The Hawks have assembled a roster that could be a surprise force in the East when the playoffs start, writes Chris Kirschner of The Athletic. General manager Travis Schlenk focused on adding shooting over the offseason, signing Bogdan Bogdanovic as a free agent and trading for Danilo Gallinari and Tony Snell.
Atlanta made a powerful impression on the Suns this week, putting up 135 points in a 32-point victory.
“They have a lot of guys who can knock down shots, but not just 3-point shots,” Phoenix coach Monty Williams said. “Bogdanovic and Trae (Young) are two guys who can get into the paint and make shots creating off the dribble. (Clint) Capela has been huge for them. He generates offense diving and gets extra possessions. His defense covers up a lot of the mistakes that the guards can make. Gallinari is a versatile scorer. They’re deep. They look like a playoff team. They look like they’re getting into playoff shape. I don’t think many teams want to play them if they’re going to continue to shoot the ball like that.”
There’s more on the Hawks:
- Lottery pick Onyeka Okongwu hasn’t been impactful during his rookie season, playing just 11.6 minutes per night and averaging 4.2 points and 3.0 rebounds, but he’s turned in some recent performances that may cause coach Nate McMillan to consider him for the postseason rotation, Kirschner adds. One of those came against the Suns, when he had 14 points and seven rebounds off the bench. “A young guy like that, he seems to get better each time he steps on the floor,” McMillan said. “… As long as he continues to play like that and show growth, he’ll get minutes. This year is basically a year for him to get his feet wet and get out there and just play.”
- De’Andre Hunter continues to make progress toward returning from an injured right knee, tweets Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was able to play five-on-five today, and the team will wait to see how his knee responds Sunday before planning his next step.
- Former Hawks guard Rajon Rondo praised the organization this week for how it handled his trade to the Clippers, relays KL Chouinard of NBA.com (Twitter link). “Travis (Schlenk) and I talked a couple of days before and that morning as well,” Rondo said on a TNT interview. “We had a conversation. It was a pleasant one, and one that I never had in my entire career. Big ups to the Hawks organization. I wish those guys well.”