Why You Should Feel Optimistic When Betting The Hawks

Wednesday, February 13, 2019 5:06 PM UTC

Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019 5:06 PM UTC

Before the season started, the Atlanta Hawks were a team many pegged as the odds-on favorite to get the number one overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft. With a new regime from the front office to the coaching staff, along with wholesale changes made to the roster, you can understand why. However, the team has been playing much better than anticipated and with four more wins added to their season total, they’ll surpass their preseason win-loss over-under (23.5).

It’s rare that you see a first year head coach with an undersized rookie point guard, see this much success early-on. Yes, they only have 19 wins, but they’re doing it on the backs of 20-year olds who are only getting better, and quickly. From the start of the season to January 11th, the Hawks won only 11 of 41 games. Since January 11th, the Hawks are 7-8 after a recent win against the L.A. Lakers. In this game specifically, you saw how Trae Young, John Collins and company impacted the game. And while the Lakers had opportunities to win this game, you have to give credit to the Hawks for coming up with a close win against the king, even if it is just the regular season.

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When Trae Young is on the floor, John Collins averages 24 PTS and 1.2 3P per 36 minutes, with a 61.6 FG% and a 40 3P%.

When Trae Young is off the floor, John Collins averages 21.3 PTS and 0.7 3P per 36 minutes, with a 47.5 FG% and a 22.7 3P%.

— Andy Bailey (@AndrewDBailey) February 10, 2019
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There’s a lot to criticize when you watch the Hawks, but they’re a tough team to face when you’re an opponent. Having a guy in Trae Young who can hit almost any shot on the floor, while being able to identify mismatches and passing lanes for teammates, paired with one of the most underrated big-men in the NBA, John Collins, gives you a chance to win every single night. When you factor in the way head coach Lloyd Pierce has them playing (ranked first in pace), it tires teams out and it’s difficult to withstand defensively. Offensively, as we saw with the Lakers, Collins does similar things to Rudy Gobert, where players aren’t willing to challenge the lane as much as they usually do. It adjusts the way teams and players play against them and in some cases, gets them out of their comfort zone.

Looking at the rest of the Hawks schedule, they won’t likely make the playoffs or even sniff that opportunity. But, their strength of schedule is ranked 16th in the league (.495 opponents average winning percentage), one of the easier remaining schedules in the NBA. Combine that with their most recent 15 game stretch, and you’ve got a team that could overachieve to expectations on a nightly basis.

Even with the All-Star break signaling the time teams generally look toward the future, this Hawks team just doesn’t fit that mold. Sure, we’d like to see them land a top draft pick, but I have a feeling these players and the coaching staff would prefer to get this young core more experience, similar to the game against the Lakers on the 12th of February.

The math says landing a top-draft pick may help this Hawks team, but there isn’t math for getting in-game experience early in your careers. Even the early Warriors in 2014 used the Clippers rivalry as a chance to get experience and motivate them.

So while we may write off the Atlanta Hawks as being playoff contenders, don’t write them off as a team that could win some games down the stretch and pull-off some upsets. This team has a very bright future and one that doesn’t need to rely on a ping-pong ball determining their fate.

Atlanta is still only 25-32 against the spread and people still aren’t giving this team enough credit for how well they’ve been playing. Currently, their net rating on the season is -7.08, while the past 15 games, it’s -5. There’s evidence that growth and progression is happening among all of their statistics and it translates with what you see on the floor. With that, I think they’re a good bet going forward and through the rest of the season depending on who they matchup and spreads.

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