The Atlanta Hawks had a shocking run to the Eastern Conference Finals and fell in six games to the eventual NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks. The Hawks had a somewhat quiet offseason with their moves being re-signing star forward John Collins, backup guard Lou Williams, trading for point guard Delon Wright, signing center Gorgui Dieng, and drafting Jalen Johnson and Sharife Cooper. Trae Young took a big step forward in the playoffs and he earned himself a max contract in the process.
Young is one of the bright stars in the NBA and is only going to get better as he gets older. The big question facing the Hawks now is if they can replicate last season’s playoff success and show that it was not just a fluke. This is a big season for the Hawks young core because they are not going to be able to keep all of these guys and one underlying storyline to the season is the Hawks using the 2021-2022 season to figure out which guys they want to keep going forward.
There are a few questions that the Hawks are going to have to answer this season. Are they actual contenders? Is Young an MVP candidate? Will the Hawks regret signing Collins to a big extension? Are the Hawks a top-four team in the Eastern Conference? We’ve got you covered with our fact or fiction series. It features the boldest and biggest claims being made about the Hawks and offers you the answer with a decisive fact or fiction.
Make sure to check out all of our other Fact or Fiction articles.
The Hawks are Legitimate Contenders
This can be a tough question to answer. Whenever you say a certain team is not a contender, it gets interpreted as meaning the team is not that good. The number of true title contenders in the NBA can be counted on one hand.
When you look at the Eastern Conference, there are some good teams that the Hawks will have to contend with. The Brooklyn Nets are loaded from top to bottom. The Bucks are the defending champs and have one of the best players in the world in Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Miami Heat just signed Kyle Lowry to add to their core and the Philadelphia 76ers have a talented roster as well.
In the Western Conference, the Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns, and Golden State Warriors are probably in a better position than the Hawks. The Hawks have a talented and young roster. Everyone that follows basketball knows this. However, this isn’t a team that is ready to win the NBA title. That statement will change in the next couple of years, that is something that you can count on.
Verdict: Fiction, the Hawks are not Legitimate Contenders
Trae Young is an MVP Candidate
The only players that might have had a better postseason run than Young are Kevin Durant, Antetokounmpo, and Devin Booker. That’s the list. Young had a run for the ages and he has Hawks fans excited for what the future holds. Young has been one of the most polarizing players in the NBA ever since he was drafted. He is often criticized for his shortcomings on the defensive side of the game and for taking some ill-advised three-point attempts. However, what Young showed in last season’s playoffs was that he is one of the best playmakers in the NBA and can elevate the play of those around him.
Hawks fans will tell you that is the guy he has been all along and they would be right. The rest of the league is well aware now. There is no shortage of MVP candidates in the NBA. The Nets have three on their team alone and the Lakers might have a pair in LeBron James and Anthony Davis. There is the reigning MVP in Denver in Nikola Jokic and Antetokounmpo is in Milwaukee and has won two of the past three. If Young can guide the Hawks to a top-four seed in the Eastern Conference and approach 50 wins this season, that should put him firmly in the MVP race.
Verdict: Fact, Trae Young will be an MVP Candidate
The Hawks will Regret the John Collins Extension
The Hawks made one of the bigger moves in what was a pretty quiet offseason around the NBA. Collins signed a five-year, $125 million contract, with a player option for the fifth year, and seemingly locked up his future in Atlanta. It was speculated about how much Collins was worth, but he showed it in the Hawks playoff run.
Collins is a player who has improved in every season since he was drafted in 2017. During his rookie season, Collins was mostly just an offensive threat and athlete. Once Young was brought on the team, Collins’s versatile skill set showed. Young and Collins quickly became one of the top pick and roll duos in the NBA and remain so today. Where Collins has shown the most improvement is on the defensive end. Collins has gone from being a poor defender to a very good one.
The Hawks playoff run could not have happened without Collins and his ability to do the things he does. He sacrificed a lot of touches and was seemingly happy to do so. There was nobody to replace Collins in the short term and he is a young player that is still learning and growing. It was a smart move for the Hawks to bring him back.
Verdict: Fiction, the Hawks will not Regret the John Collins extension
The Hawks will be a Top-Four Team in the Eastern Conference
The Hawks came close to being a top-four seed in the Eastern Conference this past season. Instead, they ended up finishing fifth, just behind the New York Knicks. Competition in the East is going to be fierce this season with several teams vying for a top-four finish. The Nets are the favorite in the Eastern Conference and rightfully so. The Bucks are the defending champs and looking to repeat. Meanwhile, the Heat and 76ers are going to be motivated after disappointing playoff exits.
The Knicks made some offseason moves to stay in the hunt and the Boston Celtics have a great duo in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. There is no shortage of teams the Hawks are going to have to fend off for a top-four spot. It is safe to say barring injuries, the Nets and Bucks will be the top two seeds and then the competition starts. After their offseason moves and because of their existing talent, it’s fair to put the Heat in the third spot by a small margin.
The fourth spot is for the Hawks to lose and they get the edge over the 76ers because the Hawks beat this same Philadelphia team last season and Atlanta did not have De’Andre Hunter or Cam Reddish for that series. It won’t be easy, but the Hawks will be a top-four team in the Eastern Conference this upcoming season after their moves this offseason.
Verdict: Fact, the Hawks will be a Top-Four Team in the Eastern Conference
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