While other teams worry about the fates of their stars at the Rio Olympics, the Atlanta Hawks can rest easy.
The 2016 Summer Olympics start tomorrow. The world will focus its attention on swimming, track, basketball in Rio. Among those watching will be the Atlanta Hawks.
Zero hawks will be representing their respective countries in the Olympics this year. Some players dream about playing for their home country and simply could not play. Dennis Schroder was ecstatic to play for Germany, but his national team failed to qualify. The same goes for Tiago Splitter, who cannot play for Brazil due to the injury that cost him the last 4 months of the NBA season. Others, such as Dwight Howard, have already won Olympic gold.
While several of the NBA’s elite and good talent competes in Rio, the Hawks will spend their summer resting and preparing for a new season.
While other teams fret and stew over the possibility of injury to star players, the Hawks can enjoy the games, knowing that they have minimal worries until the season actually begins.
Injuries are a constant risk, and when that injury does not come in the course of attempting to win an NBA championship, a team’s investment looks foolish. Two years ago, Paul George broke his leg in scrimmage for the US National team prior to the FIBA world cup. The gruesome injury cost George 8 months of his career and wrecked any playoff aspirations the Pacers had that season.
Although injuries such as George’s are not frequent, why would any team want to take on the risk of losing a superstar? Some teams will run the risk of injuring multiple superstars, most notably the Golden State Warriors, who will have Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green representing the red white and blue in Rio.
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Atlanta has no such concerns.
Along with the injury risk comes fatigue. If the Hawks had any players in the Olympics, there would be some level of concern for overuse. While a younger player like Schroder could have gotten away with the extended season, a player like Splitter, who is past his prime, would be more likely to add wear and tear to his body.
Again, look at the Warriors. They played a remarkable regular season at full throttle. It takes playing at or near A game to reach 73 wins after all. Then they were pushed to the limit in their final two playoff series. Thompson and Green have not had a break all year, having gone to tryouts and practice for the US National Team almost immediately after losing the NBA championship.
Fatigue and overuse may not be noticeable at the beginning of the season, but at some point in the schedule, Thompson and Green will start to slow down a little. And that could be the difference between a 3rd straight return to the NBA finals or an early playoff exit for Golden State.
Normally, the offseason is taken for granted. All guys get to rest and recharge for the new season. But not this year. The Hawks may have a blessing in disguise by being left out of the Olympics.