The All-Star game showed what the Atlanta Hawks are missing
This weekend was all about star power for Atlanta Hawks fans and the rest of the NBA world. The Hawks are set to start the “second half” of their schedule with the same roster that led them to a 28-30 record. In reality, they’ve played nearly 71 percent of their schedule and the roster is virtually the same that led them to the Eastern Conference Finals last season.
Yet, as the All-Star festivities took over, culminating in the All-Star game on Sunday night, one thing was painfully clear.
The Hawks are still short on the requisite star power to win a title.
There isn’t some magic formula for determining this that requires you to be a wizard of advanced analytics. Nor would the eye test have to be extensive to identify the problem; this is not an Xs and Os issue. Just before the break, Devin Booker tweeted out a photo of the Phoenix Suns would-be 19-game win streak that was broken up by the Hawks. It did a good job of illustrating what the ceiling is for this current group. So it would seem counterintuitive to now suggest they are still a piece or two away from a championship.
None of the top title contenders have just one All-Star representing their team in this weekend’s events.
The closest argument one could make is the Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers but Ben Simmons and Kyrie Irving have both been to multiple All-Star selections while James Harden is a former MVP on top of all of that.
Bam Adebayo of the Miami Heat is also a former All-Star.
That win over Phoenix was a peak performance for a team that has struggled with consistency this season. But how will they be able to navigate if something were to happen to Trae Young for an extended period? They are 2-3 without him this season and 9-13 all-time. That is both incredibly fortunate that he’s held up as he has and also playing with fire.
The Suns are expected to be without Chris Paul for the next 6-8 weeks after he was diagnosed with an avulsion fracture in his thumb. Phoenix is undoubtedly happy to have Booker carry the load while Paul is on the mend.
They are currently six games up on the Golden State Warriors for the top seed in the West.
Hawks fans will recognize the injury as the same one Bogdan Bogdanovic had in his knee last season. He also missed time recently after experiencing swelling in that knee.
Young had himself a night in his second All-Star start, recording 13 points and a game-high 10 assists joining teammate Joel Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo of Team LeBron as the only two players to record double-doubles in the exhibition.
He also had some nice lobs to Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant.
Young didn’t accomplish his goal of catching a lob and wasn’t particularly efficient. But it was something else he said over the weekend that drives the optics of the weekend home.If the Hawks want the same thing they had better hope someone else emerges as that second All-Star. Clint Capela and John Collins were the closest and neither was particularly so coming in 22nd and 23rd, respectively, in the fan vote. Collins finished 20th in the player vote while Capela was 50th.