After a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals, the Atlanta Hawks had high hopes as they enter the 2021-22 season with a healthy roster and renewed expectations.
For the first two weeks, it hasn’t been anything close to what they expected, going 4-8 on the season after their 110-98 loss to the Utah Jazz.
With five losses in a row, here are four stats that paint a difficult picture of his start to the season.
7: fights on the road
Eight of the Hawks’ first 12 games this season have come off State Farm Arena, and they have really struggled to find any rhythm on the road, now at 1-7 on the season.
Their only road win was against the humble New Orleans Pelicans, who have been losing star forward Zion Williamson all year. It won’t be much easier for Atlanta after the losses to the Warriors and Jazz as they now travel to Denver to face the Nuggets.
It didn’t help that the Hawks had to face the 76ers, Wizards, Nets, Suns, Warriors and Jazz all on the road at the start of the season.
111.5: The defense has a lot of work to do
The Hawks aren’t going to hold you back, but they have enough helpful defenders to protect the paint and athletic wing players to contest shots. But they’re not making much of either of them so far this season.
Your defense currently ranked 27th in the league, yielding 111.5 points for every 100 possessions. Only the Grizzlies, Pelicans and Hornets have a worse defense this season.
Clint Capela is still working his way back after recovering from an offseason Achillies problem that limited his minutes during the first week of the season. Once you’re back in mid-flight, the Hawks defense should appear.
While they need help at the rim, they had no answer for Steph Curry this week, who threw a 50-piece at them in the Bay.
Not reaching the line
The most obvious part of the Hawks’ early offensive struggles has been their lack of free throws.
After the All-Star break last season, they were fourth in free throws taken (18.5) and seventh in attempts (23.1) And this season, that number has plummeted.
Across 12 games, they are making just 15.1 free throws in 18.7 attempts per game, with point guard Trae Young experiencing a significant drop, with an average free throws dropping from 8.7 attempts per game last season to 5.3 in 2021-22. .
A combination of teams that anticipate Young’s moves and the new rules, which work against players like Young and James Harden, who are pros in seeking contact, have seen the Hawks look to officials for a whistle.
“I don’t want to be fined too much, but it’s frustrating,” Young said last month.
“There are a lot of missed calls. It’s basketball. It’s just, it feels like they’re learning, and I just don’t know. It’s frustrating.”
12: Is the rotation too deep?
One of the Hawks’ greatest strengths last season was the fact that they had so much depth at multiple positions that they were able to cover any injury issues … but what happens when everyone is healthy?
During the preseason, finding the chemistry proved difficult with so many players out, but today, Nate McMillan has 12 players averaging at least 10 minutes per game and seven different players north of more than 20 minutes per night.
DeAndre Hunter, who missed most of the playoffs last season, has been huge for them this season, playing nearly 30 minutes a night, while Cam Reddish’s continuous improvement has, at times, forced Kevin Huerter to sit down. On the bench. Add in Delon Wright and Gorgui Dieng who add depth to their bench and rookie Sharife Cooper barely sees the court, the Hawks have a ton of players fighting for rotational minutes that just aren’t there.
As they manage the roster between development and trying to win, the front office may have some big decisions to make regarding their veterans as their young talent continues to flourish.
Fortunately for the Hawks, after their trip to Denver, they will return to State Farm Arena for a five-game home stay.
They’ve turned their home stadium into a fortress this season (3-1) and have a number of winnable games against the Bucks, Magic, Celtics, Hornets and Thunder, who are in short supply.
Things are looking tough for Atlanta right now, but the schedule hasn’t done them any favors so far. Let’s come back after this five-game race and we’ll know a lot more about where they really are.
Views on this page do not necessarily represent the views of the NBA or its clubs.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.