Is the Young Core of the Hawks Viable?

Mar 8, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks guard Tim Hardaway Jr. (10, right) celebrates a play with guard Dennis Schroder (17) in the fourth quarter of their game against the Brooklyn Nets at Philips Arena. The Hawks won 110 - 105. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 8, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks guard Tim Hardaway Jr. (10, right) celebrates a play with guard Dennis Schroder (17) in the fourth quarter of their game against the Brooklyn Nets at Philips Arena. The Hawks won 110 - 105. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports /

Every team that isn’t the Golden State Warriors knows that, now more than ever, it is extremely important to have young players with potential and room to develop.

Over the course of the last 12 years, the Hawks have had little to show for in that department. However, with recent acquisitions, the Hawks now have plenty of young pieces to build upon.

Dennis SchroderTim Hardaway Jr.Taurean PrinceIsaia CordinierJohn CollinsTyler DorseyDeAndre BembryAlpha Kaba, and Mike Muscala are all the players that are 25 or under that the Hawks either currently have on their roster or hold draft rights to. It is really unlikely that all nine of these players will be seen on the Hawks roster at the same time; but, within this group could be a combination of players that could gel with each other and potentially develop into franchise cornerstones.

The front office has done an excellent job recognizing the dire need of young prospects as the franchise was not heading anywhere. They also did well in going out and actually getting these prospects. Now it is up to the front office, coaching, and training staff to develop them and make sure they reach all that they are capable of. As good as it seems to have all these young players, keep in mind that just about every other team in the NBA is doing the exact same thing. This leaves a burning question. Can the young core of the Hawks match up with those of other teams such as the Suns, 76ers, Jazz, Lakers, Magic, etc.?

First, the proven players should be taken into account. Schroder and Hardaway have had solid NBA experience and they both have “future star” written all over them. Schroder is earning a reputation as one of the most relentless finishers among point guards in the league and plays with an edge, which is what the Hawks need. Hardaway has proven that he has the ability to take over the offense during crunch time and that is vital as one of the biggest problems for the Hawks since the departure of Joe Johnson has been not having a clutch performer. With them is Prince and Muscala. Prince did not receive consistent minutes until the end of the season last year, but analysts have his ceiling as high as Paul George. Muscala may not have as much potential as the other guys, but he is a consistent role player that has proven to constantly benefit the Hawks. Without these four men, there is no doubt that the Hawks wouldn’t have won more than 30 games last season. If they keep improving, there is no reason why they cannot compete with the best the league has to offer.

Next to look are the players with extremely little to no experience, including the 2017 draftees (Collins, Dorsey, and Kaba) along with Bembry and Cordinier. John Collins is the main attraction on this list of inexperienced players. Do not expect an immediate impact during his rookie season. Much like Schroder’s and Hardaway’s first season in Atlanta, Collins will probably be sent on numerous trips to the NBA Development League and play with the Erie Bayhawks. Until management is satisfied with the development of his defense and expansion of his shooting range, Collins probably will not see consistent playing time until his second or third season. Dorsey is under a similar situation, except it will be more of a fight for him as it seems that the Hawks are set at the guard position. However, he does play like he was born to be a sixth man, with his energy, shooting, and explosiveness.

Cordinier and Kaba are the team’s “stash” players. They will play and develop overseas and hopefully join the club in the near future. Cordinier (pick #44 in 2016) is coming off of a rough year shooting the ball with his club team, Olympique Antibes. While his low shooting numbers may seem discouraging, he is only 20 years old. He may never actually play a game for the Hawks, but there is no harm having a player like him overseas because it is impossible to tell how good a player could end up being, especially when that player isn’t even old enough to buy a beer in America.

At the center position,  Kaba could prove to be the X-factor for the Hawks. The team is in great need for a solid center and he is really comfortable around the basket, runs the floor well, and is a brick wall down low. He is also a capable shooter, but could definitely improve on that aspect. Once Kaba gets experience, his basketball IQ and recognition will increase. I feel that he was heavily slept on as he fell to the last pick of the NBA Draft. With time to grow, he could turn into one of the greatest steals that the Hawks have had in recent memory.

Only time will tell just how good these young players can turn out to be. In time however, I believe that the young core of the Hawks have the potential to be a problem for teams around the league. With the questionable trade of Dwight Howard and the likeliness of Paul Millsap walking away, Hawks fans may only be seeing cloudy skies. The development of these players will directly impact the state of the franchise. We can only hope for the best.

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