Despite a lack of free agent signings or trades thus far in the 2023 offseason, the Atlanta Hawks have still found themselves at the center of the rumor mill and speculation frenzy that usually occurs around this time of year.
With John Collins being shipped off to Utah in Atlanta’s only needle-moving decision of the summer so far, the team currently has a gap at the power forward spot, and fans and media alike have speculated that the team may be interested in acquiring Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam to fill that void.
Earlier this week, Siakam gave a slight ounce of validity to those rumors by following point guard Trae Young on Instagram, and now Young himself has made a mysterious reference to a potential big trade that could be on the horizon for the Hawks.
“The summer’s not ever yet,” said Young on the latest episode of his recently launched “From The Point” podcast. “…That’s the NBA, you never know. The next day, something crazy could come out, a big trade or a big signing, and who knows, we could be the next team that makes a move.”
Acquiring Siakam would certainly qualify as the “big trade” Young is referencing.
How good would Pascal Siakam make the Atlanta Hawks?
In a word, Siakam would make the Hawks better.
Throughout the 2023 season, Atlanta played with a heavily flawed lineup that actively worked against the strengths of both Young and shooting guard Dejounte Murray. Their power forward in Collins was best utilized as a roll man to the basket (or maybe necessitated as such due to his sub.300 three-point shooting clip), but also lacked the size to be a rim protector, forcing Atlanta to play him alongside Clint Capela, another non-shooting threat, which clogged the lane and forced Young and Murray to play outside of their comfort zones.
While Siakam isn’t necessarily an elite three-point shooter, he has hovered in the mid-30s percent range for most of his career and can also put the ball on the floor and create his own offense at a high level.
Siakam would also automatically become Atlanta’s most versatile defender with the ability to guard all five positions and use his lengthy frame to get in passing lanes and disrupt ball handlers.
Would the former All-Star make the Hawks championship contenders?
Maybe not immediately. It’s certainly worth considering the pieces Atlanta would have to give up to get Siakam in the first place, which would likely include either Capela or De’Andre Hunter in addition to one or two of the young players off of the bench.
On paper, the Boston Celtics, especially considering their recent acquisition of Kristaps Porzingis, would still have more talent than Atlanta, and Siakam’s addition alone certainly wouldn’t be enough to convince most experts to pick Atlanta over the Milwaukee Bucks either.
However, as we saw this past postseason, sometimes talent level isn’t everything. Those same Celtics were beaten by a Miami Heat team that played in astonishing syncopation throughout the 2023 playoffs, boasting an array of complementary pieces that seemed to work perfectly around their star Jimmy Butler.
Indeed, so much of NBA success is dependent not on how great your players are, but on how well they play together. Siakam’s addition would give Atlanta’s Quin Snyder-revamped offense so much more room to explore its limits, and would also relieve pressure off of Young and Murray and give them a lot more room to get to their spots.
On the other end of the floor, Siakam would do a lot to address Atlanta’s biggest issue, which was their point-of-attack defense, and would help shut off the endless seams that opposing offenses were able to find against Atlanta’s perimeter defenders last year.
Yes, going after Siakam would be a big swing, and with every big swing, there is the potential for a big failure.
But let’s be realistic: the Hawks and their fans are used to embarrassment.
It’s been the defining characteristic of this franchise over the years more often than not. The one way the Hawks can assure they won’t get to the promised land is by standing idle with a roster that’s clearly not ready to contend.
In the words of a certain Atlanta artist, “Why not risk life when it’s gonna keep going?”