Atlanta Hawks: Predicting the starting lineup isn’t as easy as it looks

Mar 11, 2020; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young (11) reacts with forward John Collins (20) after a play against the New York Knicks in the second half at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 11, 2020; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young (11) reacts with forward John Collins (20) after a play against the New York Knicks in the second half at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports /

The Atlanta Hawks are about to start the regular season on Wednesday, and nobody knows what the starting lineup will be. To be honest, it’s hard to predict.

On December 23rd around an hour before 8:00 p.m., we’ll finally have some clarity on who the Atlanta Hawks starting lineup will consist of.

During the preseason, we saw a number of different lineups to start the games. Some seemed to work out from the jump, while others have their negative effects.

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When you have as much depth as the Hawks do now, there are a number of routes you can go within a starting lineup. You can go all-out on offense, or you could sprinkle some defense as well.

For now, we know for certain that Trae Young, John Collins, and Clint Capela will be starting on opening night. In all of the four preseason games, those three were your definite starters.

Young and Collins are the two best players on the team and have the most chemistry. They both provide an offensive boost, while Collins adds defensive impact as well.

Capela is by far the best center on the Hawks roster. After years of having uncertainty at the five spot, Capela will be a defensive anchor in the paint and a great lob partner to Young on offense.

This is where things could get tricky.

Just like Young, Collins, and Capela, De’Andre Hunter started in every preseason game. Hunter has shown improvement coming into his second year, looking more fluid and aggressive on offense, while also being a versatile defender that can guard four positions.

Coach Lloyd Pierce told Hunter that he was the best defender on the team, and defense is something the Hawks badly need in their lineup.

Hunter was also the starter last season at the three, so you can say he’s been holding down the fort for a while.

At this point, you may be asking: What’s so difficult about trying to figure out the starting lineup?

Well, there are two players that make this difficult, and it’s Bogdan Bogdanovic and Cam Reddish.

To start with Reddish, he’s shown improvement coming into his second year similar to Hunter. After spending the offseason training with Stephen Curry and guarding the likes of Kevin Durant, Reddish looks like he’s poised to be an up-and-coming two-way star.

The thing that jumps out when you watch Reddish now is his confidence. To start last season, he didn’t seem to know what to do, and when to do it. In the last two months of the season, things were beginning to slow down for him.

In the three preseason games that Reddish played in, he looked good coming off the bench and in the starting lineup.

Bogdan Bogdanovich is the unknown element in the Atlanta Hawks’ lineup

On the other side, you have Bogdanovic, who was the Atlanta Hawks’ best free agent signing this offseason.

Bogdanovic was brought on this team because of his offense and the ability to be a secondary ball-handler.

When Bogdanovic and Hunter were both in the starting lineup against the Magic, they looked good. Where they got exposed is against the Memphis Grizzlies.

The Grizzlies presented a defensive challenge for the Hawks, as they took advantage of Young and Bogdanovic. That will not be the only time that teams start seeking out those two, which could make it difficult to keep both of them in the game for an extended period at the same time. The Hawks are trying to become a good defensive team, and a backcourt of Young and Bogdanovic will make it hard to achieve that at times.

When Reddish and Hunter both started, things didn’t look any better on both sides of the ball. The Grizzlies were getting a lot of transition points, and this was the one game in the preseason where Hunter just didn’t have it.

Nonetheless, the Young-Reddish-Hunter-Collins-Capela lineup shows the most promise as a starting unit. With the improvement of both Hunter and Reddish, this lineup provides offense on all three levels, while also adding a surplus amount of versatility on defense.

Reddish has shown the ability to handle the ball as well, so the Hawks wouldn’t be losing much offense if Bogdanovic isn’t starting. Of course, you didn’t pay him that much to come off the bench, and then it looks like the Atlanta Hawks spent most of their cap space on two players to be in the second unit.

Things can definitely change as the season progresses, but what we’ve seen so far in the preseason, Reddish and Hunter deserve to fill out the last two spots to start the regular season on Wednesday.

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