Tis the season.
It is that time of year again, the time for player rankings and meaningless lists ahead of another NBA season. ESPN released their Top 100 NBA players this week, with five Atlanta Hawks cast members cracking the list this time around.
Coming in at No. 100 on the list was Bogdan Bogdanovic, who was No. 67 on last year’s edition.
With Dejounte Murray on board, Bogdanovic figures to come off the bench for Atlanta in a role he thrived in a season ago. In 27 starts, he averaged 12.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.7 assists in 29.4 minutes per game. In 36 games off the bench, he averaged 17 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.3 assists in 29.3 minutes per game with improvements in all shooting splits. A more concrete role could mean a jump.
Clint Capela came in at No. 79, which honestly feels a bit low. Capela has been one of the better defenders in the league with the Hawks and hasn’t shown much sign of regressing. Not sure the season for him slipping nearly 30 spots from No. 50 on last year’s list.
Capela remains one of the best rebounders in the game. After leading the league in boards in 2020-21, Capela was fourth overall last season (11.9 rebounds per game) and second overall in rebounding percentage (23.5%). Capela is also one of the top lob threats in the NBA — Trae Young-to-Capela led the NBA in alley-oops last season.
At No. 73, which again feels a bit low, sits John Collins. Collins saw his role reduced the past couple of seasons with Danilo Gallinari on the roster as a premier backup at his position. Collins was No. 54 on last season’s list, and definitely did not regress as a player last season.
Collins is one of the league’s premier posterizers who will dunk on anyone in his path — and it’s fun to watch. The man wore a shirt of himself dunking on Joel Embiid in the 2021 playoffs. He’s more than just a dunker, but man is it fun to watch him terrorize NBA rims.
Dejounte Murray comes in at No. 42. He is the highest ranked teammate Trae Young has ever had on this list. Murray made a big lead from No. 83 on the 2021 list.
Atlanta paid a pretty price to get Murray from San Antonio; now it’s time to see if he’s worth it. There are plenty of reasons to believe he will be, as Murray averaged 21.1 points, 9.2 assists, 8.3 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game last season. When Trae Young sits, Murray can run the show. When they share the court, he’ll still show how effective he can be.
Trae Young comes in at No. 16, one spot ahead of his No. 17 ranking from last season. Young was ranked between Jimmy Butler and Paul George on this year’s list.
One game to watch: Dec. 7 at New York. Trae loves the Garden. The Garden? Well, the fans there feel a certain way about Trae. Any time Young plays at MSG, it’s going to be must-see TV. Young only played there once last season, missing a Christmas Day game because of health and safety protocols, but he dropped 45 in a 117-111 Atlanta victory.
One huge question for 2022-23: How much will Dejounte Murray’s presence help Young? Murray gives the Hawks one of the best secondary ball handlers in the league and will ease some of the burden on Young for a team that is looking to bounce back after a disappointing 2021-22 season. Young’s efficiency took a jump last season and could take another one this season alongside Murray.