Atlanta Hawks

2020-21 NBA Season Preview: Will the Atlanta Hawks busy offseason lead to a playoff berth?

The 2020-21 NBA season is set to tip-off on Dec. 23. To get you ready for the year to come, we'll be dedicating one day between now and the start of the season to each team in the league.

Today, the Atlanta Hawks take the spotlight.

2019-20 season record

20-47, 14th in the Eastern Conference

Watch live games on your favourite device with NBA League Pass!

Notable additions

Onyeka Okongwu, No. 6 overall pick in 2020 NBA Draft

Skylar Mays, No. 50 overall pick in 2020 NBA Draft

Nathan Knight, Undrafted free agent (two-way)

Tony Snell, Trade

Kris Dunn, Free agency

Danilo Gallinari, Free agency

Rajon Rondo, Free agency

Bogdan Bogdanovic, Free Agency

Notable departures

Vince Carter, Retirement

Dewayne Dedmon, Trade

DeAndre' Bembry, Free agency

Jeff Teague, Free agency

Depth chart

Starter Second Third
PG Trae Young Rajon Rondo Kris Dunn
SG Bogdan Bogdanovic Kevin Huerter Tony Snell
SF Danilo Gallinari De'Andre Hunter Cam Reddish
PF John Collins Bruno Fernando
C Clint Capela Onyeka Okongwu Nathan Knight

3 key storylines

A superstar leap for Trae?

In just two short seasons, Trae Young has shown why the Hawks motioned to acquire him on draft night in 2018.

After earning All-Rookie selections in his first season, Young made the All-Star leap in Year 2, finishing the season with averages of 29.6 points and 9.3 assists over 60 games, good for fourth and second in the league, respectively.

Now, ahead of Year 3, the 22-year-old is on the cusp of superstardom.

To be clear, superstar status isn't easy to attain. This past year, we witnessed the likes of Luka Doncic and Jayson Tatum emerge into that stratosphere, doing so with their consistency on big stages, putting forth performances that placed them within the top 10 of NBA.com's player rankings.

Is that a realistic next step for Young?

Considering that he was already considered one of the league's top 24 talents in being selected to the All-Star stage, Young's next step is to clearly establish himself as a top-five point guard in the league. Based on the premise that Doncic and LeBron James are point guards, in addition to Stephen Curry, Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard, Kyle Lowry and Russell Westbrook, Young's still got his work cut out for him.

During the Hawks' extended offseason, Young told Mark Medina of USA Today that his main goal this year is "doing whatever I need to do to get us over the top and get into the playoffs." While Young has thrived as a shooter and a passer, the ongoing knock on his game is his ability to contribute on the defensive end, to which he told Medina he is working on his conditioning in order to improve.

Young doesn't need to become an All-Defensive Team candidate to enter superstar territory but a marked improvement would lead Atlanta to more wins. More wins increase the likelihood of Young playing on the bigger stage, which, as we learn year after year, is where superstars are born.

The prospect of another tangible leap from Young should have Hawks fans very excited.

What to expect from the new additions

While it has a number of the same core pieces, this Hawks team will look much different than It did to close the 2019-20 season.

In addition to Clint Capela, who did not play a game with the team after being acquired near the trade deadline, the team has added a rookie big man in Onyeka Okongwu as well as free agents Danilo Gallinari, Rajon Rondo, Kris Dunn, and Bogdan Bogdanovic.

Safe to say that Atlanta has made the most of the cap room it entered the offseason with, and then some.

Capela, 26, has posted averages of 14.9 points and 12.2 rebounds on 64.5% shooting over the last three seasons (180 games). In Atlanta, he has an opportunity to form a scary lob duo with Young, who already has a terrifying lob target in the high-flying John Collins.

Young's ability to find Capela as a roll man is something NBA.com's Scott Rafferty highlighted back when Atlanta initially acquired the big man.

Gallinari is coming off of a season in which he averaged 18.7 points while shooting 40.5% from deep and Rondo, the other big-time veteran addition, played an integral role in the Lakers title run. Dunn is an elite on-ball defender and Okongwu has the potential to be an elite rim protector while he's still raw offensively.

Bogdanovic provides headiness and clutch scoring as a veteran that is wise beyond his years, fulfilling a major need.

What will be interesting to see is how these new additions fit within a roster that already features plenty of wing talent in Kevin Huerter, De'Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish. On the interior, there's Collins, who is eligible to sign an extension and averaged 21.6 points and 10.1 rebounds last season.

On paper, this is the most talented Hawks team in years, one that has made offseason moves with the clear goal of ending a playoff drought.

A breakout year for Reddish?

In Young (29.6 points and 9.3 assists per game) and Collins (21.6 points and 10.1 rebounds per game), Atlanta has one of the most exciting young 1-2 punches that the league has to offer.

With the 1-2 punch in place, the question is: Who will be No. 3? One of Bogdanovic or Gallinari would seem to be the logical answer - and one of the two likely will be this upcoming season - but you shouldn't lose sight of the talented wings that the Hawks have acquired over the past few drafts.

While both Huerter and Hunter showed consistency throughout last season, it's Reddish that could surprise many by making a leap and emerging as Atlanta's third star of the future.

Some might have given up on the 21-year-old after he averaged 10.5 points per game while shooting 38.4% from the field and 33.2% from deep in his rookie campaign but those numbers don't come close to telling the full story.

Reddish entered the 2019-20 season coming off of an offseason core muscle surgery and, judging by his rough start to the season, it was an operation that took time to recover from. The numbers illustrate the story very clearly:

Cam Reddish: A tale of two seasons
MIN FG% 3P% FT% REB AST PTS
First 34 games 25.7 .322 .256 .765 3.9 1.6 8.0
Final 23 games 28.3 .458 .419 .845 3.5 1.4 14.3

Reddish's strong finish to the season has generated some buzz, and rightly so. The 6-foot-8 forward has shown that he's got the tools to be an impactful player in this league. With the offseason additions Atlanta has made, there's less pressure on Reddish to figure it all out this upcoming season.

While the playmaking of Young and Rondo will help make the game easier for him, the other wing options on the Hawks roster mean defences can't truly key in on him, as they are all scoring threats.

Don't be surprised if Reddish becomes a sixth starter that wreaks havoc on the defences of second units, which could be a sign of things to come down the line in his career.

5 games to watch

Memphis Grizzlies, Dec. 26, 2020 (ET)

Young and Collins vs. Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. Two of the most exciting young duos in the league are sure to provide plenty of highlights as they go head-to-head.

Charlotte Hornets, Jan. 6, 2021 (ET)

These two divisional opponents have undergone transformative offseasons. We'll get our first look at what should be a very entertaining point guard matchup between Young and LaMelo Ball.

Dallas Mavericks, Feb. 3, 2021 (ET)

Right or wrong, Young and Luka Doncic will forever be linked to one another. As it features two of the league's brightest young stars, you always have to tune in to at least one of two meetings between the Hawks and Mavs.

Orlando Magic, Mar. 3, 2021 (ET)

The Magic were one of the final playoff teams in the East last season and are likely to be in contention with the Hawks for a playoff spot again this season. There will definitely be a little extra in each matchup between these teams this upcoming season.

Golden State Warriors, Date: TBD (Second half of season)

Since his days at the University of Oklahoma and even before, Young has been compared to Stephen Curry. How quickly an idol can become a rival. Now that Young looks to establish himself among the upper echelon of point guards in the league, his matchups with Curry will be a great measuring stick.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.

More from NBA.com

#Tatum
Clutch triple from Tatum lifts Celtics
Kane Pitman
#George
PG, Clippers peaking at the right time
Benyam Kidane
#Huerter
#NBATopShotThis: Huerter's buzzer-beating TD layup
#Simmons
Simmons stakes claim for DPOY
Kane Pitman
paul-durant-tatum-nbae-gettyimages
Highlights and top performers from Wednesday’s action
NBA.com Staff
nba-plain--674ffa98-20a9-4790-9fe2-be711e51143e.jpeg
Murray out indefinitely with torn ACL
Scott Rafferty
More News