Two weeks from tomorrow is the first day of NBA training camps. Every season teams fall into two categories: tanking or winning. It feels good to say the Hawks remain among the league's upper echelon that is seeking to win now.
To prove the playoff run was no fluke, every player on the roster will need to improve upon their performance from last season. Here is one individual goal for every Atlanta Hawks player.
Reduce turnovers. Young turned the ball over 4.1 times per game last season, which was 4th most in the league. Obviously, Young has a high usage rate, but he has a rock-solid case for an All-NBA team if he can cut down on the turnovers.
The league-leading rebounder is coming off a career year. If Capela can produce at a similar level to last season, then improving his free throw shooting would be icing on the cake. The big man shot the second-most free-throw attempts on the team but was last in percentage (57.3%).
The addition of Capela last season hurt Collins' offensive numbers, but he still played with an indispensable energy level. One area where Collins can improve is rebounding. His 7.4 rebounds per game last season was a significant drop-off from the previous two seasons.
Like Capela, coming to Atlanta did wonders for Bogdanovic. It's hard to find an area for him to improve. I would like to see 'Bogi' take on an even bigger role in the offense and shoot for 20 points per game this season.
It looks like Huerter will not receive a contract extension until after the season (similar to the John Collins situation last year). 'Red Velvet' showed tremendous progress last season despite coming off the bench more. If Huerter (and Coach McMillan) were cool with him taking Jordan Clarkson levels of shots, then 'K'Von' could start setting his sights on a Sixth Man of the Year trophy in the future.
De'Andre Hunter & Cam Reddish
The best ability is availability. Unfortunately, both of the Hawks 2019 first-rounders have missed significant time due to injuries. If they can stay healthy, then the sky is the limit for the dynamic wings. Playing in 70+ games should be the goal for both Hunter and Reddish.
At 32-years-old, 'Gallo' can still fill it up from outside. But he's also the second-most expensive player on the Hawks books for the 21-22 season. So to avoid annoying trade rumors, the veteran forward must increase his offensive production. Last year he averaged his fewest points per game (13.3) since his rookie season.
Gorgui Dieng & Delon Wright
The Hawks brought in the veteran journeymen to reinforce the second unit. Dieng and Wright must make a concerted effort at improving Atlanta's mediocre defense. Both players have to keep their DWS (Defensive Win Share) and DBPM (Defensive Box Plus/Minus) in the positive category yet again.
The ever-reliable sixth man is getting older, but he can still take over a game with his slippery offensive attack (ask the Milwaukee Bucks about Game 4). But he was the Hawks worst defender by most metrics last season. For Williams to compete with Wright and Huerter for minutes, he needs to improve his defense. Or continue going off for 20+ points in big games, which he's done since he was Allen Iverson's rookie.
Unlike most of the Hawks roster, defense isn't Hill's problem. It would be nice for him to start adding to his offensive bag. An increase in shooting percentages is a must for Hill this season.
Jalen Johnson & Sharife Cooper
The two rookies showed out in Las Vegas. But NBA Summer league is where you find out who can't play, not who can play. Cooper will get plenty of reps in College Park, and hopefully, we get to see Johnson on the court at State Farm Arena some this season. Both youngsters should focus on learning as much as possible from players and coaches this first season.
The Hawks recently signed Mays to another two-way contract. We know Mays is a microwave, so the combo-guard should add to his game by further improving his defensive skillset.
Just last week, the Hawks signed Luwawu-Cabarrot to a 1-year, non-guaranteed contract. Expectations aren't sky-high, he just needs to bring his patented hustle every day, and the Hawks could convert that contract to a guaranteed deal (like Solomon Hill last season).
Okongwu will miss a sizable portion of the season while recovering from shoulder surgery. After that, it will take him some time to shake the rust off. Okongwu's goal for the 21-22 season should be to play more crucial minutes when the 2022 NBA Playoffs roll around.
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