A MODEST PROPOSAL...
LAUNCH THE PROCESS 2.0
I'm not going to insult your intelligence by persuading you to be excited about the Hawks. People who will intently follow this team are either die-hard fans or degenerate gamblers. Atlanta is going to be bad. Sure, John Collins dunks are fun. Taurean Prince is a decent pro. And Trae Young may get a chance to shoot 30 threes in a game. But finding intrigue here will be difficult.
What Atlanta can do is have new coach Lloyd Pierce run a new-and-improved version of the Process that Pierce grew familiar with during his time as a Sixers assistant. He has an intimate relationship with losing—as well as the eventual rebirth. Pierce will certainly bring over some of Philly's best traits from the Process era, like playing fast and shooting threes.
One way Pierce can remix the old formula is by leaning a bit more on veterans. Vince Carter is in Atlanta this season, and he can provide some of the old-man know-how that Sam Hinkie often disregarded during his tenure. You can't call the Process a failure, but it may have failed some players (Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor). Giving an important role to an admired vet like Carter should help keep the young guys on track when the losses start to pile up. And they will pile up.
COACH LLOYD PIERCE
2017--18 RECORD: 24--58
PREDICTION: Miss playoffs
SG KENT BAZEMORE (91 [SI'S TOP 100 PLAYER RANKING])
SF TAUREAN PRINCE
PF JOHN COLLINS
C DEWAYNE DEDMON
PG TRAE YOUNG [ROOKIE/COLLEGE STATS]
The Hawks haven't had a player average more than 20 ppg since 2009--10, when Joe Johnson did it. Young scored at least 20 in 25 of his 32 games at Oklahoma.
PG JEREMY LIN [NEW ACQUISITION]
SG KEVIN HUERTER [ROOKIE/COLLEGE STATS]
PF OMARI SPELLMAN [ROOKIE/COLLEGE STATS]
(*) NEW ACQUISITION
(R) ROOKIE/COLLEGE STATS
(#) SI'S TOP 100 PLAYER RANKING
A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP ATLANTA
OBVIOUSLY THEY'RE in rebuild mode to the highest degree. I don't know if they were mimicking Golden State's big three by drafting [first-rounders] TRAE YOUNG, KEVIN HUERTER and OMARI SPELLMAN, but these guys are going to set the tone for the next three to five years.... Young got off to a slow start in summer league but then got better and better. He's going to be up and down this year, but I definitely thought he showed growth. Young needs to be a high-level playmaker, improve his shot selection and get stronger. He might feel more heat if Luka Donˇić [the third pick, traded by the Hawks to Dallas for Young] comes in and has a significantly better season right away, or if Collin Sexton [who went No. 8 to Cleveland] has a good year.... Huerter had hand surgery this summer, but he's going to be a big piece as a guy who can make plays off the bounce and shoot from range.... Spellman is going to be that floor spacer for them, the glue guy who's going to take care of the dirty work and hopefully complement JOHN COLLINS. I think they'll let the rookies get their warts this year—they need another top draft pick to get them over the hump anyway. JEREMY LIN and DEWAYNE DEDMON will help the young guys through the process.... When you saw Collins play last year, everything was in the paint. He has extended his shooting range, and that's just going to make him even more dynamic as a roller.... TAUREAN PRINCE gets lost in the shuffle, but he has the three-and-D skill set with some added offensive upside.