The Atlanta Hawks open up the 2021-22 season on the road against the Dallas Mavericks on Oct 21. By then, the NBA as a whole will have already kicked off the new campaign. Ahead of that, Bleacher Report has taken one more pass at predicting the top 50 players. There were some surprises but things essentially fell about where they should.
At the top was Kevin Durant, largely on the strength of his postseason performance, followed by Giannis Antetokounmpo and LeBron James at third. We’ll let other debate if this order is correct. The grouping certainly is.
Of course, our interests lie in where the Hawks landed. Two Hawks made the list and it’s probably not hard to guess who.
The Atlanta Hawks have two top-50 players according to Bleacher Report
The rankings are an aggregate of the outlet’s staff’s picks, so they also provide the range the player fell in. Trae Young ranks 15th on the list, checking in one spot ahead of Phoenix’s Devin Booker and one behind Miami’s Jimmy Butler. But Young’s high was seventh overall and his low was 21st.
He’s coming off of a season where he averaged 25.3 points and 9.4 assists and managed to step his game up to make history in the playoffs. Those two factors alone might make the ranking seem a little low.
But those ranked above him all have strong cases at the very least. Still, it wouldn’t be a shock to see the Hawks superstar point guard higher on the list this time next season.
John Collins’ ranking is a bit more interesting.
At 46th, it’s nice that he was able to crack the list. But it also seems a bit lower than one might expect at first guess. Again, though, you’d be hard-pressed to find players who might not belong above the Hawks high-flying forward when parsing through the names on the list.
Bleacher Report also released an accompanying list of best and worst-case scenarios for their top 50.
For Young, his best case is as the leader of one of the top teams in the East. At worst, injuries pile up or he struggles to adjust to the NBA’s new “unnatural motions” rule. The former is a legit concern as he has dealt with numerous injuries in his career, though none too serious. However, the latter somewhat belies his ability to get to and finish with his floater.
Young has also been working on his mid-range game this summer.
The fear with Collins is that he will rest on his laurels now that he has gotten his new contract, worth up to $125 million. Collins has come out and said that isn’t going to be the case and that he will work even harder now.
To that end, the former Wake Forest Demon Deacon has been one of the only Hawks to be at least decent in every game they’ve played this preseason.
Power rankings are subjective by nature. And the exact positioning of Collins and Young might seem off to some. But the bigger takeaway is that the Hawks have two of the top (roughly) 11 percent of the NBA’s talent on the roster right now.