The Atlanta Hawks will hope a rebuilt rotation will be enough to climb the standings in the Eastern Conference.
After losing to the Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs last season, Atlanta added a key piece this summer with the trade for Dejounte Murray. The organization also acquired veterans Justin Holiday and Maurice Harkless while drafting high-upside guard AJ Griffin.
These players join a rotation with two-time All-Star Trae Young and impact centers/forwards Clint Capela and John Collins, creating a dangerous lineup that can match up with nearly anyone in the league.
The Hawks also gave up several key players from last season, though, losing Kevin Huerter and Danilo Gallinari in trades and Delon Wright to free agency. These players ranked second, fifth and eighth in minutes played in 2021-22, respectively, and won't be easy to replace.
It creates some question marks, but expectations are high heading into 2022-23.
2022-23 Hawks Schedule Details
Season Opener: Oct. 19 vs. Houston Rockets
Championship Odds: 55-1 (FanDuel)
Full Schedule: NBA.com
Miami Heat (First Game: Nov. 27)
The Boston Celtics won the Eastern Conference last season, but the Heat remain a team to beat after posting the best record in the league in 2021-22.
Miami also embarrassed the Hawks in the first round of the playoffs, cruising to an easy series win in five games.
Young was especially held in check, averaging just 15.4 points and 6.0 assists per game in the series on 31.9 percent shooting, including 18.4 percent from three-point range. He shot 5-of-23 from the field in the last two games, both losses.
On the other hand, the series was a breakout for De'Andre Hunter, who averaged 21.2 points per game with 35 scored in the Heat's clinching Game 5. The forward has the talent to take the next step, but he needs to show it more consistently.
This game could be an opportunity for Hunter to show his ability, Young to bounce back and the entire team to show it's a real contender in the East.
New York Knicks (First Game: Nov. 2)
While Young struggled against the Heat last year, he remains a star against the New York Knicks.
The point guard torched the Knicks during their 2021 playoff matchup, and he kept it up in the 2021-22 season, averaging 35.7 points in three games. In his last trip to Madison Square Garden, Young scored 45 points on just 25 shots.
It has made him one of the biggest enemies in New York City.
The Knicks were also targeting a trade for Murray before Atlanta swooped in for the former San Antonio Spurs guard.
You can be certain fans won't be too excited to watch Young and Murray play together against New York.
It could create an exciting atmosphere when the two Eastern Conference foes battle at MSG.
The backcourt experiment will be an interesting one as head coach Nate McMillan designs his offense around two guards who averaged over nine assists per game last season.
Murray, who set a career high with 21.1 points per game and earned his first All-Star selection, might have to concede some touches to the ball-dominant Young after joining Atlanta.
The addition is still a big one for the Hawks, giving the team a much-needed secondary scorer and an elite perimeter defender. With Murray's ability to match up with an opponent's top weapon and Capela's shot-blocking inside, Atlanta should improve significantly on the defensive end.
After finishing 26th in defensive efficiency last year, this will go a long way.
The Hawks might still be a step below the elite teams in the East—including the Heat, Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks—but they have the talent to compete with anyone and should be playoff-bound.
Considering this team reached the Eastern Conference Finals just two years ago, another deep run is possible.
Record Prediction: 48-34
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