- The Pick: Under 24
- Confidence: 8 out of 10
The case for the under: Someone’s got to be terrible, and the Hawks have the furthest to go. They don’t have a franchise-defining star yet, pending Trae Young’s performance. They have a rookie head coach, and that could be good or bad, but it’s at least an unknown.
Atlanta also traded its third overall pick, which could have been Luka Doncic, for Young and a future first, which signals their pursuit of asset acquisition. The same can be said for their rent-a-space with Carmelo Anthony.
You don’t do those things and then try to win games if you’re way under .500 at the All-Star break. You tank. And beyond that? There’s a gap in teams trying to tank this season, as opposed to 2017-18. That puts Atlanta in the driver’s seat for a sub-20-win performance.
The case for the over: That number is pitifully low, the lowest on the board, lower than the total for the Kings. The trade of Dennis Schröder didn’t return anything of value, but honestly, moving him might be addition by subtraction.
Don’t read too much into Young’s horrible summer league: He was the best player on the court playing an unstructured offense, which is not a good environment for his skill set.
Young needs to be in a system that enables him, and Atlanta will look to do just that.
There’s some talent here, more than most realize.
John Collins is going to be an impactful big. Taurean Prince was quietly very good. Jeremy Lin is a capable starter if Young needs time. Alex Len — and I can’t believe I’m saying this — was quietly decent-to-good last year. Dewayne Dedmon is a great defensive presence.
To gain wins, I believe you have to have things you can count on, sure things. The Hawks have almost nothing you can feel confident in.
A new coach makes me a little unsure, the good role players give me a little pause, but overall, this team seems like the best candidate to have the league’s worst record.
It’s part of their directive, and they won’t leave it up to chance with more than 25 wins.