The Atlanta Hawks are a frustrated NBA franchise right now. After a run to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2021, the Hawks found themselves in the play-in game, which led them to a first-round match-up with the Miami Heat. The series ended in five games, with Miami winning 4-1.
The team took this as a cause for making changes to the team in the off-season, and they did. The Hawks mortgaged most of their future draft picks to acquire All-Star guard DeJounte Murray from the San Antonio Spurs. The Hawks sent the Spurs first-round picks for 2025, 2026, and 2027, and swingman Danilo Gallinari.
The trade gave Atlanta one of the best backcourts in the league, but that success hasn’t materialized on the floor. The Hawks sit at 31-30 and are currently in line to be in the “play-in” game section of the Eastern Conference. Now, they’ve let go of head coach Nate McMillan at the All-Star break and have brought in former Jazz head coach Quin Snyder.
What can coach Snyder do to save the team and get them back in playoff contention? Let’s see where the Hawks are struggling.
On-Court Struggles: Shooting and Defense
One of the biggest reasons ownership brought in a new coach was to try and fix Trae Young. He is having a down year, shooting a career-low in made 3-point percentage. Rumors have been flying around all season that Young plans to ask for a trade in the offseason.
Young has generally been an isolated shooter who uses his quickness to get off shots against bigger opponents. With the addition of Murray this year, he’s learning to be more of a spot-up shooter. That is affecting his percentage. He’s not the only person on the team struggling with their 3-point shot. The team’s overall 3-point percentage has gone from second in the league last year to 25th this year.
The Hawks have also consistently struggled on the defensive end. They’ve been a bottom-10 defensive team for the last few years, and those struggles continue this year. The Hawks allow an average of 117 points per game, ranking 21st in worst defense in the Association.
Off-Court Struggles: An Active Front Office
Off the court, there’s quite a lot of palace intrigue with the Hawks. Hawks owner Tony Ressler has empowered his son Nick, the Director of Business & Basketball Operations, to make personnel decisions. Nick’s new outsized role caused conflict with Travis Schlenk, the Hawks’ president of basketball operations.
The DeJounte Murray trade was an example of this. The rumor is that Nick Ressler was the driving force behind the move. Schlenk questioned the price the Hawks were willing to pay for the trade. Schlenk was rebuffed by Nick Ressler. That led to Schlenk stepping down from his position.
Ressler has surrounded himself with first-time NBA executives in former players Landry Fields and Kyle Korver. Surrounded by inexperience, it appears that the Hawks’ basketball decisions are being made by a 27-year-old with little experience & knowledge of the league.
It will be interesting to see if the change in coaching can get the team on the right path. Sometimes you just need some shots to go down to change your luck. In the case of the Atlanta Hawks, there are issues bigger than basketball at foot in Atlanta.