The Atlanta Hawks’ season started off in a rather dubious way when they let their double-digit first-half lead go against the Charlotte Hornets, falling 116-110 on the road. Trae Young led the Hawks with 23 points. But it took him 19 field goal attempts and 15 attempts at the free throw line to get there.
“We played good in spurts,” Young said via atlhawksfans on October 25. “We had good moments. Our offense hasn’t really clicked the way we wanted to. Even in preseason it hasn’t really clicked the way we wanted to.”
The Hawks’ 110 points in this contest would have tied for their second-highest total of the preseason as they averaged 107.8 points per game during the exhibition season.
And they shot an abysmal 5-for-29 (17.5%) from beyond the three-point line.
Their three-point shooting wasn’t great in the preseason, ranking 20th among NBA teams in efficiency shooting 33%. That is below their mark from last season and came as Young – who vowed to shoot better this season after struggling through much of last season – was 1-for-9 from beyond the arc.
Young still added nine assists, one rebound, and one steal. But he also turned the ball over five times.
“I got to play a lot better,” Young said. “I mean I don’t want to put anything on my teammates. I’m not going to shoot like that. I mean it’s tough. Yeah, I didn’t want to play like that – I’m not going to play like that. So yeah no it’s tough on that for sure.”
His teammates combined to go 4-for-20 from beyond the arc while their 29 attempts would have been toward the bottom half of their attempts in a single game from last season.
That might be the most telling stat with Quin Snyder having a full offseason.
Young predicted that the Hawks would take more threes this season with Snyder at the helm this season. Snyder’s Utah Jazz teams ranked at or near the top of the list in three-pointers taken during his tenure. Even last season, the Hawks’ deep attempts took an upturn upon his arrival, going from 30.4 attempts per game to 31.1 after he took over.
Hawks’ defense caves in second half
The Hawks held the Hornets to 47.5% shooting overall and 28.6% from long distance in the first half. But the home team improved to 52.2% shooting from the floor and 30.4% from beyond the arc in the second half.
One of the things the Hawks focused on this offseason – and that has held them back in previous seasons – was their defense.
It was just the preseason. But the Hawks did rank 12th during this year’s exhibition season.
“That’ll carry over. We worked too hard in this offseason for it not to carry over. It’s tough. You don’t want to start your season out like this, obviously. It’s the first game. But for me, I’m not worried,” Young said. “It’s a long season. I mean, you win the first game, that doesn’t mean you win it all. So we just got to keep going, keep listening to Quin, and everything’s going to pay off.”
The loss was just the second in a season opener for Young in his career, and it was the first time since his rookie season. Perhaps the most ominous part about it is that now the Hawks’ best-case scenario over the first two games is to be .500.
After setting the record for most games at or within one game of that mark last season, surely they would like to stack some wins early on to create some cushion for true slumps.
The Hawks next take the floor for the home opener at State Farm Arena versus the New York Knicks who also lost their first game.