With the 2018-19 NBA season quickly approaching, we're rolling out 30 Teams in 30 Days. Between now and opening night, we're dedicating one day to each team in the league.
After looking at Orlando, Washington, Miami and Charlotte, we're closing out the Southeast Division with the Atlanta Hawks.
2017-18 season record
24-58 (last in Eastern Conference)
Projected 2018-19 season record
23.5 wins (last in Eastern Conference)
Lloyd Pierce (head coach)
Vince Carter (free agency)
Jeremy Lin (trade)
Trae Young (draft)
Dennis Schröder (trade)
3 key storylines
Lloyd Pierce's new system
After spending five seasons as an assistant with the Philadelphia 76ers, Lloyd Pierce was hired as the Hawks head coach on May 11, 2018. During his time with the Sixers, Pierce was credited with much of the offensive developments made by the team; he now brings this expertise to Atlanta.
In the era of pace and space, Pierce is the ideal head coach to implement an offence for a team in the process of a rebuild like the Hawks are. The team has even gone so far to install a 4-point line in its practice facility.
As a result of Pierce's hiring, the Hawks' talented young core should greatly benefit, especially perimeter players like Young, Deandre' Bembry, Kevin Heurter and Taurean Prince.
The impact of Trae Young as a rookie
It's no secret that Young is by far one of the most intriguing members of this year's rookie class. After a history-making freshman season at Oklahoma in which he led the NCAA in both scoring and assists, the 20-year-old has embarked on a new challenge in entering the NBA.
As his numbers indicate, Young brings high-level passing and shooting ability to the table. As with all rookies, however, there will be a steep learning curve for Young as he adapts to the NBA game.
While the Hawks' point guard of the future has struggled with inefficiency in Summer League action as well as the preseason, he is far too talented to not figure things out. Young could conceivable have an inverse of a rookie wall, hitting a point where the game slows down for him and he drastically improves to close the season.
Breakout seasons for John Collins and Taurean Prince
The 2018-19 season should mean big things for Prince, who is the scoring leader among all returning Hawks players, and Collins (selected No. 19), who is by far one of the biggest steals in the 2017 draft.
In 2017-18, Prince appeared in all 82 games, averaging 14.1 points and shooting 38.5 percent from deep to sink a team-high 176 3-pointers. The hiring of head coach Lloyd Pierce and his emphasis on pace, space and shooting should be very beneficial for Prince's game in his third season.
Collins, the first Hawk to be named to an All-Rookie team since Al Horford in 2008, averaged 10.5 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 24.1 minutes per game in his rookie campaign, but he started in just 26 of the 74 games he appeared in. As an assumed full-time starter with one year of experience under his belt, a high-level passer at point guard and a developing 3-point stroke, Collins is primed for another big leap in year two.
5 games to watch
Oct. 21 vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
Two elite rookie point guards go head-to-head.
Leading up to the 2018 NBA Draft, Trae Young and Collin Sexton were typically regarded as the top two point guard prospects in the class. After squaring off once during their college careers, the two will play for the first of three times in 2018-19 during the first week of the season.
Oct. 24 vs. Dallas Mavericks
On draft night, the Hawks traded No. 3 overall pick Luka Dončić to the Mavericks in exchange for No. 5 overall pick Trae Young, meaning the two rookies will likely be linked to one another throughout the duration of their careers.
Dončić and the Mavs travel to Atlanta for the home opener of the newly-renovated State Farm Arena, where the Hawks look to get things started on a positive note. Last season, the Hawks swept the season series against the Mavericks with two close wins.
Nov. 13 vs. Golden State Warriors
An idol becomes a rival.
Trae Young's size and style of play during his college career drew plenty of parallels to the Warriors' two-time MVP Stephen Curry, and the rookie will get his first opportunity to play against Curry when Atlanta travels to The Bay less than one month into the regular season.
Though Atlanta dropped both games to Golden State last season, Taurean Prince and John Collins delivered solid performances against the defending champs; expect the same from the two young players this season.
Jan. 8 vs. Toronto Raptors
This one's all about Vince Carter.
Entering his 21st season, plenty of signs indicate that the 2018-19 season could be Carter's last. If that's the case, this Jan. 8 matchup at Toronto's Scotiabank Arena would be the last time the eight-time NBA All-Star suits up in front of the city he once called home.
After all that Carter has done for the Raptors franchise, as well as basketball in Canada as a whole, expect a proper send off from the fans of Toronto.
Feb. 25 vs. Houston Rockets
Can Trae Young and John Collins be the next Chris Paul and Clint Capela? It's far too early to tell, but the two seem to be developing plenty of chemistry on the floor based on the lobs Young has sent to Collins in the preseason.
Don't sleep on us 🤫🤫#TrueToAtlanta pic.twitter.com/icTUx1XRzs- Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) October 2, 2018
The young duo will take on the established duo for the first of two times when Atlanta travels to the Toyota Center in late February.