The Atlanta Hawks had a rather exciting outing in the 2020-21 NBA season. On paper, they were considered one of the weakest teams in the league, but they turned it around and finished the season placing fifth in the Eastern Conference. They went all the way to the Conference Finals but were defeated by the Milwaukee Bucks (4-2).
The Hawks are a relatively young and fair team and we wonder how far they can go in the 2021-22 NBA season.
Possible floor for the Atlanta Hawks in the 2021-22 NBA season
The Hawks had a decent offseason, having to extend the contracts of some of the key players on the roster like Trae Young, Lou Williams, Clint Capela and John Collins. They also had a good run in the 2021 NBA Draft, selecting Duke freshman Jalen Johnson with the 20th overall pick and freshman Sharife Cooper from Auburn as the 48th overall pick.
In 13 games featured, Johnson scored an average of 11.2 points, completing 6.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game. He had a three-point accuracy of 44.4%, netting 8 out of 18 attempts made and a field goal of 52.3%. In his summer league debut, he scored 20 points and completed 10 rebounds. He would be a good addition to the Hawks with his transition play and his defensive skills also.
But will these additions and contract extensions be enough to go against Giannis Antetokounmpo's Bucks, Kevin Durant's Nets, the Heat, Knicks or the 76ers? The answer is simple: NO. And as such, the floor for the Hawks in the 2021-22 NBA season could be earning a place in the Play-In tournament but not advancing to the playoffs.
What the ceiling for the Atlanta Hawks in the 2021-22 NBA season could be
We can make some suggestive deductions using facts derived from history. Since 2001, the losers of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals have found it very difficult to make it back to the finals the following season, only a few have pulled it off.
Within the 20 years span only three franchises have - Detroit Pistons (2006, 2007, 2008), Indiana Pacers (2013, 2014) and Boston Celtics (2017, 2018). Only two teams have returned to the Conference Finals and gone further by proceeding to the NBA Finals - the Pistons (2004) and Miami Heat (2006).
Going by the relevant additions made by other teams during the offseason, it is quite difficult to see the Atlanta Hawks returning to the Conference Finals. A first-round exit in the playoffs could be their ceiling. If they encounter challenges on their way, they would make it to the playoffs through the Play-In.
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