The Atlanta Hawks need to follow the path of a new contender

The Atlanta Hawks are a team stuck in low playoff purgatory and barring a major shakeup, it is difficult to see them escaping it. They need to follow the path of this Western Conference contender to get back into title contention.
Atlanta Hawks HC Quin Snyder
Atlanta Hawks HC Quin Snyder / Paras Griffin/GettyImages

The Atlanta Hawks season is at the proverbial crossroads, again. This seems to be the story of the Hawks over the past few seasons and to put it simply, the fanbase and everyone associated with the team deserves better. They have the nucleus of a good team around Trae Young and Dejounte Murray but have never quite been able to round out the roster.

The Hawks have not been able to replicate the success that saw them just two games away from the NBA finals back in the 2020-21 season. Since then, they have had to qualify for the playoffs through the play-in tournament and have then been disposed of in the first round. This season, if they can't turn it around, then there is a chance that they won't even make it that far.

The main problem for the Hawks is that they have been too good to score a lottery pick but not good enough to compete. This is where the Orlando Magic found themselves before deciding to move on from their big-3 back in March of 2021. They have built through the draft and some free-agent signings. However, they are not a contender yet, the blueprint comes from the Western Conference.

The Atlanta Hawks need to follow the OKC Thunder blueprint

When the OKC Thunder lost their superstar Kevin Durant, they tried to reload with Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. Then Damian Lillard hit THAT shot, George demanded a trade which also meant that the Thunder traded Russell Westbrook.

It took a couple of seasons, but the Thunder built around Shai Gilgeous-Alexander with young players from the draft. Josh Giddey, Jalen William, and Chet Holmgren are going to form one of the strongest cores in the league and the oldest of that group is just 25. It has taken just four seasons and the Thunder are currently the second-best team in the West with tremendous potential for greater glory.

However, they are not done building this team. They still have 11 first-round draft picks over the next four NBA drafts. They also have 14 second-round picks over the same period of time. They are team with incredible upside and assets for days. The Hawks do not have any of the same potential.

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Young is one of best point guards in the NBA at the moment, Murray is also an All-Star level player. DeAndre Hunter could have been anything but has not developed into the player that the Hawks need. On top of that, Clint Capela is a very one-dimensional offensive player who can transform any defense.

If the Hawks trade some of their current core, then they may be able to follow the same path that Sam Presti and the Thunder have beaten. Now is the time for the Hawks to maximize the trade value of Young, Murray, Hunter, Capela, and Bogdan Bogdanovic.

They have the opportunity to build around Onyeka Okongwu, AJ Griffin, Jalen Johnson, and potentially Saddiq Bey. They can garner a large number of future draft-picks and some good young players who can develop or be flipped for other picks.

It may take a couple of years, but ask yourself, would it be better to deal with another ten seasons of mediocrity or suffer three or four seasons of pain for the potential gain. The Thunder have shown how it can be done, and if the Hawks front office can replicate what Sam Presti has done, then this team will be a contender for a long time.