Travis Schlenk witnessed a dynasty
Coming from the Warriors organization, Schlenk saw firsthand how a dynasty and winning team was built. The plan was for Atlanta to build organically through the draft much like Golden State did. Schlenk also wanted to emulate the style of basketball the Warriors played by drafting to fit similar roles. Young was supposed to be the next Stephen Curry (though he turned out to be more like his favorite player growing up Steve Nash). Huerter was supposed to be a sharpshooting wing like Klay Thompson. And Omari Spellman was supposed to be an enforcer similar to Draymond Green.
It’s safe to say this didn’t work out in the Hawks’ favor. After just one season, Omari Spellman was moved to Golden State for Damian Jones and a second-round pick. Huerter was a good shooter who found a place in the rotation, but struggles with consistency held him back from living up to the Thompson mold the Hawks projected him to be. Young turned out to be a superstar amid the bust label early on, but even the Curry comparison for him turned out to be a stretch.
Many people were high on the potential the new young Hawks roster had. Going into the 2019-20 season, the Hawks had 6 players on rookie contracts. At that point the future was bright and the sky was the limit in Atlanta. After drafting Cam Reddish and trading for De’Andre Hunter at the 2019 draft, the Hawks looked as if they added a future wing duo that had high upside. Despite the potential both players showed, only one of them could start and that was Hunter. As for Reddish, he would grow unhappy with his role in Atlanta and request a trade.
After drafting Onyeka Okongwu with the sixth overall pick in the 2020 NBA draft, Schlenk decided that the rebuild should be over and the Hawks should look to make a playoff push. He wanted to see his vision come to life and after adding Bogdan Bogdanovic from the Sacramento Kings along with veterans Rajon Rondo and Danilo Gallinari.
Atlanta was finally ready to make a playoff push. Schlenk traded Rondo for Lou Williams at the trade deadline and Atlanta would eventually make a surprise run to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2021. The thing was, the Hawks still had a young team and people were excited to see the progress Atlanta would make to get back to that level.