With NBA training camp less than two weeks away it is time to preview this upcoming season. The league is filled with a lot of great young talented players, and now it time to preview some exciting young cores you should tune in to watch this season. The Atlanta Hawks and the Chicago Bulls are part one of this three-part series.
There has been a lot of excitement brewing around the young core of the Atlanta Hawks this upcoming season. What the front office has done over the last few years rebuilding the roster has been nothing short of incredible.
The Hawks are now five years removed from winning 60 games and earning the number one seed in the eastern conference. The top players left for free agency, and there was the front office debacle involving then general manager Danny Ferry.
Ferry reportedly made some disparaging comments in a scouting report about then free agent Luol Deng. Ferry would be absolved of any wrongdoing, but the damage had been done. Ferry was eventually bought out, and the Hawks brought in Travis Schlenk to run their basketball operations.
Schlenk had worked his way up to the assistant general manager position with the Golden State Warriors, after starting out as a video coordinator. Schlenk is credited for scouting Draymond Green and of course the Warriors took him in the second round. Schlenk quickly went to work putting his version of the Warriors together in Atlanta.
Schlenk would hire young respected longtime NBA assistant coach Lloyd Pierce. Pierce is known through NBA circles as an outstanding player development coach, who can relate to players well.
With the Hawks in the midst of a rebuild, Pierce was the perfect hire. Schlenk’s draft record has been stellar so far. He first drafted John Collins 19th overall, who was not a highly touted draft pick coming out of Wake Forest. The explosive pick n roll forward has been a key piece and makes up one half of a young potent duo.
The biggest and most controversial move he made was trading Luka Dončić for Trae Young. Many people thought it was a huge mistake, but Schlenk felt he was getting a player that reminded him of Steph Curry, but with better vision and playmaking skills. Young is the second part of that explosive pick n roll duo. With his passing ability and Collins ability to catch and finish from anywhere near the paint they remind basketball fans of that Nash, Stoudemire pick and roll duo that was the key to those explosive Phoenix Suns teams.
After a rough start, early Young closed his rookie campaign on a terror and made a push to be considered rookie of the year.
In the same draft, he was able to select a 6’7” shooting guard Kevin Huerter out of Maryland. Another player who was not highly regarded. In the Dončić deal, Schlenk also was able to get two draft picks in return.
They were able to trade up and use the number four pick to draft De’Andre Hunter a 3D wing from the national champion Virginia Cavaliers. The Hawks was able to snag arguably the most talented prospect in the draft Cam Reddish with the tenth pick.
The moves the Hawks made led by Schlenk quickly turned the Atlanta Hawks into one of the most exciting young cores in the league. They are definitely going to be a must-watch on league pass this season.
Mark this down the Atlanta Hawks will contend for a playoff spot this season, especially if those talented rookies can hit the ground running this year.
The Chicago Bulls are still in rebuilding mode as they continue to remove the stink of disappointment from the injury plague Derrick Rose years, and the confusion and at times weird moments from the Jimmy Butler and Head Coach Fred Holiberg era.
They have recently have done a great job in the draft, and in the process have been able to build and exciting young core in the Windy City. Through the Jimmy Butler trade they were able to draft with the 7th pick skilled pick and roll big man Lauri Markkanen. Markkanen has proven to be a high valued asset that can stretch the floor with his shooting.
The super talented big man played his college ball for the University of Arizona, but is from Finland. They also traded for high flying, electrifying Zach LaVine and signed him to a long term contract.
They drafted big man out of Duke Wendall Carter Jr. with the 7th pick. Pairing Markkanen with Carter makes them a potent front court duo. Carter more than makes up for Markkanen’s short comings on the defensive in with his rim protection ability.
Seven’s must truly be lucky, because the Bulls drafted talented point guard out of North Carolina Coby White with the seventh pick in this past summer’s draft. White is expected to run the show and take command of this talented young Bulls lineup.
To cap offer there stellar draft the Bull selected Daniel Gafford with 38th pick in the second round. Gafford was seen as a player with a lot of potential an upside coming into the draft. He showed the Bulls his potential in the Las Vegas summer league and the Bulls signed him to a contract.
The Bulls have made several missteps in the last few seasons ever since Derrick Rose went down. Through some great trades and great draft picks the Bulls finally look like they are back on track.
They also have an outside shot at making the playoffs. This hinges on the health of Markkanen and Carter Jr. who both have missed significant time early in their promising careers. Make sure to add the Bulls to your must watch list as well.