The Atlanta Hawks are missing one key element for success

The Atlanta Hawks are missing one key element in their quest to move forward and it must be addressed in the offseason.

Feb 27, 2024; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Hawks head coach Quin Snyder talks to a player against
Feb 27, 2024; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Hawks head coach Quin Snyder talks to a player against / Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Hawks are not a terrible basketball team. They have so many positives that they can take from this season. They are developing Kobe Bufkin as the rookie is starting to shine in the absence of Trae Young. On top of that, Saddiq Bey might have played De'Andre Hunter out of the starting role meaning that the Hawks may be able to create some cap room this offseason via trade.

Bruno Fernando has shown that he can bring energy to a game and potentially influence the result. While these gains seem small, I think that it is safe to say that when Young went in for surgery the Hawks put the cue in the rack. They knew that this season was a bust and everything now has to be about next season.

While this is a difficult pill to swallow, the Hawks need to be realistic. They are not competing for the title this season and therefore need to take a pragmatic approach. Due to the franchise not making any moves at the trade deadline, expect this offseason to be very busy as the franchise must to retool their roster.

So what is the missing element that the Atlanta Hawks need so desperately?

The answer to the above question is leadership. The Hawks are missing a veteran leader to help slow the runs, keep the collective heads up, and improve the team's body language when things go wrong. Again, these are all small things, but they can have a massive impact on a team's season.

The difficulty that the Hawks have faced over the last few offseasons is that the expectations were too high of the group. That Eastern Conference finals run caused the front office to believe that they were in a better position than they were with they roster that they had at the time.

As such, they overpaid John Collins and De'Andre Hunter and have spent the last two offseasons dumping salary in an effort to tweak the team. The problem is that the Hawks were only the fifth-best team in the East that year and they got past a struggling Julius Randle, before Danny Green went down in the Philadelphia series.

Also, with each of these salary dumps, the team culture has been diluted. The spirit that helped the Hawks make that Finals run was traded away. These culture-setting pieces have been replaced by new players. The Hawks essentially replaced Collins with Patty Mills, and while the Australian has won titles and is a leader in the Australian national team, it is not the same.

The Hawks need a veteran who has established their credentials in the NBA over a long period of time and is respected because of that. They need a player who can, through the force of their experience and voice, change the body language of players on the court though an action, through true leadership.

During the second game against the Brooklyn Nets, it was the younger guys who brought energy to the court again. Dejounte Murray, whose talent makes him a leader on the team, was seen on the court with his head down, talking to himself. On top of that, when the team needed to get back into it, the star guard received a technical foul.

You hear of players being great locker room guys and leaders. The Hawks have no one on their roster who has the authority of personality to take Murray aside and tell him what he needs to do. It can come from a coach, but it hits different coming from a respected peer. A well-placed word or two can change the course of a season, and in some cases, a career.