Houston Rockets – Team 1: Atlanta Hawks
The Atlanta Hawks spent the offseason surrounding their franchise superstar, Trae Young, with enough firepower to storm Normandy. Unfortunately, the team’s offense hasn’t taken off and they’re unusually beholden to Young’s production.
In games that Young has a true-shooting percentage above 46-percent, the Hawks are 6-2, but when he is below that marker the team has gone 0-5. The Hawks have hitched their wagon to Trae Young and built a roster where every player is at their best playing off of him.
When Young is on fire the Hawks can torch opponents but when he’s off they’re basically the Detroit Pistons. Victor Oladipo is the perfect solution to the Hawks Trae Young problem.
Oladipo, when Young is struggling, can initiate the offense and make sure that everyone else can stay in their preferred role, but when Young is cooking he’ll be able to slide down the pecking order and feed from Young’s benevolent hand.
The Hawks have a good roster but are 6-7 because they’re asking one player to be excellent every night to have a chance. Their approach will lead to impressive stats from Young, but in the end, they won’t win enough games to scare any of the elite teams in the Eastern Conference.
To pry Oladipo from the Rockets the Hawks will need to send John Collins and Tony Snell to Houston. Collins is exactly the type of player that the Rockets were targeting when they were shopping James Harden.
He is young and productive but unfortunately, he is on an expiring contract. The Rockets would have to extend him for this trade to make sense but at only 23-years-old, Collins’ best days are ahead of him.
Collins has asked for max money and it’s completely mystifying that the Hawks have not yet inked him to a long-term deal. Over the past three seasons, Collins has averaged 19.8 points and 9.6 rebounds per game on 37.1-percent 3-point shooting and 56.7-percent shooting from the field.
Standing at 6’9 Collins can play as a stretch four, a small-ball center, or a jumbo-sized small forward. A frontcourt with Christian Wood and Collins for the next half-decade would be a nightmare to defend.
Tony Snell is included for salary purposes but his $12.1 million salary is expiring after the season. This is the type of return that the Rockets were looking for when they shopped Harden, as it gets them young talent and makes them cheaper.
Collins won’t be cheap to extend, but he won’t cost $40 million a season like Harden and his timeline fits the franchise’s current trajectory. This deal makes the Hawks better this season and the Rockets better down the line, which is what both franchises seem to be valuing.