Hawks fans spent all summer with their heads in the clouds. Some of the players might have been right there with them. So you can imagine the come-down effect everyone is feeling as the team is 4-8 and riding a 5-game losing streak.
You’re not being unreasonable for expecting more from a young and hungry team. Fans were anticipating Rocky II, but so far, the season is looking like the start of Rocky III (R.I.P. Mickey). Effort and energy should always be there from the team. Given the Hawks malaise, there are plenty of hot takes flying around the basketball universe from hoops fans and media members alike. Here are the five most egregious ideas that can be discredited.
Clint Capela Is Washed
It’s unrealistic to believe a 27-year-old is already on a precipitous decline in athleticism. What’s undeniable is that Capela’s production is significantly lower compared to last season. Spending the offseason rehabilitating an Achilles procedure is the obvious cause for his lack of explosion. Leading up to his preseason debut, Capela was rightfully concerned about his conditioning. As long as he isn’t making the nagging injury worse, he’s going to have to play his way into shape. But no, he is still very much in the prime of his career.
Trae Young Struggling to Adjust
Through the first 12 games last season, Young averaged 23.1 points on 17.3 field goal attempts per game. This season, Young is averaging 24 points on 18.6 shots per game. Despite 50 fewer free throw attempts during that period, it seems like an easy transition to a new style of play. Also, he’s averaging fewer turnovers (3.7) than any point in his career. Not to mention, he leads the league in total assists (111) despite the team shooting a lower field goal percentage this season.
Cam Reddish Should Start
I’ve written a few times about the effect Reddish has on the Hawks fan base. He’s a young, exciting player with a high ceiling. But his performances on a nightly basis are as volatile as cryptocurrency. Coach McMillan is putting Reddish in a position to succeed by coming off the bench. The 22-year-old is averaging career highs in points (12.3) and true shooting percentage (54.5 TS%). Currently, he’s sixth in the league in total points (118) from players coming off the bench.
Delon Wright & Lou Williams Can’t Co-Exist
The debate surrounding the backup point guard position often falls into an either-or argument. Right now, both Wright and Williams are underperforming. But rotations are not static in the NBA, and they fluctuate on a nightly basis. So getting worked up over who comes off the bench first seems like much to do about nothing. Like when Twitter nerds dunk on each other over who broke news first, Wojs or Shams (I’m Team Shams by the way).
Need More Outside Shooting
Quantity isn’t the issue with the Hawks three-pointers. Instead, it’s quality. Last season, the Hawks took 33.4 3-pointers per game, compared to 31.8 attempts now. So 1.6 fewer threes per game is negligible.
What’s concerning is the team’s percentage is down from 37.3% to 36.6%. More specifically, the Hawks are struggling with contested shots. When wide open (6+ feet from the closest defender), the Hawks are shooting a league-best 44.1%. However, when tightly guarded (2-4 feet from the closest defender), they post a league-worst 11.4%.
It’s way too early even to consider hitting the panic button. Once the team starts having players-only meetings and throwing soup at one another, then we can panic. The Hawks finish their grueling west coast road trip on Friday night against the Denver Nuggets. Stay locked into AllHawks.com for breaking news and analysis for your Atlanta Hawks.