The Atlanta Hawks are attempting to walk the finest of lines in the NBA: two timelines.
Each of their four projected returning starters has no less than four years of experience while their bench has just two players with more experience than that – veterans Bogdan Bogdanovic and 2023 offseason acquisition Patty Mills.
This delicate balance is rarely successful for teams looking to contend as the Hawks presumably are given their rumored pursuit of a Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam.
But teams also cannot afford to simply part with all of their young, up-and-coming assets for proven ones, especially teams like the Hawks who, while being an Eastern Conference Finalist just two years ago, have been bounced out of the playoffs in the first round in back-to-back seasons.
So, which youngsters should the Hawks be willing to part with, and which should they keep?
2 players the Atlanta Hawks should develop, 2 they shouldn’t
Develop: AJ Griffin
The No. 20 overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, AJ Griffin is an easy choice for a prospect the Hawks should invest in. Standing 6-foot-6 and checking in at 222 pounds, Griffin entered the league with an NBA-ready body to go along with his jump shot.
Griffin averaged 8.9 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 1.0 assists while shooting 39% from beyond the arc in his first season, and earned himself a spot in NBA history.
It was still a very rookie-like season in many ways.
He started scorching hot, knocking down 40.8% of his triples over the first 51 games of the season, even drawing 11 starts in that span. But he hit a bit of a wall, connecting on just 32.3% of his deep looks from the February 9 trade deadline on, and was left out of head coach Quin Snyder’s rotations during the five-game playoff series against the Boston Celtics.
AJ Griffin should be a priority for the Atlanta Hawks
Despite his sluggish finish to the season, Griffin is already arguably the second-best three-point shooter on the team behind only Bogdanovic who connected at a 40.6% clip on the season across his 54 appearances with nine starts.
This offseason has also featured reports the Hawks have explored the idea of freeing up minutes for the second-generation NBAer, though.
That takes us right into our first “don’t develop” on the list.