The Atlanta Hawks Will Soon Boast Best Small Lineup in East

Atlanta Hawks, De'Andre Hunter (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Atlanta Hawks, De'Andre Hunter (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /
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Atlanta Hawks
Atlanta Hawks, De’Andre Hunter (Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images) /

As you know, prior to the draft  I was not a fan of the Atlanta Hawks drafting De’Andre Hunter. One of the main reasons why, is because even though he will likely begin the season as the team’s starting small forward, I ultimately feel his best position will be power forward, with the amount of small lineups that are being used around the NBA today. I correctly calculated that the Atlanta Hawks would have to give up the eighth pick, in any trade to ascend to a higher draft position. What I did not account for, was Cam Reddish falling to pick number ten. I was stunned when the Washington Wizards chose Gonzaga forward Rui Hachimura with pick number nine in the draft, paving the way for Cam to land in Atlanta. Now that the Hawks have both Hunter and Reddish, the pieces are lining up for  to the Hawks to have the best small ball lineup in the Eastern Conference in two years.

Atlanta Hawks Projected Small Ball Lineup

Point Guard: Trae Young

Shooting Guard: Kevin Huerter

Small Forward: Cam Reddish

Power Forward: De’Andre Hunter

Center: John Collins

The above Atlanta Hawks small ball lineup, has almost every element that such a lineup needs to frustrate opponents to no end. Shooting, dribbling, passing, quickness and length are traits that this lineup contains in abundance. This versatility will allow the Hawks small ball lineup to be extremely effective, both offensively and defensively.

Offensive Potency

With passing savant Trae Young orchestrating the attack, the Atlanta Hawks small ball lineup has the potential to be virtually indefensible, once all of the young players mature and adjust to NBA life. He will distribute the ball to the man with the best opportunity to score. The fact that his shooting range forces opponents to guard him from the parking lot, will also open things up for this potent lineup. Having an outstanding finisher like John Collins on the receiving end of those passes, ensures a high conversion rate. De’Andre Hunter adds a powerful transition finisher to the mix as well. One improvement area for Cam Reddish is finishing at the rim in the halfcourt, but he’s already a more than capable finisher in transition. Kevin Huerter who is known as more of a shooter, made nearly 60 percent of his shots from close range last year as well.

Should opposing coaches decide to use the strategy of trapping Trae Young, this unit has the ability and potential to scorch them badly from three-point range, once all of the young players perfect their shooting strokes. Young could potentially have four targets on the floor, that all shoot near, or above 40 percent from long-range. Kevin Huerter aka Red Mamba, is a terrific shooter who made almost 39 percent of his attempts from beyond the arch in his rookie season. He is likely to shoot the three-point shot, at well over 40 percent in the near future. De’Andre Hunter made nearly 44 percent of his threes from the college line last season, so his shooting should translate. Even big man John Collins shot the three at around 40 percent nearly all of last season, until a late slump dropped his percentage to 35. Cam Reddish was the worse of the quartet according to the numbers. However he was playing injured and is in the conversation with Kevin Huerter, for the best looking shot form on the entire team. Keep in mind that making 40 percent of your three-point field goals, is the equivalent of shooting 60 percent from the field. This will force teams play the Atlanta Hawks straight up much more often. This is very is bad news for rival teams, as it’s nearly impossible to contain Trae Young off the dribble with the floor spread, or him and John Collins in the pick and roll, without help defense.

This exciting small ball unit also contains multiple players that can create off the dribble. In addition to the maestro Trae Young, Cam Reddish is a very good ball handler and Kevin Huerter has solid handles as well. Cam Reddish brings the secondary ball handler that this team has needed for many years. This will allow coach Lloyd Pierce to run screens involving both Trae Young and Kevin Huerter, making the potent Atlanta Hawks offense even more dangerous. De’Andre Hunter isn’t the best ball handler or creator for others, but he is very much so capable of pushing the ball up court after a rebound. This will help the Atlanta Hawks continue to play at the league’s fastest pace.