The Atlanta Hawks had an up-and-down season this past year, and that goes for the organization as well as the players. The team made a big swing for Dejounte Murray, were glued to .500 all year en route to a Play-In Berth, hired a new front office and head coach in-season and finally played their way in the playoffs only to lose in six games to the defending Eastern Conference champions.
That roller coaster may have had constantly changing operators, but the players on the roster had wildly different seasons as well. Some took a major step forward, helping to push the Hawks towards success; others stumbled and have proven to the team that Atlanta is better off with someone else in their spot.
Here are three Hawks players that are now untouchable, and four that shouldn’t be around when next season begins.
Untouchable No. 1: Onyeka Okongwu
Most of the Top 10 draft picks from the 2020 NBA Draft look like disappointments, either in personal development or because of the role they were thrust into. Anthony Edwards and LaMelo Ball have been All-Stars, but James Wiseman (picked 2nd), Patrick Williams (4th), Isaac Okoro (5th), Killian Hayes (7th), Deni Avdija (9th) and Jalen Smith (10th) have all crashed and burned to some extent.
Obi Toppin has proven himself in a small role but has found himself locked behind an All-Star in Julius Randle, and the situation has been similar for Onyeka Okongwu playing behind Clint Capela in Atlanta. Entering this season, it was still an open question whether the Hawks had overreached in drafting Okongwu sixth overall.
This season is when Okongwu took that step forward, wrestling minutes away from Capela and securing his place as the center of the future in Atlanta. He is a much more versatile defender than Capela, comfortable floating out into space, and he is an excellent offensive rebounder with great touch around the rim. The Hawks have a decision to make with Capela, but it’s an easier one to make knowing Okongwu is behind him ready for more.