NBA Betting: The Atlanta Hawks Offer Value Moving Forward
Entering tonight’s play, the Atlanta Hawks have the worst record in the NBA. At 8-29, there’s nothing particularly fluky about the team’s results so far. Atlanta’s Expected Win-Loss record is 7-30, and its net rating of -9.4 is the worst in the league. Let’s take a look at the Hawks’ season and why it may be time to buy low on this young team.
With only eight wins from its first 37 games, Atlanta is on pace for 21 wins. It’s a distant memory now, but it’s important to note that the Hawks’ preseason win total was 33.5, suggesting this team has dramatically failed to meet market expectations. Atlanta won 29 games in 2018-2019 and a step forward was anticipated. The Hawks even became a somewhat trendy playoff pick. Atlanta now need to go 26-19 from here on out to hit its number, and while not impossible, it’s incredibly unlikely.
The season actually started very well for Atlanta. The Hawks opened with two straight wins, and put up a great effort in a two-point loss against title-contender Philadelphia. Trae Young was spectacular out of the gates, averaging 38.5 PPG, 7.0 RPG, and 9.0 APG as the team opened up 2-1 SU and 3-0 ATS. After a pair of home-and-home defeats to Miami, the biggest moment of Atlanta’s season happened off the court. Budding star John Collins was suspended for 25 games. While Young rallied his team to a win over San Antonio in the first game without his running mate, Atlanta utterly collapsed, going 3-21 SU in the last 24 games of Collins’ suspension. Two of those wins came against a decimated Golden State team and a poor Charlotte group, who rank 28th and 26th in net rating, respectively. There was plenty of humiliation along the way. Atlanta gave up 150 points to the Clippers in mid-November, and lost by 49. It closed the month out with a staggering 158-111 loss at Houston. December saw a 34-point loss to Chicago and an embarrassing 143-120 defeat at the Knicks.
Despite it all, there may just be some light at the end of this weary tunnel. Collins has returned and looks to have his legs back under him. Over the last four games, Atlanta is 2-2 SU and 3-1 ATS. The only spread loss came by half a point against the Denver Nuggets. Perhaps most impressive is how Atlanta has fared in this stretch, despite facing quality opposition. First, there was a 103-93 road win at Orlando, despite being without Trae Young. Then, the Hawks competed hard against Boston at TD Garden, leading by 18 at one point, before losing 109-106 as a 10.5-point dog. Then, the high-point of a tough season. On the second night of a back-to-back, Atlanta notched its only quality win of the season, beating Indiana by five. Trae Young was simply incredible, carrying the team while John Collins rested. Young had 41 points on 12-for-23 from the field, to go along with eight assists. He followed up that performance with an even more efficient 29 points on 12 shots in a 123-115 defeat against Denver. Collins went for 17 points and five rebounds, but his impact is not simply in his own counting stats. Collins completely changes how defenses have to prepare for both this team in general, and Trae Young specifically. Collins and Young have wonderful chemistry and can be one of the best pick-and-roll duos in the game. Collins has incredible potential, but he’s also already able to take over games in this league. His presence also just makes this whole roster make so much more sense. Players like Cam Reddish and Jabari Parker should also become more effective as their minutes and usage go down to more reasonable levels. Collins’ size and ability also helps the Hawks’ other young star, sharpshooter Kevin Huerter. He has struggled to start the season, as he has dealt with injury. Over the last three games, Huerter is 13-for-24 from beyond the arc. Atlanta has struggled from distance all season, shooting a league-worst 32.1%, over the last four games, the team is shooting 36.6%.
Wednesday’s game at home against Houston will provide a useful measuring stick for how real Atlanta’s improvement actually is. The Hawks were utterly dismantled last time the two teams played but the Hawks have held their own against other quality opposition in the last three games, so this should not be a huge step up in class. After Houston, Atlanta has a run of four winnable games. First, comes a game against a banged up Wizards club, and that’s followed by a matchup with the struggling Brooklyn Nets, losers of six in a row. Then, Atlanta welcomes Phoenix, who have to fly across the country on a one-day turnaround to face the Hawks. Lastly, a battle against a San Antonio team the Hawks beat without John Collins. While this team is still mightily flawed, the public perception may be lagging somewhat behind Atlanta’s recent form, and this next run could provide patient bettors with a bit of value, because of how bad things were for so long.