Atlanta is favored by 3 at home despite the Knicks’ winning streak
Don’t look now folks, but the New York Knicks are playing damn good basketball. The Knickerbockers were able to outlast the Detroit Pistons last night 95-92, giving them their fourth consecutive victory. Their four-game win streak puts them in a tie with the Bucks and the Thunder for the third longest active winning streak in the NBA right now! Meanwhile, the Hawks have been teetering back and forth in their recent outings, posting a 4-7 record over their last 11 games. The Hawks will be looking for a bounce-back victory tonight at home after their five point loss to the Celtics on Friday.
At the moment, Atlanta is one of the worst teams in the league. At 14-39, they are the third worst team in the NBA and one of just five other teams with a worse record than the Knicks. This comes as somewhat of a surprise since they are now in the third year of a rebuild. In fact, it is looking like Atlanta will finish even worse than they did last year when they posted a 29-53 record.
The one thing that the Hawks have going for them is their young talent. Of the team’s top five leading scorers this season, the oldest is Jabari Parker, who is just 24 years old. Power Forward John Collins has emerged as a critical piece to the future success of Atlanta. The former first round pick was decent in his first season in the league, posting an average of 10.5 points per game. However, his production has sky-rocketed ever since the team drafted Trae Young. Since the start of the 2018 season, the former Wake Forest big man has averaged 19.7 points per game along with 9.9 rebounds per game. This season, he is posting a career high in points and rebounds per game. The centerpiece of the Hawks is clearly Trae Young. The former Oklahoma Sooner was drafted fifth overall last year with the intention of being the next sports superstar in Atlanta. In just two short years, you can already see that he is living up to the hype. The 21 year old averaged 19.1 points per game and 8.1 assists per game in his first season in the league. He has elevated his game to the next level though this season. The young man is now averaging 29.3 points per game this year, which is the fourth most points per game in the entire NBA behind only James Harden, Giannis, and Damian Lillard. His statistical improvements also earned him a starting spot on the Eastern Conference All-Star team. Trae Young may not be as exciting as his draft counterpart Luka Doncic, but the kid has talent and is showing that this year.
The problem with the Hawks is that their team production is just not good enough. Despite having one of the league’s best scorers, the offense only puts up 109.4 points per game, that ranks them 21st in the NBA in scoring. That is pretty mediocre. When you combine that with the fact that they are allowing the second most points per game in the NBA, it becomes clear that this team still has a long way to go before they start to be competitive again. The Hawks are a lot like the Suns of the Eastern Conference: both teams have been going through a grueling rebuild for quite a few years now, but they both have a budding superstar to build their team around. Things are rough right now, but their is hope on the horizon for the Atlanta Hawks.
Despite their shortcomings, Atlanta is still favored by three points over the Knicks. To be honest, I like Atlanta to cover. I know the Knicks are playing hot right now, but I don’t believe New York will have enough offense to keep up with this team after trading away their leading scorer. The Hawks are not like the Pistons. Atlanta still has something to play for and has not been decimated by injuries. Even though Trae Young is questionable to play tonight, I am sure he will go out and be stellar as he has often been so many times this season. I think the Hawks will cover the spread and end the Knicks’ win streak.