Atlanta Hawks Fall On Hard Times While Missing Two Key Players

Atlanta Hawks, Lloyd Pierce (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Atlanta Hawks, Lloyd Pierce (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

The Atlanta Hawks, losers of four games in a row after last night’s loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, have fallen on hard times. With a couple of key players missing for an extended period, the Hawks will have to figure out how to stop the bleeding.

John Collins and Kevin Huerter, two key pieces for the Atlanta Hawks, are both missing. Collins for his 25 game suspension and Huerter is out for the next month with a shoulder injury. With those two pieces missing, the Hawks have had to call on De’Andre Hunter, Jabari Parker, Vince Carter, and Cam Reddish to replace the minutes and production. While, at different points in the last 5 games, these four have played well, the results haven’t equaled wins for the Atlanta Hawks.

Since losing John Collins to suspension, the Hawks have lost 7 of their 8 games. Since Kevin Huerter exited the Denver Nuggets game, the Hawks started their four-game losing streak. Now, the losing streak can be chalked to who the Hawks have played in that time, the Suns, Lakers, Clippers, and Bucks. All four of those teams are in the top eight of their conference, and will likely make the playoffs, with the Suns being the big maybe of that group. It’s no coincidence that the Hawks have fallen on hard times since losing two of their best players.

When taking a look at last season’s stats, the Hawks lineups with the most minutes include John Collins and Kevin Huerter. Out of the three lineups, the Hawks have positive net ratings in two of the lineups that include Collins and Huerter. The lineup that played the most together last season has a negative net rating of 4. Compare that to the lineups without Collins or Huerter in the game from last season and the negative net rating is negative 22 and 23.

Compare that to the two lineups that have played the most this season, and the negative net rating is in the 20s. The Hawks are a different, much better team when John Collins and Kevin Huerter are in the lineup together and with Trae Young. Parker, Hunter, Reddish, and Carter just aren’t enough to replace the level of play that Collins and Huerter bring to this team.

Unfortunately, the Hawks will not be getting Collins back until mid-December and Huerter around New Year’s. The goal for this Hawks team should be not to crater into itself while waiting for two of their top-three players to get back. The Hawks schedule will become, slightly, less difficult as they move through the rest of November and December. Games with Detroit, Charlotte, and Golden State should be winnable games for this young team. However, games with Milwaukee, Houston, Miami, LA remain on the Hawks schedule through the holiday season. The goal should be keeping your head above water while they wait for their reinforcements to return.

If there was a silver lining in last night’s loss with the Bucks, it was the two rookies. Cam Reddish and De’Andre Hunter both had the best games of their careers last night. Reddish finished with 17 points on 60 percent shooting from the field and 3-3 from deep. Hunter, however, was the star, finishing with 27 points, 11 rebounds, and 2 assists. Both players looked comfortable and more confident than ever, both good signs for the team.

The Atlanta Hawks have hit a wall since their 2-0 start. Lloyd Pierce will have to figure out how to keep these guys from getting too down as the losses pile up with such a young core of players. It’s up to veterans like Vince Carter and Jabari Parker to keep these young guys focused and motivated through these difficult stretches. With the Pistons up next, the Hawks have a great opportunity to break the losing streak and start building back some of that confidence they started the season with.