Throughout the entire offseason, Hawks fans have dreamed big about the possibilities for this team. While I agree that the ceiling is the roof, the team must continue building brick by brick without skipping steps.
With eight days until the start of training camp, here are the top eight team goals for the Atlanta Hawks to reach success this season.
Get Off to Fast Start
Last season the Hawks won its first three games before losing 16 of the next 26 games. Injuries were largely to blame for the slow start, but the team can't afford to bury itself in the fall only to catch fire in the spring again. That might have worked for the 2003 Lakers, but the Hawks can't flip the switch like that every season.
Find Playing Time for Rookies
It's going to be difficult for the rookies to crack the rotation. We already know that Sharife Cooper will spend most of his time in College Park with the Skyhawks. But for long-term success, the goal should be for Cooper and first-round draft pick Jalen Johnson to get at least 750 minutes on the court with the Hawks.
Elevate Role Players
As much as I would like to witness Trae Young go off for an MVP-caliber season, it's more important for the team to remain well-balanced. The Hawks depth is their greatest strength. That's why they beat the Bucks in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals while Young was in street clothes.
Top Third of the League in Defense
Television personalities will lead you to believe the Hawks will never win anything because of Young's defense. Except that the team already has a very mediocre defense by almost every metric (defensive rating, opponent points, opponent field goal percentage, contested shots - you name it.) If the Hawks defense can match their offensive and rebounding output, then they go from lovable underdog to looming menace.
Win Season Series Against 76ers, Bucks, Nets
The Hawks play every Eastern Conference team four times, except for the Brooklyn Nets, Milwaukee Bucks, Detroit Pistons, and Philadelphia 76ers, which they will only face three times. Another step towards sustained success would mean winning important, regular season games against your conference foes and title contenders.
Of course, every hoops fan wishes for their team to stay healthy. But the Hawks were especially ravaged by injuries last season. If Bogdan Bogdanovic, De'Andre Hunter, and Cam Reddish can all play 70+ games, then the next goal should be cake.
Win 50+ games
Reaching this goal would mean the Hawks easily won the Southeast Divison again and locked up home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Legendary Hawks announcer Bob Rathbun told me this was one of his goals for the team this upcoming season as well.
Return to East Conference Finals
With the NBA Champion Milwaukee Bucks and the Brooklyn Nets superteam running it back, returning to the Eastern Conference Finals is a lofty goal for the Hawks. Unless the team trades some of its young core to bring in an All-Star, this is the most fans can hope for right now. That's not bad at all for such a young team compared to the rest of the conference.
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