Hawks vs Mavericks: Which team has a better young core?
So much has already been said throughout the past season about the rivalry between Luka Doncic and Trae Young. The two rookies were immediately put against each other due to the draft day trade made between the Dallas Mavericks and the Atlanta Hawks. With Doncic and Young ending up becoming the Rookie of the Year and runners up to the award respectively, it is natural for them to be brought up in the same sentence frequently.
But today we'll be taking a look at the future of both franchises, the positives and negatives for their future, and which team is in a better position going forward in the NBA from an all-round perspective.
Dallas Mavericks (33-49 record in 2018-19, 14th in the West)
When the Dallas Mavericks traded for Luka Doncic, not only did they acquire the 2019 Rookie of The Year, they also found the next potential superstar to kickstart their post-Dirk Nowitzki era.
Dallas were in the hunt for a playoff berth, albeit an unlikely one, on the back of Luka's stunning start to his NBA career. Doncic showed so much promise that Dallas decided to go all in on his future and paired the Slovenian with another European starlet in Kristaps Porzingis trading away their four other starters in this process.
While this move negatively affected their standings this year, it was widely regarded as a great move for their future, clearing cap space and acquiring a potential perfect partnership between Doncic and Porzingis.
Future draft prospects:
As Dallas unfortunately fell down the draft order, they had to hand their pick this year over to the Atlanta Hawks as part of the Doncic trade. This will most likely be an ongoing trend over the next few years for the Mavericks as they have also traded away their 2021 and 2023 first round picks to the New York Knicks when they acquired Porzingis. Dallas have put their future on the shoulders of the Euro pairing and are unlikely to salvage much from the draft over the next few years.
Dallas went into this year's free agency with one main goal, locking up Porzingis for the long haul. Despite reports earlier in the season claiming that this will be an issue, the Mavericks front office pulled this off almost instantly when free agency opened.
While the more optimistic Mavs fans were hoping for a third big name to join with the $30 million hard cap room Dallas had, so far only Seth Curry has joined leaving Dallas with roughly $23 million left to play with in hard space. They have signed most of their key players to long term deals and have expiring contracts next season which puts them in a great position cap wise.
Dallas are in a great position going forward, they will be planning to push for a playoff spot this season and if they can squeeze in there it will validate all the risky trades they have made in the past year.
Atlanta Hawks (29-53 record in 2018-19, 12th in the East)
The Atlanta Hawks have a wonderful collection of young talent. Trae Young and John Collins showed they can become a promising duo in this league and with the 4th and 10th pick in the draft this year they picked De'Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish, two seemingly perfect fits to their young core surrounded Collins and Young with plenty of shooting.
The Atlanta Hawks were rather poor throughout the season. They fell to one of the worst records in the league, and despite Trae Young having a great second half of the year, failed to win many games as they looked to flesh out their young team with more high draft picks.
Future draft prospects:
Due to the Trae Young trade, Atlanta were able to trade up to the 4th pick in this year's draft along with holding the 10th pick in which they took De'Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish respectively. Unlike Dallas, the Hawks have all their future picks in hand and can continue using those pieces to improve their team through either the draft or trades.
The Hawks also have two future first round picks in 2020 and 2022 from Cleveland and OKC which are both protected and likely to be pushed into the second round.
While Atlanta did not have many options to improve their team through free agency this time around, after the 2019-20 season they will only have six contracts on their books, all being rookie deals from the likes of; Trae Young, John Collins, Kevin Huerter, Cam Reddish, De'Andre Hunter, and Omari Spellman. This will put the Hawks in a perfect position in the future to build their team around their outstanding young core.
The Atlanta Hawks are in a great position going forward, however, they will most likely not be ready to step up into the playoffs this season, which would allow them to gain another high draft prospect next year. Their young core has great potential and seems to fit well together on paper.
This match-up largely comes down to who you believe is the better duo, the Europeans in Dallas or John Collins and Trae Young in Atlanta. After comparing the two teams, the Dallas Mavericks seemingly are in the better position at this stage for the future.
While the Hawks are building something that could be great, it is very possible that the Mavericks already have something great. Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis are just too good to ignore. Porzingis has already been an All-Star in New York. He's just 23 and if he can come back from his ACL injury and play at the same rate alongside the 20-year-old Luka Doncic, the two could become the best duo in the league one day.
It would not be the biggest surprise this season to see Dallas find themselves up as high as the 5th or 6th seed already over the next season and while that may be an overestimation, it is safe to say Atlanta are still a couple of years off reaching those heights.