There’s no question that this is Trae Young’s team, as the 24-year-old led the Hawks to ranking as a top-10 offense in the NBA.
With Dejounte Murray in the fold, some expect Young to continue getting better. He has averaged 25 or more points per game in each of the past three seasons. So with Murray as his backcourt partner, the two will be able to split defenses and potentially take pressure off each other when they’re on the court together.
When the Hawks stagger their minutes, Young will be able to continue running the team’s offense as he has become accustomed to over his five-year career. On average, Young scores 4.3 points per game in isolation, and the Hawks, of course, can continue to capitalize on that when he is the primary ballhandler on the floor.
The Hawks have a team mandate to improve their defense internally, but they also made an effort to bring along some veterans who are excited to contribute their experiences and help build the defense.
Dejounte Murray (21.1 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 9.2 apg, 2 spg, 46.2 FG%, 32.7 3FG%)
The Hawks knew that they needed to find the right backcourt partner for Young, and they began making the moves long before the season ended. General manager Landry Fields said the team engaged in talks with the Spurs ahead of last season’s trade deadline to see who was available. The Spurs said Murray was not available at the time, but things changed during the offseason.
Now the Hawks have Murray in the fold and will add the much-needed weapon that can split defenses and take the pressure off Young.
Murray brings plenty of speed and athletic ability to the Hawks’ backcourt. He’s not afraid to attack the basket and play through contact, taking 46% of shots with defenders within 2 to 4 feet of him.
On top of that, they get a solid defender who averages multiple steals per game. He ranked first in the league in steals among players who played at least 35 games last season.
Bogdan Bogdanović (15.1 ppg, 4 rpg, 3.1 apg, 1.1 spg, 43.1 FG%, 36.8 3FG%)
The Hawks wing had surgery on his knee in May, and he appears to be progressing well based on a social media video the team put out last month.
Bogdan Bogdanovic likely will roll with the second team, coming off the bench, giving Murray the opportunity to shift to point guard.
Bogdanovic gives the Hawks another solid player that they can count on, especially since this team could find itself in many close games as the season progresses. Bogdanovic ranked among the top 50 players in points per game in clutch situations, putting up an average 2.4 points per game. Paired with Young and Murray, who averaged 3.6 points and 2.8 points, respectively, the Hawks could have a reliable closing unit to shuttle them through tight situations.
The Hawks also know that they have another player who can defend the perimeter. Bogdanovic likely will be the team’s third-best perimeter defender behind Murray and De’Andre Hunter. Last season, he allowed opponents to shoot 38% from behind the arc on nearly five attempts per game.
Aaron Holiday (6.3 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 3.4 apg, 41.1 FG%, 44.4 3FG%)
With two All-Star guards on the roster, it’s likely that Aaron Holiday will play mostly with the third unit and where needed. He can help to handle some of the ballhandling when Murray and Young are off the court.
He also can be injected into action when the team needs another solid defender. On average, he allowed opponents to make 33.1% of their 3-point shots on 2.7 attempts per game in the 60 games he played last season.
Tyrese Martin (rookie)
A second-round draft pick this year, Tyrese Martin likely won’t get a lot of minutes because of the veteran presence on the Hawks this season. But he has the defensive skills that could earn him some additional playing time.
Plus, Martin has the capability of making shots from long range. But as his performance at Summer League showed, he will need a little time to find his groove.
Since the Hawks are in a win-now situation, the rookie won’t have the luxury of an adjustment period and will need things to click pretty quickly.
Trent Forrest (3.3 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 1.8 apg, 49 FG%, 18.5 3FG%)
Like Martin, it’s difficult to see Trent Forrest cracking the rotation because of the depth that the Hawks have. Forrest, who is on a two-way contract, likely will spend much of his time developing in the G League with the Skyhawks.
Jarrett Culver (3.5 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 0.9 apg, 37.8 FG%, 25.5 3FG%)
The Hawks took a flyer on Jarrett Culver, who was the sixth overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft. In his three seasons in the league, he struggled to gain some traction and has a bit of an uphill battle ahead. The Hawks have plenty of guards on the roster, and Culver will have a lot to prove.
Because of his two-way contract, Culver likely will spend much of his time with the Skyhawks.
In addition to the players that are signed to deals, the Hawks also have two guards signed to training-camp deals. The team will take a look at Tyson Etienne and Malik Ellison, but the two likely will sign with the Skyhawks following the duration of camp.