How will the Hawks’ young core fit? Competition will answer

Credit: Christina R. Matacotta

Credit: Christina R. Matacotta

The Hawks’ young core just got younger.

Now what?

With the addition of three draft picks, the Hawks have a roster with the majority of players with four or fewer years of NBA experience, including six entering their second or first season. The average age of the 14 players who are currently, or soon will be, under contract next season is 23.6 years old. Miles Plumlee and Evan Turner are the eldest at 30 years old and first-round pick draft pick Cam Reddish the youngest at 19 years old. DeAndre Bembry, who is entering his fourth season, is now the longest tenured Hawks player after Kent Bazemore was traded Tuesday.

The Hawks could add a veteran player in free agency, which begins on Sunday. The 42-year-old Vince Carter is a candidate to return might the roster is crowded. That would certainly increase the average age of the roster but it's the young nucleus the Hawks see as the future.

The job of integrating all the young players now falls to head coach Lloyd Pierce.

“I think the beauty of it is competition,” Pierce said. “For the most part, we are all kind of on the same timeline now. What you get is you get healthy competition. You try to find cohesion. Can you play Cam and Trae (Young) together? And Cam and Kevin Huerter? How do you utilize the skill set without limiting a player’s ability?”

Hawks 2018-19 stats

The Hawks added De’Andre Hunter, Reddish and Bruno Fernando through in this year’s draft. They had three first-round picks in Young, Huerter and Omari Spellman last season. Young and Huerter turned into starters, joining John Collins who is about to enter his third season. They make up three-fifths of last seasons lineup. Center and small forward are current open positions.

Reddish acknowledge the young roster he is about to join.

“I feel like it’s a perfect fit,” Reddish said. “Young core. Super talented.”

The Hawks took their lumps last season as they deferred their young players more and more as the season progressed. They finished with a 29-53 record but earned valuable playing time for Young and Huerter. They plan to get Hunter and Reddish on the court next season, in part the reason for the Bazemore deal.

The direction of the rotation will be determined on the practice court, Pierce said.

“The competition aspect of it — Kevin gets Cam every day. Cam has to guard Kevin every day,” Pierce said. “I can’t ask for a better situation. Some of these guys want to play with the basketball in their hands. Well, they have to do it against DeAndre. I feel good because it’s a healthy young core of guys that will get to compete and push each other. It’s our job as a staff to create a competitive environment.”