The Atlanta Hawks are in an odd position as a young core has begun to emerge this season winning more games than expected. Whether or not winning is a positive is much debated for the Hawks and their fans.
When rebuilding picks are the most coveted pieces, for the Atlanta Hawks this season was about losing and getting more building blocks to put around Trae Young. Instead Young and a core of overachieving players are emerging and winning more often than expected.
Still, the Hawks sit near the bottom of the Eastern conference but they were expected to be one of the worst two teams. Instead they are playing every game hard, rarely getting blown out and winning games against good teams.
Trae Young has looked as good as expected and will be a building block for the future. Kevin Huerter the fiery headed rookie has emerged as well, blowing past all expectations showing athleticism and an impressive catch-and-shoot ability.
Huerter and Young have impressed but are still not the biggest stories of this season. John Collins has come back in his second season as a different player. He has become a double-double machine throwing down impressive dunks and hustling on a nightly basis.
One of my favorite ways to describe Collins is that he is hustle itself personified. He gives everything on the court no matter the meaning of the game or the level of the opponent.
He plays for his team and he plays hard. Not only are these three players making names for themselves they are speeding up the rebuild process and showing that the Hawks made the right decision hiring Coach Pierce.
Some fans may not be thrilled with the Hawks winning more than expected considering their draft positioning. While in theory the Hawks should still have a great shot at a top three pick in their current position many fans seemingly want the Hawks to tank.
While this may seem like an attractive idea long term it isn’t the right one for a young team who is learning. Learning how to win games is one of the hardest things to do, basketball is a sport of hustle and momentum with the pendulum often swinging from one direction to the other.
With a deep draft upcoming and plenty of free agent targets fitting their system now is the time for Atlanta to learn how to win. Letting Young, Huerter, and Collins learn to work together to take over, or to defer to close a game is key to the Hawk’s rebuild.
Allowing them this chance not only makes them better players for the seasons to come but helps to reinforce a winning mentality in a losing culture. A skill these young building blocks must have if they are going to help the Hawks rebuild come to an end.