If you’ve been living under a rock, I’ll be the first to tell you the Hawks will be major players this offseason. Atlanta had an incredibly disappointing year that ended via a gentleman’s sweep at the hands of Miami following a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals the previous postseason. Travis Schlenk and Tony Ressler have been quite outspoken regarding their intentions this summer — change.
The only immovable player is Trae Young; the rest of the roster should all be on notice. Atlanta desperately needs a secondary scoring option to alleviate the pressure on their star point guard, but their defense must be upgraded as well. One name that has consistently been mentioned is Rudy Gobert, which I have been quite outspoken about not supporting.
I can’t be more clear when I say this: I DO NOT WANT RUDY GOBERT. However, there is no denying the fact that the Frenchman would make the Hawks better. If you have the chance to land one of the 30 best players in the NBA, you have to do it. Gobert is a generational defender and one of the best finishers in the Association. Despite Donovan Mitchell being an excellent scorer, he doesn’t hold a candle to Trae Young’s ability to facilitate. Gobert has never played with a point guard like him.
Much like Ben Simmons, the fit would be seamless. Each balances the other out so smoothly. The Hawks would still have to address their perimeter defense, but Gobert would make an excellent pair with Young. Still, he’s on a max contract, and he’s not that much better than Clint Capela, in my opinion — not $20 million better, at least.
Another center the Hawks have been rumored to have interest in is Deandre Ayton, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report. The former No. 1 overall pick wanted a max extension, and the Suns don’t seem keen on that idea, creating tension between the two sides.
Ayton averaged 17.2 points on 63.4% shooting from the field and 10.2 rebounds per game. However, he’s just not the defensive force Gobert is and is probably only marginally better than Capela, if at all. He was inconsistent this past season, and Pheonix’s defense was actually better with him off the floor by 2.3 points per 100 possessions.
In the postseason, the inconsistencies continued, but I still think several teams will be willing to pay the big man max contract money. I just hope it won’t be the Hawks. To spend $35-40 million per year on a center that can’t spread the floor and isn’t an elite defender is gross incompetence. It would handcuff the team for years to come, and I don’t think Schlenk is that naive.