The Atlanta Hawks have gone and turned a weakness from last season into a strength this season. When they went out last season and spent up big, most pundits believed they would make the play-in tournament, but not make much noise beyond that.
Well, what they did was bring in a load of veteran talent which has made all of the difference. However, the key which unlocks the unit is Lou Williams, who the Hawks traded for at the deadline. He has been spectacular since his second game for the Hawks.
It is not just Williams who is doing things in this second unit. Every player who hits the court has their role and they are performing it to perfection at the moment. This is the joy of veteran talent who could still start in the league agreeing to a bench role, it just works.
The Atlanta Hawks bench is just going to get better.
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Since Williams came to the club, Onyeka Okongwu has just played out of his skin. He had his first two double-figure point games but it is his work on the other end which is where he is balling out. Okongwu is willing to guard anyone who switches onto him.
However, when he is at home defending the paint, he is challenging every shot and breaking up plays all over the place. He is going to keep getting better with every minute he plays, rebounding, challenging shots, and setting screens in the pick and roll.
Tony Snell has moved from the starting lineup back to the reserve unit and is still taking the best player on the court defensively. He is also still unconscious for the season from deep, improving after the All-Star break from 56.5 percent to 59.4 percent.
However, the player who makes the bench unit the most dangerous is Danilo Gallinari. Now that he has a coach who is structuring the play, Gallinari has the ability to score on all three levels and spaces the floor for his guards to create. Most starting units cannot handle Gallinari, what hope do second units have.
However, there is so much more to look forward to for this second unit. When De’Andre Hunter comes back into his starting role, the second unit will have the shooting and playmaking of Kevin Huerter. Then they also will have the defense of Cam Reddish and Kris Dunn.
When John Collins comes back then the Hawks will also have Solomon Hill to throw into the mix. This bench unit is going to take the Hawks further into the playoffs than most pundits thought. They are going to be very hard to contain.