The Atlanta Hawks (17-24) are on a four-game losing streak and are now a season-worst seven games below .500.
They fell to the Miami Heat on Friday:
Final from Miami. pic.twitter.com/mJD4l1MPuj
— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) January 15, 2022
They have already sent Cam Reddish to the New York Knicks in a trade.
It seems like the Hawks could be sellers.
Atlanta may already be regretting not drafting Luka Dončić.
Unfortunately, John Collins may be making his exit as well.
The Mavericks are considering trading for the Collins.
He and Trae Young just have not been a great one-two punch in Atlanta.
It sure has been a disappointing start to the 2021-22 season after a 41-31 regular season last year.
The 2021 playoffs were pretty impressive for the Hawks, as they made it to the Eastern Conference Finals.
However, they fell to the eventual champion Milwaukee Bucks.
Nate McMillan is back after assuming the head coaching duties midseason last year.
The former Hawks assistant coach needs to see improvement soon or he could be on the hot seat by season’s end.
McMillan has only lost more than 45 games twice in his long head coaching career.
The 2021-22 Hawks are on pace for a whopping 48 losses.
So, what are the top three reasons that the Hawks have regressed?
3. Their Defense Is Abominable
The Hawks have the second-best offense in the league, but they are the third-worst defensive squad this season.
Atlanta is among the worst 10 teams in 3-point percentage allowed (35.9 percent).
The team is allowing 54.2 percent effective field goal percentage, which ranks 26th in the league.
All of these defensive markers show that Atlanta could be in for a bad season.
A bright spot is that the Hawks are winning the free throw battle though:
- Offense: attempting 21.5 free throws per game (ranked 12th in the NBA)
- Defense: allowing 18.7 free throw attempts per game (third)
Maybe Young and the Hawks can build on this, but they have to prevent opposing offenses from shooting so well.
2. Trae Young Has Decreased Free Throw Attempts
While the Hawks are winning the free throw battle, it is in spite of a free throw regression from Young:
- 2018-19: 5.1 free throw attempts per game (6.0 per 36 minutes)
- 2019-20: 9.3 attempts (9.5)
- 2020-21: 8.7 attempts (9.2)
- 2021-22: 6.8 attempts (7.0)
This is unfortunate after Young led the NBA in free throw makes last season with 484.
His 225 makes this season rank fifth in the league, so it is not a huge downgrade.
Unfortunately, the NBA’s new foul rules for this season have affected Young in some ways.
He has had to take on a bigger burden this season though.
Young is on pace for a career-high usage rate, so we will have to see if he finishes with a career-high in points this season.
He is on pace to do so with 27.6 points per game with a career-high assist percentage of 47.7.
The ceiling though may not be as high for Young with the reduced free throw rate, which is on pace to be a career-low.
1. The Hawks May Not Have Enough Talent
Other than Young and Collins, the Hawks have a lot of role players who score just above 11 points per game:
- Bogdan Bogdanović: 12.0 points per game
- Cam Reddish (traded to New York): 11.9
- Clint Capela: 11.8
- De’Andre Hunter: 11.8
- Kevin Huerter: 11.4
The Hawks may know what their situation is.
They may be folding early this season with Reddish already being sent elsewhere.
If Clint Capela’s ankle injury is a nagging one or he gets injured again, Atlanta’s depth will be almost gone.
He had a top-10 defensive rating last year, but he is not the same this year.
If the Hawks decide to move on from Collins, we will know for sure the team’s future plans: rebuilding.