The Atlanta Hawks lost at home to the Miami Heat 106-97 Thursday. This marks a 3-game losing streak, but it’s not all bad. The Hawks were missing Trae Young, who missed out due to a right ankle sprain. So, while the Hawks lost, we learned a lot about their young team.
For starters, the team showed incredible promise and upside. While there were many points of the game where the team looked very much like a below .500 squad, there were many points in where they looked like they could be an underdog in a mediocre Eastern Conference.
So, what can the Hawks look to improve?
First, the young guys need to remain calm, regardless of the situation. Rookie Cam Reddish found himself flinging up circus shots in the second quarter, something he even addressed in the post-game interview. “I gotta slow down…let the game come to me. Just play my game. I’ll be perfectly fine,” Reddish said.
With the Hawks turning to young guys like Reddish and guard Kevin Huerter in the absence of Trae Young, it is crucial that the young core build up their maturity quickly. While we didn’t see this in full Thursday, we saw signs of maturity that should excite any Hawks fan.
Reddish showed glimpses of us his ability to facilitate the game playing as a point guard, a position he has limited experience. Hawks fans can expect an interesting season out of the Duke alumnus.
While Head Coach Lloyd Pierce didn’t see the best production from his young guys, Jabari Parker and Deandre’ Bembry stole the show off the bench. Parker finished the game with a season-high 23 points and found himself leading the charge on a late 3rdquarter drive. Bembry added to this spark with 18 points, 10 rebounds, and 8 assists. After the game, Coach Pierce had only positive things to say about the two.
“I’m really proud of Deandre’ Bembry [and] Jabari Parker. I thought those two guys really gave us a spark and created some energy,” Pierce said. Looking ahead, the Hawks perimeter defense seemed to be nonexistent. This will have to change for things to turn around. The Heat was able to put 14 threes up, pushing them into a deficit they were never able to recover.
The Hawks also struggled to guard the interior. Forward Bam Adebayo finished with 12 points and 6 rebounds, and center Meyers Leonard finished with 16 points and 8 rebounds.
With pretty much every aspect of the Hawks team being young, it’s hard to criticize them too much, as they are a work in progress, but looking into the future, defending the paint is definitely something the Hawks need to prioritize.
On the flip side, a rookie that is showing extensive promise is Miami Heat guard Tyler Herro. Herro came off the bench for head coach Erik Spoelstra Thursday but played a massive 30 minutes. Herro finished the game with 17 points, 9 of those coming off the three-ball. Herro seemed to kill any Hawk’s attempt to bring the game back.
If Herro continues his impressive play, averaging 16.7 ppg, he has to be a front runner for the NBA’s Rookie of the Year Award.