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Scouting the Enemy: Atlanta Hawks

One fresh start. One graceful exit.

2019 Las Vegas Summer League - Day 2 Photo by Cassy Athena/Getty Images

Over the next several weeks, we’re going to be “scouting the enemy,” as we’ll be covering the outlook for the 29 other teams in the league ahead of the 2019-2020 season.

Atlanta Hawks

Former Grizzlies: Vince Carter and Chandler Parsons

One could say the Atlanta Hawks are bookended by Memphis Grizzlies. On one end, Chandler Parsons is among the new faces for the Hawks, and he is looking for a fresh start. The Hawks acquired Parsons on July 6th for Solomon Hill and Miles Plumlee. Parsons’ contract had become a dark cloud over the Grizzlies franchise, despite his best intentions to live up to its terms. By all accounts, Parsons is hoping to hit refresh on his career with the Hawks. After his trade, Parsons told Chris Vivlamore in this article from Atlanta Journal-Constitution,

Just to have a fresh start with an organization like the Hawks is incredible to me. The young core that they have is really something special. I’ve seen it from afar. When you look at the depth they have and the age that these kids are, it’s impressive. Hopefully, we can keep these guys together for a long time. They have a chance. I’m excited to come and help anyway possible – lead these young guys, try to stay healthy and contribute any way I can this last year and we’ll see what happens.

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Memphis Grizzlies Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

While the Grizzlies gambled and lost on the Chandler Parsons deal, certainly NBA fans can agree that a redemptive story is always better than a legacy of injury-ridden misfortune. Will Parsons’ be defined by the adage “live by the three ball, die by the three ball?” The good news is that Nate Silver called that adage a myth in his 2015 article that crunched the numbers. Over the last four years, teams have only leaned into three-point shooting. So, if Parsons is even firing on some cylinders, he can provide an advantage to this young Atlanta team.

If the first bookend represents a fresh start, then the second bookend represents a graceful exit. On August 5, we learned that the Atlanta Hawks would sign Vince Carter.

Vince Carter will spend his twenty-second - that is, 22nd - pause for emphasis - twenty-second season in the NBA with the Atlanta Hawks. No other player has played twenty-two seasons. While Grizzlies fans should feel lucky they were able to benefit from his presence for a little while, Hawks fans should be ecstatic to make history with him on their roster. Not only can Vince still provide tangible on-the-court benefits, his primary value is what he provides in mentorship all along the way. Analysts can quantify his value - 41.9% shooting last season - but no one can put a concrete value on Carter’s leadership and experience. It is no wonder the Hawks’ have invited him to stick around to guide the newest members of the roster.

Between the bookends, there are plenty of players with promise. With one season behind him, Trae Young will continue to be held to high standards. Young set the bar high for himself by finishing his rookie year. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, in analyzing his rookie season, discusses the good, veteran company Young keeps in terms of assists - “Young was fourth overall in assists in the league trailing only Russell Westbrook, Kyle Lowry and Chris Paul.”

I’d say that’s pretty good company to keep with just one year under his belt. Although he did not take home the ROTY title, he exceeded expectations when it came to passing. In a July Sport’s Illustrated article, Trae Young is compared to one of Memphis’ greats - “He probes with the patience of Mike Conley, then rifles the ball the second he catches a defense leaning. Young can skip the ball to any corner of the court, even with his off hand.” Expectations remain high for Trae Young’s sophomore season with the Hawks.

NBA: Indiana Pacers at Atlanta Hawks Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Young isn’t the only one fans are excited to see play again. Kevin Huerter will have an opportunity to continue his positive momentum into his second season, presumed to be the starting shooting guard for the Hawks. Plagued by injury early last season, John Collins is poised to hit the ground running as a likely starter for the Hawks come October. Fans should also look forward to the return of Alex Len who showcased a lot of versatility as a Center, attempting 204 three-pointers last season.

While fans will undoubtedly be excited to see their returning talent, this summer’s NBA Draft yielded three high-potential players for the franchise—De’Andre Hunter, Cam Reddish and Bruno Fernando. Hunter, drafted #4 overall in June, will be able to plug-in and make add value on both ends of the floor - shooting from the outside, then turning around and defending the perimeter. At #10, the Hawks drafted Duke’s Cam Reddish, and NBA fans should be excited to see what he can bring to the table unbundled from his former teammates, R.J. Barrett and Zion Williamson. Finally, the Hawks traded up in the second round and drafted Bruno Fernando at #34, adding another versatile big to the roster, one who shot over 60% from the field.

While the Hawks and Grizzlies are not in the same conference, they are each engaging in a rebuild by compiling as many young, talented players as possible and leaning heavily on the more seasoned players to anchor a positive culture through the growing pains. With three players beginning their careers, Parsons looking for redemption and Carter wrapping his career up in a bow, the Atlanta Hawks will have plenty of things to watch in the coming season - cue up League Pass.

Stats found on sports-reference.

Follow @sbngrizzlies.