Four stats to know behind the Hawks’ slow start to the season

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After a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals, the Atlanta Hawks had high hopes of entering the 2021-22 season with a healthy roster and renewed expectations.

During the first two weeks, it was nothing like what they expected, sitting at 4-8 of the season following the 110-98 defeat to the Utah Jazz.

With five straight losses, here are four stats that paint a difficult picture of their start to the season.

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7: Struggles on the road

Eight of the Hawks’ first 12 games this season have come from the State Farm Arena and have really struggled to find an away pace, now sitting at 1–7 of the season.

Their solo victory came against the humble New Orleans Pelicans, who lost star striker Zion Williamson for the entire year. It won’t be much easier for Atlanta after defeats to Warriors and Jazz, as he now travels to Denver to take on the nuggets.

It didn’t help that the Hawks had to face 76ers, Wizards, Nets, Suns, Warriors and Jazz all away at the start of the season.

111.5: The defense has a lot of work to do

The Hawks won’t stop you, but they have enough helpful defenders to protect the paint and athletic wing players to contest shots. But they aren’t doing much of either so far this season.

Their defense currently is 27th in the league, giving up 111.5 points for every 100 possessions. Only the Grizzlies, Pelicans and Hornets have a worse defense this season.

Clint Capela is still working to return after recovering from an Achillies problem in the offseason that limited his minutes during the first week of the season. Once back on the fly, the Hawks defense should arrive.

Though they need help on the edge, this week they had no answer for Steph Curry, who dropped a 50 piece on them in the bay.

Don’t get to the line

The most striking part of the Hawks’ early offensive fights was the lack of free throws.

After last season’s All-Star hiatus, they were fourth in free throws made (18.5) and seventh in attempts (23.1) and this season, that number has plummeted.

In 12 games they are making just 15.1 free throws out of 18.7 attempts per game, with point guard Trae Young recording a significant drop, with an average of his free throws dropping from 8.7 attempts per game last time. season at 5.3 in 2021-22.

A combination of teams anticipating Young’s moves and the new rules, working against players like Young and James Harden, who are professional at making contact, saw the Hawks star stare at the referees in search of a whistle.

“I don’t want to be fined too much, but it’s frustrating,” Young said last month.

“There are a lot of missed calls. It’s basketball. It’s lonely, it looks like they’re learning and they’re just – I don’t know. It’s frustrating.”

12: Is the rotation too deep?

One of the Hawks’ biggest strengths last season was the fact that they had so much depth in multiple locations that they were able to cover any injury problem … but what about when everyone is healthy?

During the preseason, finding chemistry proved difficult with so many guys out, but at the moment, Nate McMillan has 12 players averaging at least 10 minutes per game and seven different players north of over 20 minutes per night.

DeAndre Hunter, who lost most of the playoffs last season, has been huge for them this season, playing nearly 30 minutes a night, while Cam Reddish’s continued improvement has, at times, forced Kevin Huerter to the bench. Adding Delon Wright and Gorgui Dieng adding depth to their bench and rookie Sharife Cooper barely seeing the floor, the Hawks have plenty of players fighting for spin minutes that just aren’t there.

As they manage the roster between developing and trying to win, the front office may have to make some important decisions regarding their veterans as their young talent continues to blossom.

What’s next?

Fortunately for the Hawks, after their trip to Denver, they will return to the State Farm Arena for five home games.

They have turned their home arena into a fortress this season (3-1) and have a winning streak against the shorthand Bucks, Magic, Celtics, Hornets and Thunder.

Things are going badly for Atlanta at the moment, but the program hasn’t done them any favors so far. Let’s check back after this five match run and we’ll know a lot more about where they actually were.

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