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On paper, the Atlanta Hawks don’t appear to be a very talented team. They look like they are one of the worst teams in the league and will likely receive a high lottery pick at the 2019 NBA draft.

However, the Hawks surprised many people by not trading veterans Kent Bazemore, Jeremy Lin or Dewayne Dedmon before the NBA trade deadline. Perhaps the Hawks will pursue buyouts with some of the veterans but that idea seems unlikely because they lose value by buying them out. They could have received a draft pick had they just traded the veterans for assets.

While it is possible that college phenom Zion Williamson will be an Atlanta Hawk, the likelihood of that becoming a reality will decrease because of the shifted lottery odds this season. Rather than the worst team receiving 25 percent odds of the top pick like in previous seasons, they would only receive a 14 percent chance to snag the top pick. With Zion unlikely to don a red and white jersey, perhaps the Hawks should gear up for a potential playoff push rather than another lottery-bound season.

Currently, their only recent lottery pick is 2018 fifth overall pick Trae Young, a player they acquired from the Luka Doncic trade. Many media members and fans were criticizing the trade because of Doncic’s stellar season, who is currently averaging around 20.5 points per game, 7 rebounds per game, and 5.5 assists per game, numbers comparable to a rookie LeBron James. While Doncic is clearly the number one player in the draft so far, and will likely run away with the rookie of the year award, that isn’t to discount Trae’s rookie season either. Trae is a very talented player in his own right as he is averaging 16.8 points per game and 7.4 assists per game.

Beyond Trae, the Hawks also have a talented youngster in John Collins, who is currently averaging a double-double on the season with 19.4 points per game and 10 rebounds per game. Collins was not a lottery pick like Trae, but was selected with the 19th overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft.

Atlanta found another potential gem in Kevin Huerter who was a late first round pick in the 2018 NBA draft. While he still has a long way to go in terms of developing into a starting calibre player, he has shown flashes of potential and is averaging just under 10 points per game on 39 percent shooting from three. Many have compared his ceiling to a poor man’s Klay Thompson.

The Hawks should win as many games as possible. Doing so would build a winning culture for the young guys and sneaking into the playoffs wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world as the Hawks have shown that they are able to find talent outside of the lottery.

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