qualifying this season after attempting nearly two fewer treys per game while dropping from a .382 to a .335 completion rate. If the key variable between this and previous seasons was the addition of Murray creating an obligation for Young to do more off-ball work, then it was an unsuccessful experiment from that perspective.
There should be no question of Young’s continued ability and opportunity to generate in his best areas: assists, free throws and points. After all, this is the man who had every fan in Madison Square Garden treating him like mid-90’s Michael Jordan not so long ago. That was when the Stephen Curry draft comparisons were still hanging on to Young and when he was liable to pull up from the logo because he felt like it. While that might indicate some extra maturity to his game, the reality is that it drastically impacted Young’s fantasy game. Without that fourth offensive category to carry his value, Young didn’t come close to the first round valuation that he started the season with. After Snyder came to town, Young’s 3-point attack declined further and coupled with his poor field goal percentage, rebounds and turnovers to sink him to more of a mid-round valuation. It’s likely that Young falls from his first round perch ahead of next drafts. If this year was any indication, he may only be a potential value-added pick once the second round comes to a close.Dejounte MurraySG, Atlanta Hawks
Season Team GP GS MPG FGM FGA FG% FTM FTA FT% 3PTM 3PTA 3PT% PTS REB AST STL BLK TO 22-23 ATL 74 74 36.4 8.3 17.8 46.4 2.1 2.6 83.2 1.8 5.2 34.4 20.5 5.3 6.1 1.5 0.3 2.2 21-22 SA 67 67 34.8 8.5 18.3 46.3 2.8 3.6 78.8 1.4 4.3 33.0 21.2 8.4 9.3 2.0 0.3 2.7 20-21 SA 67 67 31.9 6.6 14.5 45.3 1.6 2.0 79.1 0.9 3.0 31.7 15.7 7.1 5.4 1.5 0.1 1.7
ADP: 21/26 (Yahoo/ESPN) | Total Value: 22/25 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 37/34 (8/9-cat)
Murray turned a new leaf after the Hawks trade came to fruition last summer. As the headlining talent of a blockbuster trade, there was a sort of career validation that came with the change of scenery. Murray was expected to be a key player on a team with serious playoff aspirations for the first time in his career. Further, he became more vocal about his life and career after leaving the Spurs and became more of a polarizing figure on social media, which surely added another layer of pressure to this transitional year for the Seattle-born baller. After a 7-3 start to the season for the Hawks, Murray was rolling and ranked within the top-10 for all fantasy producers. Everything seemed to validate Murray’s 2021-2022 valuation in that same range and the Hawks were patting themselves on the back for having acquired him. After all, there are few guards in the league that offer near-average or better production in a whopping seven categories: points, treys, rebounds, assists, steals, field goal percentage and free throw percentage.
Fast forward another two weeks: the Hawks were 17 games into the season and Murray was outside the top-20 while losing his 3-point output, struggling with his shot, collecting fewer rebounds and distributing fewer assists. Things were starting to seem less rosy in Atlanta as the team began what would become a season-long trend of alternating wins and losses. To be sure, Murray was still a very effective fantasy producer, but less so than expected. He retained his early round valuation throughout McMillan’s tenure despite growing concerns about his role within what seemed to be a “your turn, my turn” offense. Having completed most of the season by the time McMillan was fired, Murray’s overall value wasn’t too drastically impacted when he plummeted outside the top-75 during Snyder’s tenure.
Depending on one’s perspective, the narrative on Murray before next season’s fantasy drafts will likely be a question of where he belongs in the early rounds of drafts. As one of the most well-rounded guards in terms of 9-cat production, he rightly has a claim to be one of the first names off the board. However, managers will have to ask themselves what is different after a season that saw across-the-board declines in points, rebounds, assists and steals. Early results with Snyder didn’t help Murray’s value and it’s still Young’s team, so there will be some justifiable skepticism about him unless some preseason hype about the backcourt duo starts to dispel doubts. It’s likely that his mid-20 draft range takes a hit before 2023-2024 fantasy drafts and managers with tempered expectations could find a nice buy low candidate if Murray slides.John CollinsPF, Atlanta Hawks
Season Team GP GS MPG FGM FGA FG% FTM FTA FT% 3PTM 3PTA 3PT% PTS REB AST STL BLK TO 22-23 ATL 71 71 30.0 5.1 10.0 50.8 2.0 2.5 80.3 1.0 3.4 29.2 13.1 6.5 1.2 0.6 1.0 1.1 21-22 ATL 54 53 30.8 6.3 11.9 52.6 2.5 3.1 79.3 1.2 3.3 36.4 16.2 7.8 1.8 0.6 1.0 1.1 20-21 ATL 62 62 29.5 6.8 12.3 55.5 2.7 3.2 83.0 1.3 3.3 39.6 17.7 7.5 1.3 0.5 1.0 1.4
ADP: 58/81 (Yahoo/ESPN) | Total Value: 105/89 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 122/102 (8/9-cat)
After struggling through finger and foot issues in the previous season, John Collins declared that his plantar fascia was under control. “My foot…is healed completely,” said Collins before the season while adding that his finger is as good as it could be. Considering his professed good health and a draft range that was not at all reflective of his fantasy value in previous seasons, Collins may have seemed to be a steal to some managers. After all, the young, high-flying forward gets paid $25 million a year to play the role of the dynamic offensive big for a team that had not one but two elite playmakers to set him up for success. A pick-and-roll stud and elite above-the-rim threat like Collins might have seemed like an ideal fit next to his new backcourt.
Needless to say, Collins struggled this season and fell short of what already seemed to be tempered expectations, if his ADP is any indicator. After a hot start to the season, Collins generally underwhelmed with inconsistent scoring, rebounding and poor field goal percentage. Disenchanted Hawks fans might say that’s why his name seems to be a staple on the yearly trading block rumors and there may be some truth to that notion. However, Collins seemed to have a strong bond with Coach McMillan, who he credited for helping him to feel more secure in his role with the team and for having his back repeatedly when prompted by the media. The Wake Forest alum labeled McMillan as the single most important person in the organization that he felt a sense of mutual empathy with, so it’s fair to say that McMillan’s dismissal was likely a contributing factor to what became a greater decline under Snyder.
A talent such as Collins still managed to shine in small doses while playing under all three of his coaches this season but it seemed clear by year-end that Capela and Okongwu were having more success in the post under Snyder, who also seemed to prefer using his small forwards at the four in order to offset the lack of spacing from his centers. Collins lost about four minutes per game in this final stretch of the season while falling from around the mid-70s to outside the top-150 in terms of per game valuation. It’s likely that this drags his 2023-2024 draft range down even further than it was this past year, but managers shouldn’t forget the highlights, offensive flashes and general utility that earned Collins his hefty contract and made him the source of perpetual rumors for several years now. The 6’9” forward has the multi-category potential to reach an early round valuation in the right situation but it seems like that may no longer be with the Hawks. In a new situation, there’s no telling what Collins could produce but he has proven to be a bad bet lately.Clint CapelaC, Atlanta Hawks
Season Team GP GS MPG FGM FGA FG% FTM FTA FT% 3PTM 3PTA 3PT% PTS REB AST STL BLK TO 22-23 ATL 65 63 26.6 5.4 8.2 65.3 1.2 2.0 60.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 12.0 11.0 0.9 0.7 1.2 0.8 21-22 ATL 74 73 27.6 5.0 8.2 61.3 1.1 2.3 47.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 11.1 11.9 1.2 0.7 1.3 0.6 20-21 ATL 64 63 29.7 6.5 10.9 59.4 2.0 3.5 57.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 14.9 14.1 0.8 0.7 2.0 1.1
ADP: 80/101 (Yahoo/ESPN) | Total Value: 88/61 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 69/41 (8/9-cat)
There is a beautiful simplicity to Clint Capela’s game. There isn’t much to a scouting report on the Swiss big who almost exclusively functions as a defensive anchor, pick-and-roll threat, rebounder, rim protector and second-chance scorer. Despite a relatively modest role, Capela fully commits to it and ranks among the very best in each of those areas he excels in, which has earned him starter’s minutes and tens of millions of dollars for nearly a decade. For the sixth straight season, Capela averaged a double-double with at least one block per game and no worse than a .594 average from the field.
Unlike some of his teammates, it hardly matters who a player like Capela plays next to. His role won’t noticeably change from one team to another, so long as he is getting playing time. In fact, he is the first example so far of a player that wasn’t impacted at all by the McMillan-Snyder swap. That’s why Capela is one of the best examples of a successful fantasy season from the Hawks this time around. Moving forward, Capela will be swiftly approaching his 30th birthday and will be facing increasingly stiff competition from a very capable backup in Okongwu. He may be on borrowed time with the Hawks if Okongwu continues at his current rate of development, but it should hardly matter who Capela plays for next season. Though we’re likely in the middle or end stages of his career peak, it’s clear that Capela can block shots, dunk and get boards with the best in the league. Expect another mid round pre-draft valuation and eventual final rank for him no matter what the future holds, as he’s one of the best options for a free throw punting team looking for a classic post stats producer.Onyeka OkongwuC, Atlanta Hawks
Season Team GP GS MPG FGM FGA FG% FTM FTA FT% 3PTM 3PTA 3PT% PTS REB AST STL BLK TO 22-23 ATL 80 18 23.1 4.0 6.2 63.8 1.9 2.5 78.1 0.1 0.2 30.8 9.9 7.2 1.0 0.7 1.3 1.0 21-22 ATL 48 6 20.6 3.3 4.7 69.0 1.7 2.3 72.7 0.0 0.0 0.0 8.2 5.9 1.1 0.6 1.3 0.9 20-21 ATL 49 3 11.6 1.8 2.8 63.2 0.7 1.1 64.8 0.0 0.1 0.0 4.2 3.0 0.3 0.4 0.6 0.6
ADP: 122/139 (Yahoo/ESPN) | Total Value: 61/42 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 104/75 (8/9-cat)
It’s not hyperbolic to say that Onyeka Okongwu’s 2022-2023 season was an unqualified success. What else do you call it when a player’s year-end valuation in 8-cat and 9-cat leagues is better than their ADP? Building on that: what else would you call it when your backup big proves to be a potentially greater defensive asset than the already impressive behemoth in front of him in the rotation? Okongwu isn’t yet at Capela’s level of production on the boards but this year, he surpassed his peer as a defender with a boost in both blocks and steals. The third-year big proved to be switchable out to the perimeter and was still capable of recovering to protect the rim, which puts him in rare company among NBA pivots. In fantasy terms, that equated to his first year inside the top-100 based mainly on the strength of top-tier output in blocks and field goal percentage with expectedly low turnovers. Signs of a developing shot became increasingly evident with Okongwu, whose .769 mark from the free throw line wasn’t particularly impressive unless compared with his positional peers. Slight boosts in points and rebounds rounded out what was an almost universal improvement over previous marks for the USC alumni.
Moving into the 2023-2024 season, the biggest question for managers looking at potentially drafting Okongwu–and that should be just about everyone–will be how much playing time will be available to him. Most of what Okongwu accomplished in this past season was in limited minutes, which made his top-100 ranking even more impressive. If nothing changes, it’s likely that he meets or slightly exceeds those marks as he continues to expand his game. However, if Capela is injured or traded by the start of next season, it’s highly likely that Okongwu asserts himself as the new starting center. It’s not unrealistic to think that he could reach or exceed similar heights as Capela has achieved if Okongwu is rewarded with similar playing time.Saddiq BeyPF, Atlanta Hawks
Season Team GP GS MPG FGM FGA FG% FTM FTA FT% 3PTM 3PTA 3PT% PTS REB AST STL BLK TO 22-23 ATL 77 37 27.6 4.6 10.9 42.2 2.7 3.1 86.1 2.0 5.4 36.1 13.8 4.7 1.5 0.9 0.2 0.9 21-22 DET 81 81 33.2 5.5 13.9 39.7 2.6 3.1 82.9 2.6 7.5 34.6 16.2 5.4 2.9 0.9 0.2 1.2 20-21 DET 69 52 27.1 3.9 9.7 40.6 1.7 2.1 84.5 2.5 6.4 38.4 12.1 4.5 1.3 0.7 0.2 0.8
ADP: 92/82 (Yahoo/ESPN) | Total Value: 114/93 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 153/128 (8/9-cat)
As one of the best offensive options on a relatively noncompetitive Pistons squad, Saddiq Bey was rewarded with a top-100 ADP by fantasy managers ahead of the 2022-2023 season. It seemed a bit optimistic even then and would likely seem more so with the knowledge that he’d end up losing usage and playing time once traded to the Hawks. Generally speaking, Bey continued to perform as advertised with both teams this season, posting solid if unspectacular points on solid free throw shooting and volume along with around two treys and a steal per game. However, Bey averaged three fewer free throws, minutes and points per game after joining the Hawks. At least this was offset by a major boost in field goal percentage, as Bey’s atrocious .404 completion rate with the Pistons jumped to .470 in his 25 games with the Hawks.
Moving into next season, it seems like Bey will start out in a sort of sixth man role for the Hawks. For a player that needs to be involved on offense in order to make his presence felt, it’s not necessarily a bad thing for Bey. While it should limit his ceiling as a fantasy producer, the reality is that that his ceiling wasn’t particularly high in the first place. Bey fell short of his late round ADP in 2022-2023 and figures to fall into the same sort of valuation in the upcoming year. For teams looking for a shooting specialist with some limited steals upside, Bey could be an intriguing streamer or end-of-bench option, but it’s unlikely that he’ll be able to push past that point without diversifying his game in the offseason.De'Andre HunterSF, Atlanta Hawks
Season Team GP GS MPG FGM FGA FG% FTM FTA FT% 3PTM 3PTA 3PT% PTS REB AST STL BLK TO 22-23 ATL 67 67 31.7 5.7 12.3 46.1 2.6 3.1 82.6 1.5 4.3 35.0 15.4 4.2 1.4 0.5 0.3 1.2 21-22 ATL 53 52 29.7 4.8 10.8 44.2 2.4 3.1 76.5 1.4 3.7 37.9 13.4 3.3 1.3 0.7 0.4 1.3 20-21 ATL 22 18 29.7 5.3 10.8 48.9 3.0 3.5 87.0 1.4 4.2 33.7 15.0 4.9 2.0 0.9 0.5 1.2
ADP: 139/140 (Yahoo/ESPN) | Total Value: 175/175 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 188/196 (8/9-cat)
After spending the season being tasked with some of the most difficult defensive matchups from night-to-night, De’Andre Hunter proved himself to be more than just a shooting specialist. Though his season averages continue to suggest that of him, the numbers don’t quite capture his value to the team. Unfortunately, that wasn’t much consolation for fantasy managers that were looking for more than just average points, treys and free throws with low turnovers. Despite being one of the best point-of-attack and help defenders on the team, Hunter was spectacularly unproductive in both blocks and steals, which coupled with his low output in assists and rebounds to form a relatively unappealing fantasy package. As with several of his peers listed above, Hunter also saw decreases in key areas–free throws and treys–after Snyder came to town, but was still enthusiastic about his new coach while conducting year-end interviews.
With an ADP around 140, it was clear that managers didn’t have particularly high hopes for Hunter to start the 2022-2023 season. Players in that range are typically streamed in and out of rosters throughout the year and it was likely that this happened with Hunter in many readers’ leagues. Expect more of the same in 2023-2024, as Hunter seems set to return to the team with starter’s minutes and a fairly stable role. It’s likely that a positional battle develops between Hunter and Bey which will likely limit the overall appeal of both men next season.Bogdan BogdanovicSG, Atlanta Hawks
Season Team GP GS MPG FGM FGA FG% FTM FTA FT% 3PTM 3PTA 3PT% PTS REB AST STL BLK TO 22-23 ATL 54 9 27.9 5.1 11.3 44.7 1.2 1.4 83.1 2.7 6.7 40.6 14.0 3.1 2.8 0.8 0.3 1.2 21-22 ATL 63 27 29.3 5.4 12.6 43.1 1.5 1.8 84.3 2.7 7.3 36.8 15.1 4.0 3.1 1.1 0.2 1.1 20-21 ATL 44 27 29.7 6.1 12.8 47.3 0.9 1.0 90.9 3.3 7.6 43.8 16.4 3.6 3.3 1.1 0.3 1.2
ADP: 137/136 (Yahoo/ESPN) | Total Value: 178/169 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 136/126 (8/9-cat)
In previous years as a member of both the Hawks and Kings, Bogdanovic established himself as a player with top-75 potential. Thanks to his ability to function as a secondary scorer or playmaker, Bogdanovic earned a late-round ADP in a season where managers were likely more skeptical of his potential due to preseason injuries and a new ball-dominant player in the backcourt. While it was true that this limited Bogdanovic’s scoring output and shaved an assist off his previous average, the 6’6” swingman still splashed 2.7 treys per game and registered near-average marks in points, assists and steals. The shift away from McMillan wasn’t particularly impactful on the veteran aside from the impressive .483 completion rate that Bogdanovic had from the field in his 19 games under Snyder. It’s important to note that this was accomplished in nearly five fewer minutes per game, so it seems like Snyder worked well with the Serbian swingman. Overall, Bogdanovic returned about equal value relative to his draft range and gets a passing grade as a result.
Though he is now approaching the age where questions will begin to arise about his longevity, Bogdanovic is still a very useful utility player that can be deployed in a lot of different ways. It seems like he may be in a bit of a minutes crunch if the roster doesn’t change much. Between Bey, Hunter and A.J. Griffin, the Hawks will have several mouths to feed on the perimeter. Yet it remains true that even in reduced minutes with his new coach, Bogdanovic still produced standard league value with mostly unchanged output from his higher-minute, higher-usage role under McMillan. Managers aren’t likely to forget that he finished the 2021-2022 season and previous years well within the top-100, so it’s not likely that his ADP gets any lower than it was this season. If his ADP fell outside the top-150, Bogdanovic would be a waiver wire player in standard leagues and one of the likeliest candidates to be streamed at the start of the season.AJ GriffinSF, Atlanta Hawks
Season Team GP GS MPG FGM FGA FG% FTM FTA FT% 3PTM 3PTA 3PT% PTS REB AST STL BLK TO 22-23 ATL 72 12 19.5 3.4 7.4 46.5 0.6 0.7 89.4 1.4 3.6 39.0 8.9 2.1 1.0 0.6 0.2 0.6
ADP: N/A/N/A (Yahoo/ESPN) | Total Value: 214/193 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 271/251 (8/9-cat)
As with most second generation NBA players, A.J. Griffin entered the league with a bit more insight into what it takes to be a pro. Perhaps that’s why he was so ready to grab the spotlight when he got a chance early in the season. Griffin was a blue chip prospect coming out of high school but still got slapped with labels like “raw” when he entered the league after an unspectacular year at Duke. It turned out that the rookie came to the league with no less than one bankable NBA skill: shooting. Leading into the New Year, Griffin had registered 55 treys in only 32 games while adding a steal per night on some really efficient shooting from the field and free throw line. Unfortunately, that would be the high water mark for a season that saw Griffin’s playing time gradually decline as Bey was acquired and Bogdanovic regained his health. Bright spots were fewer and farther between for Griffin once calendars flipped to January but the nights that saw him getting 20-plus minutes usually corresponded with passable standard league fantasy value. Despite losing his early momentum, Griffin is still among rare company after making multiple game-winning shots in his first year.
As one of the most important prospects for the Hawks, it’s likely that the organization will want to put him in a position to succeed in his sophomore year. In a sense, it shouldn’t be hard; the team notably lacks a punch from the perimeter and that is exactly what Griffin is best at. However, it’s fair to say that the same is true of every player in front of him in the rotation at shooting guard and small forward, to varying degrees. Griffin seems like a wait-and-see player ahead of next season’s fantasy drafts. Unless he’s able to steal some minutes from the trio of Bey, Bogdanovic and Hunter, it’s unlikely that Griffin has staying power in standard leagues.Jalen JohnsonPF, Atlanta Hawks
Season Team GP GS MPG FGM FGA FG% FTM FTA FT% 3PTM 3PTA 3PT% PTS REB AST STL BLK TO 22-23 ATL 70 6 14.9 2.3 4.6 49.1 0.7 1.1 62.8 0.4 1.5 28.8 5.6 4.0 1.2 0.5 0.5 0.6 21-22 ATL 22 5.5 1.0 1.9 53.7 0.2 0.3 71.4 0.1 0.6 23.1 2.4 1.2 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.4
ADP: N/A/N/A (Yahoo/ESPN) | Total Value: 242/228 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 297/275 (8/9-cat)
You could be forgiven for thinking that Jalen Johnson just completed his rookie year with the Hawks. In a sense, it practically was. The second-year forward averaged about five minutes in 22 appearances last year, which was astoundingly low for a first round pick. Needless to say, Johnson opened this past season as an unheralded member of the team. Fans became more acquainted with Johnson when he cracked the starting lineup for six games in early December, but he promptly faded to a sub-15 minute role after that point. In his small role with the team, Johnson did demonstrate impressive athleticism while making smart reads on both sides of the ball, but lacked the consistency and overall polish to have translated that into a more regular role.
Johnson’s per-36 averages suggest that he could be a limited fantasy asset in blocks, boards, field goal percentage and steals. Reaching those levels would likely require another developmental leap forward from Johnson and the removal of Collins as an obstacle to playing time. Nothing about his early career with the Hawks suggests that the organization will shake things up for his benefit, so it’s not likely that Johnson registers an ADP in fantasy drafts next season. Consider him a potential streamer or deep league asset unless he moves up in the rotation.Aaron HolidayPG, Atlanta Hawks
Season Team GP GS MPG FGM FGA FG% FTM FTA FT% 3PTM 3PTA 3PT% PTS REB AST STL BLK TO 22-23 ATL 63 6 13.4 1.5 3.5 41.8 0.4 0.5 84.4 0.6 1.4 40.9 3.9 1.2 1.4 0.6 0.2 0.6 21-22 PHO 62 14 15.9 2.4 5.2 46.1 0.9 1.0 86.2 0.6 1.5 40.0 6.3 1.9 2.4 0.7 0.1 1.1 20-21 IND 66 8 17.8 2.6 6.6 39.0 1.0 1.3 81.9 1.0 2.8 36.8 7.2 1.3 1.9 0.7 0.2 1.0
ADP: N/A/N/A (Yahoo/ESPN) | Total Value: 214/193 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 271/251 (8/9-cat))
When the season started, there were two Holidays on the Hawks. Fast forward to February and Aaron was left alone as his brother, Justin, was sent to the Mavs. That may have been the most consequential thing that happened with the youngest Holiday brother this season, as he was hardly called on as the third-string backup to two All-Star point guards. Holiday proved to be effective and a generally low-maintenance player in that role, which allowed him to have some staying power off the bench. As an efficient shooter from range with low turnovers and full-court defense, Holiday had some real value to the Hawks when spelling Murray and Young for stretches. The reality was simply that his services weren’t needed for long, so Holiday didn’t really have any noteworthy performances aside from a few spot starts throughout the season.
Next year, it’s unclear where Holiday will call home. He has proven capable of handling the point for teams in small stretches, so it’s likely that the 6-foot guard has found somewhere to settle by next training camp. Whether that means a return to the Hawks or moving elsewhere, it’s highly unlikely that Holiday finds himself in the sort of role that would validate any attention in most drafts.Garrison MathewsSG, Atlanta Hawks
Season Team GP GS MPG FGM FGA FG% FTM FTA FT% 3PTM 3PTA 3PT% PTS REB AST STL BLK TO 22-23 ATL 54 0 12.7 1.4 3.7 36.3 0.9 1.0 90.6 1.2 3.3 35.0 4.8 1.4 0.5 0.4 0.1 0.4 21-22 HOU 65 32 26.3 2.8 7.1 39.9 2.2 2.8 79.4 2.1 5.9 36.0 10.0 2.9 1.0 0.9 0.4 0.6 20-21 WAS 64 24 16.2 1.5 3.7 40.9 1.3 1.5 88.4 1.2 3.1 38.4 5.5 1.4 0.4 0.5 0.1 0.2
ADP: N/A/N/A (Yahoo/ESPN) | Total Value: 332/317 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 396/374 (8/9-cat)
Last season with the Rockets, Garrison Matthews proved that he could heat up quickly and really alter the flow of a game with heat check shots. Several stretches of impressive offensive play in Houston earned Matthews some acclaim that almost completely dissipated by the time the 2022-2023 season rolled around. This season, the Rockets had a bit more firepower on the perimeter and Matthews wasn’t able to have the same sort of freedom. Leading up to his mid-season trade from the Rockets to the Hawks, Matthews was operating as a third-string rotation player used sparingly for a bit of spacing. After joining the Hawks, he was used even more sparingly, if at all. Aside from posting 19 points with four treys in the last regular season game of the year, Matthews hardly made any impact with his new team. In case it wasn’t already clear: this isn’t the sort of player who should be on anyone’s draft board for the 2023-2024 season.Bruno FernandoC, Atlanta Hawks
Season Team GP GS MPG FGM FGA FG% FTM FTA FT% 3PTM 3PTA 3PT% PTS REB AST STL BLK TO 22-23 ATL 39 4 10.4 1.5 2.9 52.7 0.9 1.3 70.0 0.0 0.1 0.0 3.9 3.5 0.8 0.2 0.9 0.6 21-22 HOU 30 5.1 1.2 1.8 65.5 0.5 0.8 62.5 0.0 0.1 50.0 2.9 1.8 0.2 0.0 0.4 0.5 20-21 ATL 32 6.4 0.4 1.1 41.2 0.4 0.6 65.0 0.0 0.1 0.0 1.3 2.2 0.3 0.1 0.1 0.7
ADP: N/A/N/A (Yahoo/ESPN) | Total Value: 354/349 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 355/353 (8/9-cat)
Things started so well for Bruno Fernando. As a member of the Rockets, he notoriously got the starting nod over Alperen Sengun to start the year and had a solid debut with seven points, nine boards, seven assists and two blocks in his first game of the year. Between that debut performance and 19 points, 10 boards and a block to close out the season, Fernando didn’t offer much else to discuss. He became a Hawk as part of a mid-season trade and played eight games for the team. Over that period, more than half of his total playing time came on the last day of the regular season. That gives you an idea of his fantasy impact and the sort of attention he should be afforded in fantasy drafts ahead of the 2023-2024 season. In case it wasn’t clear: look elsewhere.Vít Krej?íSG, Atlanta Hawks
Season Team GP GS MPG FGM FGA FG% FTM FTA FT% 3PTM 3PTA 3PT% PTS REB AST STL BLK TO 22-23 ATL 29 0 5.7 0.5 1.3 40.5 0.0 0.1 50.0 0.2 0.7 23.8 1.2 0.9 0.6 0.2 0.0 0.2 21-22 OKC 29 7 22.4 2.1 5.2 40.7 0.7 0.8 86.4 1.0 3.1 33.3 5.9 3.4 1.9 0.7 0.3 1.0
ADP: N/A/N/A (Yahoo/ESPN) | Total Value: 455/456 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 512/503 (8/9-cat)
If his positional designations are proof of his value, then Vit Krejci must be one of the most useful players in the league. After all, he could be slotted in at every position but center this season. Not that you would do that, though. After all, it’s playing time and production that count in fantasy basketball. Krejci offered neither this season. It’s hard to project an NBA role for a player that has been used so sparingly across multiple seasons, so Krejci shouldn’t be a target ahead of the next season.Trent ForrestPG, Atlanta Hawks
Season Team GP GS MPG FGM FGA FG% FTM FTA FT% 3PTM 3PTA 3PT% PTS REB AST STL BLK TO 22-23 ATL 23 3 12.0 1.1 2.6 41.7 0.1 0.1 66.7 0.0 0.1 0.0 2.3 1.6 1.7 0.3 0.1 0.7 21-22 UTA 60 6 12.8 1.3 2.6 49.0 0.6 0.8 79.2 0.1 0.5 18.5 3.3 1.7 1.8 0.5 0.1 0.8 20-21 UTA 29 10.2 1.1 2.4 45.7 0.7 0.7 100.0 0.2 0.9 19.2 3.0 1.4 1.6 0.3 0.1 0.7
ADP: N/A/N/A (Yahoo/ESPN) | Total Value: 438/448 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 462/471(8/9-cat)
After spending last season with the Jazz, Trent Forrest may be more familiar with Snyder than most of his teammates. He had a considerable amount of appearances and playing time with his former team and current coach, but no such opportunity arose this time around. Almost all of Forrest’s total minutes this season came between late November and mid-December. In that small sample size, he did function well as a connector and smart positional defender but had a generally muted impact owing to limited shooting and generally passive offensive play. As he approaches age 25, it’s less likely that a team will bring Forrest into the fold as a developmental player, so he will need to find a niche sooner than later. He hasn’t found it yet and managers shouldn’t give Forrest the benefit of the doubt ahead of the 2023-2024 season.Tyrese MartinSG, Atlanta Hawks
Season Team GP GS MPG FGM FGA FG% FTM FTA FT% 3PTM 3PTA 3PT% PTS REB AST STL BLK TO 22-23 ATL 16 0 4.1 0.6 1.4 39.1 0.1 0.1 100.0 0.1 0.4 14.3 1.3 0.8 0.1 0.1 0.0 0.1
ADP: N/A/N/A (Yahoo/ESPN) | Total Value: 502/500 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 522/517 (8/9-cat)
Tyrese Martin was one of the last picks of the 2022 NBA Draft and has had an uphill battle as a result. Most of his season was spent in the G League, where the swingman proved himself to be a grinder on the boards that is capable of some offensive creation off the dribble. Martin entered the league with more polish than most rookies as a four-year college player and is therefore on a shorter developmental curve. His time to make an impact will be more limited and his role in the NBA is far from guaranteed as a late second round pick. If he can develop some momentum at 2023 Summer League, Martin may be a name worth following in deep or dynasty formats, but could hardly qualify for any consideration beyond that.Donovan MitchellSG, Cleveland Cavaliers
Season Team GP GS MPG FGM FGA FG% FTM FTA FT% 3PTM 3PTA 3PT% PTS REB AST STL BLK TO 22-23 CLE 68 68 35.5 10.0 20.6 48.4 4.7 5.4 86.7 3.6 9.3 38.6 28.3 4.3 4.4 1.5 0.4 2.6 21-22 UTA 67 67 33.8 9.2 20.5 44.8 4.0 4.7 85.3 3.5 9.8 35.5 25.9 4.2 5.3 1.5 0.2 3.0 20-21 UTA 53 53 33.4 9.0 20.6 43.8 5.0 6.0 84.5 3.4 8.7 38.6 26.4 4.4 5.2 1.0 0.3 2.8
ADP: N/A/N/A (Yahoo/ESPN) | Total Value: 529/524 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 528/520 (8/9-cat)
Even as a rookie, Donovan Williams is something of a journeyman in his young career. After playing with multiple college programs, the swingman went undrafted in 2022 and got his first chance with the Nets, who didn’t retain his services past training camp. Williams spent the next couple of months shopping for a new job until he wound up with the Hawks in January. Despite a lack of consistency in his developmental years, Williams does offer some upside as an explosive perimeter player that can get to the rim or do damage from deep. With the size and physicality of an NBA player, it isn’t hard to imagine how Williams could fit into a larger role in the league. However, that result is far from guaranteed. A productive offseason could be helpful in creating some career momentum for the 6’6” swingman but it will take more than that to put him on draft radars. Managers should wait for any sort of role to substantiate before they take a chance on the mostly-unproven prospect.
Consistency should be rewarded and that’s why my star might be a bit of a surprise. Murray and Young rightfully get most of the attention and Collins soaks up the rest. Each one dealt with inefficiency or inconsistency at points in the season and having them rostered was easier at some times than others. That was never true of Clint Capela at any point this season. The Swiss big is the fantasy star for the Hawks because he did exactly what he was expected to do on a game-to-game basis. The bonus is that he did it at a relative discount, as Capela’s ADP versus his final valuation proved that he was underrated coming into the 2022-2023 season. For the managers that seized on a buy low opportunity with Capela, the reward was mid-round production with potential matchup-altering contributions in multiple categories.
It’s got to be John Collins. The bar wasn’t set particularly high for him this season, relative to his own standards. Collins was known as an early-to-mid round producer, depending on the season. This time around, it was more of a mid-to-late round experience for a player entering their physical prime. His results were as inconsistent as his team’s were and Collins has surely earned his share of the blame for the Hawks’ up-and-down year. In between dud performances this year, Collins proved that he is still capable of filling the stat sheet with a well-rounded line that includes passable contributions of everything but assists and steals. It’s got to be frustrating for managers that drafted him for what he could be to see what he turned out to be, so there’s going to be a sizeable contingent of people hoping for him to get traded this offseason.
One to Watch
Their superstar point guard is ultimately what makes the Hawks worth watching but there’s nobody on this team that I am more personally invested in than Onyeka Okongwu. It’s not just bias that earned him this spot; he fits the bill regardless. Without the context that he is still very much a raw and developing player, Okongwu’s 2022-2023 results already measure well against his veteran peers. Despite limited playing time and only a small bag of tricks at his disposal, Okongwu was remarkably productive in his third NBA season. He’s one to watch because he’s a developing prospect that could be a real defensive game-changer but Okongwu gets bonus points because of how trades of either Capela or Collins could open up a greater opportunity that he seems primed to take advantage of.
One Burning Question
There’s talent at every position and in some cases it could be argued that there’s too much skill duplication, so the question is: who is this team really committed to? The 2022-2023 season proved that the Hawks may be less than the sum of their parts and it now falls to the organization to determine what parts to scrap, if any. It’s feasible that they run it back with the same core of players but it’s also feasible that history repeats itself and the team fails in familiar ways. Rebalancing the team will require asking tough questions about how a collection of offense-first swingmen fit alongside a lead guard that needs all the defensive help he can get. It will require the team to consider if Murray is really their starting shooting guard or a miscast second point guard, while the Hawks will also have to entertain questions about high-potential prospects like Griffin, Okongwu and the upcoming first round pick being stuck behind peers that the organization doesn’t seem to have the same level of investment in. Most of all, the Hawks will eventually need to confront the Collins trade rumors once and for all. The team has famously offered inconsistent support of their third star and for all parties involved, it would be best if that open question was finally settled. There are so many questions of who will fit where and how that it may be simplest to just say that the Hawks need to evaluate their priorities and let us know by their words or actions who they are truly committed to building around.
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