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The NBA Team to Watch this Season

The Atlanta Hawks scored big time this year for the 2020 NBA Draft and free agency, where they added some big names to their roster. This was much needed after being left out of the Orlando Bubble and losing their chance at a shot in the playoffs last season. The Hawks have only been improving during their offseason and are expected to be a must watch team as the upcoming season quickly approaches. 

The Hawks selected forward/center Onyeka Okongwu for their sixth overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft where he was averaging 16.2 points, 8.6 boards, and 2.7 blocks in 28 appearances at the University of Southern California.  

“He’s a very, very good defensive basketball player,” Hawks General Manager Travis Schlenk said in regards to Okongwu. “He can protect the rim, he can rebound and he’s a very good pick-and-roll center with very good instincts. Offensively, he’s got unbelievable hands. He catches everything. He’s got the seven-foot wingspan and he can run the floor. So, we’re really excited about him.”

The Hawks also added guard Skylar Mays as the 50th draft pick. Mays was averaging 16.7 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 1.8 steals during his time at Louisiana State University. 

“We had Skylar ranked a lot higher (than No. 50),” Schlenk said of Mays. “A four-year guy, an extremely smart basketball player, a very good body, a combo guard, a high basketball IQ, skilled player. We were excited when he was there because, like I said, we had him ranked much higher than that.” 

A key asset the Hawks acquired from this free agency class is their addition of a two-time NBA champion, Rajon Rondo from the Los Angeles Lakers. On top of Rondo, they also acquired Danilo Gallinari from the Oklahoma City Thunder, Kris Dunn from the Minnesota Timberwolves, Solomon Hill from the Memphis Grizzlies, Bogdan Bogdanovic from the Sacramento Kings and more. This will help bring some much needed playmaking to the team as well as an increase in defensive quality, which is definitely needed for a Hawks team that was near the bottom of the league defensively last season.

The Hawks will be a whole new team this season thanks to successful off-season acquisitions. The team still has a young roster that has great potential for further development, especially alongside the new experienced players added to the team. Finding a way to build around the team’s star player Trae Young was a difficult blueprint to sketch out, but it looks as though they found a way to accent their young star by using their generous cap space wisely.  

The 2020-21 NBA season will officially begin December 22nd, but the preseason has already begun. The Hawks fell short in their first preseason game, but made a quick comeback Sunday against the Orlando Magic. Various outlets have predicted the Hawks for No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference this season, the first time they’ve been projected to be a playoff team in years. This will bring great excitement to Atlanta fans everywhere as they hope to see their team finally make the comeback that they have been craving.

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