The Atlanta Hawks created a question for themselves in the past offseason when they failed to extend John Collins and then traded for Danilo Gallinari. They appear to be reshaping their roster to help Trae Young the most to improve their franchise.
While there are still very large question marks about Young’s defense, he is one of the best offensive players in the game. It is the job of the front office to identify and secure the best complimentary talent to go around him to highlight his talents and mitigate his weaknesses.
Any starting combination for the Hawks, when they are healthy is going to involve Young, Clint Capela, and De’Andre Hunter. Capela and Hunter are two-way players whose games complement Young’s game. Capela his vertical spacing and his defense has been a revelation for the Hawks.
Hunter is the Hawks’ best on-ball defender and can score at all three levels. When he is back healthy it is likely that Bogdan Bogdanovic will be the starting two-guard so let’s take a look at the starting power forward spot for the Hawks.
Why the Atlanta Hawks are a better team with Danilo Gallinari starting.
Collins is an incredible player. He averaged 20 points and ten rebounds last season. These are really good numbers but they were on a losing team. This season’s team is much more successful and his averages have dipped to 17.4 points and 7.5 rebounds per game.
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He is shooting the ball at 38.5 percent from deep which is down from his early-season shooting number where he was over 40 percent. He showed that he could shoot the 3-ball at over 40 percent from a whole season in 2019-20.
However, Gallinari has shot the ball at over 40 percent from deep for the last three seasons including this one. The difference is that Gallinari has successfully done this on playoff teams. He has the ability to fit into an offense as well as take an offense over.
Gallinari has also a proven record of taking and making high-volume 3-point shots in his career. This means that his defender is not able to cheat off him at the 3-point line. The floor then opens up for Young to create, or if Gallinari is to attract two defenders. he has also shown himself to be a willing passer, finding the open man for the better shot.
Defensively Collins is a better rim protector but as a one-on-one defender, his lateral movement is not good enough to keep players in front of him. However, Capela is a much better rim protector than Collins meaning that the forward is playing more one-on-one defense.
However, what shows that Collins does not fit as well as Gallinari is when Collins has a game of 30 points or more, the Hawks have a 1-4 record. During these five games, he has taken 24 of his 102 shot attempts from deep. While he has made 13 of these shots, he has been more content to shoot inside, meaning the defense is able to collapse on him.
Gallinari does not allow the defense to focus on one area of the court. He has the ability to score at all three levels and involves others more as a result. The Hawks have a much greater chance of winning when Gallinari is on fire than if Collins is.