Atlanta Hawks continue to be disrespected in ESPN rankings

(Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

ESPN just released its rankings of the best NBA players for the 2020-21 season and the Atlanta Hawks should feel disrespected.

For the 10th consecutive year, ESPN has put out its preseason list of the projected top 100 NBA players this season (subscription required). Two Atlanta Hawks made the list but Hawks fans and players alike have the right to be upset at where both Trae Young and John Collins were mentioned on the list.

Although the Hawks haven’t made the playoffs since 2017 when they lost in the first round to the Washington Wizards, the front office made a ton of moves this offseason that many believe will secure the team a playoff berth this season. Trae Young and John Collins will reprise their roles as starters and undoubtedly determine the Atlanta Hawks’ success this season and moving forward.

Let’s take a look at where both of these gentlemen landed on ESPN’s top 100 list and why their rankings were all wrong, starting with franchise point guard Trae Young.

Atlanta Hawks
(Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

Trae Young ranked 29th in ESPN top 100 list

As one of the smaller guards in the league, Trae Young entered the NBA in 2018 and immediately made his presence felt. Many questioned if the Hawks might’ve made a mistake trading him for Luka Doncic on draft night but what Trae has done for the city and its culture in the past two seasons has shown that they came away winners of that draft in their own right.

In his first season with the Hawks, Trae Young set the tone for the type of career he’d hope to have, posting on average 19.1ppg on .418/.324/.829 shooting splits. While some argued that he deserved the title, Young finished second to Luka Doncic in the rookie of the year voting, most likely because Doncic was on a much better team. He took this personally and set out to improve dramatically in his sophomore campaign, which we absolutely did. We watched his field goal shooting percentage bump up to .437 on 5 more attempts per game. His 3-point shooting saw an improvement as well, rising to .361 on 3.5 more attempts per game. Trae Young parlayed these shooting progressions into 10.5 more points per game, leaping up from 19.1 to almost 30 points per game. Extremely noteworthy. He even received some votes for most improved player because of the big leap he took between seasons.

Now entering his third year in the league, Trae Young has catapulted himself into the conversation of best point guards in the NBA. Last year Young put up absolutely incredible stats landing him at top 5 in the league in both the scoring and assist categories, an accomplishment only he and Damian Lillard achieved.

So if he’s top 5 in two of the most important statistical categories, how does Trae Young rank 29th in ESPN’s ranking?

light. Related Story. Is Trae Young a top 5 PG in the NBA?

Why ranking Trae Young 29th doesn’t make sense

As previously discussed, Trae Young was top 5 in scoring and assists last year. When you couple that with the fact that he was an NBA All-Star a ranking of 29th doesn’t seem to add up.

At the very least, being selected to the All-Star game should mean that you’re a top 24 player in the NBA, right?

If Young’s stats weren’t impressive enough for you, here’s some perspective: Last year, Trae Young became the 5th player in NBA history to average at least 29 PPG & 9 APG in a season. Yes, in NBA history. He also garnered these numbers playing for one of the worst shooting teams in the league in the Atlanta Hawks, which makes it even more astonishing.

With players like Zion Williamson who only played in 24 games last year, and Ben Simmons ahead of Trae in the rankings, it’s obvious that size played a part in Young’s low ranking. He is statistically one of the worst defenders in the league and size obviously affects that. But this writer says that the only things a Ben Simmons does better than Trae Young are defending and rebounding, two categories that size plays a huge role in.

Trae Young accomplishing what he has thus far for the Atlanta Hawks at his size is surely one of the more impressive feats in recent NBA history and ESPN’s ranking doesn’t reflect that in the slightest.

Now, on to John Collins.

Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports /

John Collins ranked 84th in ESPN top 100 list

Perhaps more egregious than Trae Young’s ranking in ESPN’s preseason top 100 list was the ranking of Atlanta Hawks Forward John Collins. The big man came in at number 84 on the list with players like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Lonzo Ball ahead of him.

John Collins missed the first 25 games of the season for the Atlanta Hawks last year after being suspended but came back with an absolute vengeance. He put up eye-popping numbers, 21.6 points and 10.1 rebounds per game on 58.3/40.1/80.0 shooting splits. Absolutely insane. He also boasted a player efficiency rating of 23 when the league average is 15.

Earlier this year, Bleacher Report ranked Collins the number 8 power forward in the league behind the likes of Kristaps Porzingis, new teammate and backup Danilo Gallinari, and Zion Williamson.

What John Collins does in the paint can’t be overstated but what’s also pretty amazing is his three-point shot. He made 59 threes on 147 attempts last year for a 40 percent field goal percentage which is insane for a player not known for shooting beyond the arc. Playing alongside Trae Young and now another big man like Clint Capela should allow for another stellar year for John Collins who is heading into his fourth NBA season.

No matter your opinion on the Hawks, there are certainly not 83 players better than John Collins in the NBA.

This writer believes that the Hawks will continue to be disrespected by the media until they prove themselves as a playoff team, and all signs point that they will be this season.

Next. Atlanta Hawks: Better or worse? A breakdown of each position. dark