No matter what the Atlanta Hawks choose to do about Trae Young, trading Collins is a move that will help clear a logjam at forward, provide them with a more efficient floor-spacer at his position, and give them a more consistent defensive presence as well.
Of course, the Hawks could simply choose to move Collins to the bench, starting DeAndre Hunter in his stead. Especially if they don’t move Young and want to keep the player that he developed the most chemistry in that time.
In that event, wing AJ Griffin should be promoted to the starting lineup due to his 3-and-D upside, with Bogdan Bogdanovic and Saddiq Bey coming off the bench behind them to continue providing firepower.
Ultimately, this would lead to the Hawks playing Collins more as a center moving forward, a move that could increase his impact on both ends. After all, he does have enough floor-spacing and shot-blocking potential to truly be a dynamic piece in that role. That said, this could necessitate a trade of not Clint Capela this offseason but 6-foot-8 big Onyeka Okongwu, who has only one season remaining on his rookie contract.
1 player Hawks must trade in 2023 NBA offseason
If the Atlanta Hawks trade Onyeka Okongwu, targeting a young guard that can play behind Trae Young and give them a playmaking punch would be ideal.
Looking at the NBA landscape, the Dallas Mavericks could provide the most interesting backcourt option for the Hawks in 20-year-old combo guard Jaden Hardy.
Hardy averaged 8.8 points per game as a rookie in 2022-23, coming alive in the spring, as he averaged 13.4 points per game on 45.3 percent shooting from the field and 45.8 percent shooting from 3-point range in the final 16 games. Perhaps even more notable is that in the 10 games that Hardy played 20-29 minutes his rookie season, he averaged 18.1 points per game while shooting 50.0 percent from the field and 42.1 percent from 3-point range.
Now, of course with a player this young and that has so much upside, there’s no way that the Mavs would happily relinquish him. That said, Dallas is prioritizing All-Star guard Kyrie Irving in free agency. If they do manage to re-sign him, which they have a legitimate chance to do, they’ll focus on building an athletic defense around Kyrie and face of the franchise Luka Doncic.
Consequently, Okongwu could serve more purpose for them than Hardy.
Okongwu, an athletic big man that averaged 9.9 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks in 23.1 minutes per game is certainly the type of defensive piece that the Mavs are looking for. Especially with Okongwu capable of shooting outside of the paint but preferring to keep his game simple as a pick-and-roll finisher and lob threat.
Furthermore, with their starting center (Dwight Powell) and sixth man (Christian Wood) both set to become free agents this offseason, adding a frontcourt piece is even more imperative. It could also free them up from having to use their 10th overall pick on a big man and allow them to add the type of wing defender they believe they need. Notable because wings have a much easier time transitioning to the NBA from college than either centers or guards.
Back to Atlanta though.
Hardy could potentially be the most efficient outside threat the Hawks have in their backcourt, Bogdanovic included. That said, when Young takes his breathers, the opposing backcourt will no longer see that as a time to rest.
The future outlook for Hardy is promising as well, with Young and Dejounte Murray the perfect players to help him elevate his game as a passer and defender. Furthermore, in the event that the Hawks end up trading Young or lose Murray as a free agent in 2024, having Hardy on the roster would be better than the alternative.