The Atlanta Hawks find themselves at a crossroads after yet another disappointing season. Despite renewed optimism after a surprise Eastern Conference Finals run in 2021, the Hawks crashed back to earth after back-to-back years clawing for play-in tournament victories and eventual first-round exits.
To make matters worse, former head coach Nate McMillian was fired mid-season due to a reported clash with superstar Trae Young, former President of Basketball Operations Travis Schlenk stepped down, and owner Tony Ressler’s 27-year-old son was ruffling feathers with alleged meddling in front office decisions.
This plethora of bad news might give the impression that the sky is falling in Atlanta. However, a light is shining at the end of the tunnel in the form of head coach Quin Snyder.
Snyder took over with 21 games left, and while the team didn’t drastically become a sensation overnight, they showed glimpses of what they could become under Snyder’s watchful eye. A surprise upset over Miami in the play-in tournament led to the Hawks shocking everyone by taking No. 2 seed Boston to six games, including a buzzer-beating road win in game five.
Most importantly, Trae Young looks like a superstar again.
While there is cause for optimism in the Hawks camp following the conclusion of their early season exit, this is, for all intents and purposes, a make-or-break off-season for the Atlanta front office. One right step, and they’re right back in contention for the Eastern Conference crown; one wrong step, though, and they could be starting from scratch again in the pit of obscurity.
1. Convincing Themselves the Roster is Fine
This is unlikely to happen, but this disaster scenario is deeply ingrained within the minds of Hawks fans everywhere.
This happens all the time in sports; a team has an underwhelming year, they get hot at the right time, they have a decent playoff showing, and it somehow convinces a front office that the roster is completely fine to “run it back.”
Although getting beat in the first round is far from a solid playoff showing, the Hawks still checked that box by taking Boston to six games. There is a world where the Hawks front office sees what happened this past year and tells themselves this up-and-down season falls solely on McMillian and that everything will be fine now with Snyder.
Snyder is a phenomenal coach and more than capable of changing the culture in Atlanta. He’s the right man to lead them to the promised land potentially. However, there is more to basketball than just coaching. You need the proper roster, and the Hawks simply don’t have that right now.
A massive overhaul isn’t needed (more on that later), but a light reconstruction is a near necessity if Atlanta hopes to compete in the east again.