A lot has transpired with the Atlanta Hawks since our last mailbag article in July. But after a painfully long offseason, we finally get to see the revamped roster play this week. I'm writing this at 5:45 a.m. eastern with a cup of coffee on my desk and Pusha T playing in my headphones. It's officially basketball season.
With the current stance from the front office and Nate. How many minutes will Trae Young and Dejounte Murray play together?
Last season, Young averaged 34.9 minutes, and Murray averaged 34.8 minutes per game. So there is going to be a lot of overlap between the two point guards, at least 25-30 minutes per game. Murray was brought in to play with Young.
With Onyeka Okongwu showing more of a jumper in his arsenal, how soon will he replace Capela as a starter?
While I believe Okongwu is the team's center of the future, I don't think his usurping of Capela's starting spot is imminent. Capela is still the better rebounder and rim protector (for now).
Is Hunter the true key to how far this team will go? If he plays at the level we saw in his last game last year, I can't imagine any team better than the Hawks. But if he's the hurt, inconsistent guy we know, the Hawks might be the 6th seed at best.
I think the biggest factor in the team's success will be the fit between Young and Murray (very confident it will work). Hunter is the biggest X-factor. He could be playing for a new contract and coming off his first healthy summer in two years.
To your second point, the Eastern Conference is going to be tough. The Hawks could have a significantly better regular season and still end up without homecourt advantage in the first round.
What role will Jalen Johnson have in this lineup?
After the Moe Harkless trade, Johnson is the de facto backup power forward. Coach McMillan has repeatedly said that Johnson will get playing time this season. My guess is between 10-15 minutes per game.
Nate is committed to letting rookies cut their teeth and become more than glorified College Park Skyhawks, right? Right?
I don't think AJ Griffin or Tyrese Martin will be in the rotation for most of the season. If it's any consolation, both are on full NBA contracts and will not play for the Skyhawks.
Do you think the Hawks can make any moves, or is the roster set now?
The only roster moves that will happen in the near future will be cuts. The team has to chisel its training camp roster from 20 to 15 by Opening Night. To your larger point, the Hawks have flexibility. I think the front office will give this team until the trade deadline to prove itself.
Do you think Bogdan Bogdanovic will last the entire season, or will he be traded due to lingering injuries?
Once Bogdanovic gets back on the floor, he will be a valuable part of the second unit. It would be surprising if he gets traded during the 2022-23 season.
If we got a superstar, how do you think we would get one? Free agency, drafting and developing, trading, etc.
If the team wanted to acquire another superstar (in addition to Young and Murray), it would have to be executed through a trade. The Hawks' draft capital is depleted, and the salary cap does not have room for another large contract without moving off some other players.
Are you concerned about Jalen Johnson always being nicked up? We need to add a big vet wing. Perhaps Solomon Hill.
I'm not concerned about Johnson's injury history yet. Also, I think Justin Holiday will be a great veteran wing player.
In your opinion, what player would you realistically trade for/acquire to make the Hawks more of a contender?
If I were the general manager, I would upgrade the small forward spot because the backcourt is great, and the frontcourt is solid. Perhaps OG Anunoby or Kyle Kuzma (Kuzma is more of a 4 but can play the 3). But luckily for us, the front office is better at this than I am.
I feel expectations for the Hawks are sky high among fans with the addition of Murray and retaining John Collins. In your opinion, what are realistic expectations for the season, given how competitive the Eastern Conference has grown?
Recently, I wrote an article where I stated five realistic team goals. It's not unreasonable to believe this team wins 50 games and secures homecourt advantage for the first round.
Do we reach the Eastern Conference Finals with this current roster, or nah?
It's certainly possible. This team is way better than the 2020-21 squad. It all comes down to health and matchups in April/May.
Has John Collins' finger healed?
Yes, Collins' finger is healed. It's just going to "look crazy" (Landry Fields words). Even better, Collins has said it does not impact his shooting mechanics or playstyle at all.
AJ Griffin? Does he really love basketball?
Yeah, for sure. I saw him on the practice court this week, and he seemed ecstatic.
Are we really getting those Statement jerseys because they're still yet to be announced/on the website?
So, the Statement jerseys are the black jerseys with the yellow Jumpman logo (seen above). Nike makes it unnecessarily confusing with the names of uniforms. The 2022-23 City Edition uniforms just have not been announced yet.
What’s going on with the City/Throwback uniforms?
Last year, the Hawks unveiled the 2021-22 City Edition uniforms on November 1. We are on a similar timeline this year for the 2022-23 City Edition jerseys, which are black/peach. Several NBA teams are getting throwback uniforms this year, but I don't think the Hawks are one of them.
Your favorite current Hawks Jerseys?
My favorite *current* Hawks jersey is the Statement (black) jersey. They are bold and pretty unique (even though they borrow elements from the old Knicks jerseys, according to the creator of almost all the 90s NBA uniforms - Tom O'Grady).
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