NBA Daily: Rajon Rondo Brings Leadership, Playmaking to Clippers

The Atlanta Hawks had fairly the offseason. After a dreadful 2019-20 season wherein they completed 14th within the Jap Convention standings, Travis Schlenk utterly overhauled his roster. When the free agent market opened up, the Hawks dished out $158.2 million to usher in some fast upgrades.

The primary huge splash was the extremely sought-after Danilo Gallinari. That was the surface menace that they wanted to pair with both John Collins and/or Clint Capela. They added key veteran position gamers like Rajon Rondo, Solomon Hill, Tony Snell and Kris Dunn. They stole Onyeka Okongwu within the draft and didn’t lose a lot of something by way of on-court manufacturing.

Atlanta’s largest offseason addition was Bogdan Bogdanovic, who turned out there after the failed commerce between the Sacramento Kings and Milwaukee Bucks. The restricted free agent received a four-year, $72 million deal that included a participant choice.

On paper, the Hawks had been virtually assured to be a playoff crew. Their additions to the roster made them arguably the deepest crew within the league. The younger nucleus of Trae Younger, Kevin Huerter, De’Andre Hunter, Cam Reddish, Collins and Capela now had the expertise and veteran management to mildew them right into a playoff crew.

After three years of gathering losses in Sacramento, Bogdanovic was keen to begin successful on a constant foundation. The 28-year outdated capturing guard received off to a sluggish begin along with his new crew. He performed simply 5 video games in January earlier than being sidelined with an damage. He was averaging simply 5.6 factors per recreation whereas capturing 31 p.c from the ground.

Across the time of the All-Star break, Atlanta was extensively considered essentially the most disappointing crew of the season. The elements had been all there, however the completed product was removed from scrumptious. That is the place Atlanta’s season circled.

Sitting eleventh within the Jap Convention standings, the Hawks fired head coach Lloyd Pierce and named Nate McMillan the interim coach. Atlanta gained that first recreation below McMillan in opposition to the Miami HEAT, which additionally occurred to be the evening Bogdanovic returned after lacking 25 video games with an avulsion fracture in his proper knee.

After getting his legs again below him, Bogdanovic has returned to the participant we noticed in Sacramento. He averaged 11.2 factors per recreation within the month of March, whereas capturing 44 p.c from the ground and has actually come alive in his final eight video games. Up to now in April, Bogdanovic is averaging 21.6 factors per recreation whereas capturing 52 p.c from past the arc and 51 p.c general from the ground.

Bogdanovic has been extremely environment friendly capturing the ball, however he’s additionally caring for it extraordinarily properly. Together with the preseason, Bogdanovic has performed 33 video games this season and has by no means had greater than two turnovers in a recreation. A few of that is because of Younger having the second-highest utilization price within the league, however Bogdan nonetheless has the ball in his arms loads.

Usually, when a participant carries the scoring load, the crew loses. That has not been the case in Atlanta, the place Bogdanovic has scored 28 factors, 26 factors, 21 factors, and 32 factors in 4 video games this month. The Hawks gained all of these contests.

The skin capturing from Atlanta has been key to their latest success. As a crew, they’re capturing 37.2 p.c from behind the arc, which ranks eleventh within the league. Each Bogdanovic and Gallinari have performed a big a part of that, particularly in final week’s recreation in opposition to the New Orleans Pelicans the place the Hawks had been an ideal 11 of 11 from deep within the third quarter. They made 20 of their 31 three-pointers within the victory.

After the sport, Younger acknowledged the excellent play of his new teammate. “It’s nice to have him again and nice to have him again in a groove, too,” Younger mentioned. “Everyone has been form of feeding off him flattening photographs.” Gallinari summed it up properly after Friday’s victory over the Chicago Bulls. “The chemistry is getting higher.”

The Hawks had been 14-20 when McMillan took over teaching duties. They gained their subsequent eight video games and have now gained 15 of their final 20. Bogdanovic has performed in every a kind of video games, however they’re nonetheless lacking a few of their key gamers.

Collins stays out with an ankle damage, Hunter is out after a non-surgical process on his knee and Reddish will miss a minimum of 4 extra weeks. Younger, Gallinari and Snell are all day-to-day with minor points. The Hawks had been relying on Dunn to supply much-needed perimeter protection alongside Younger, however he has nonetheless but to play this season. Regardless of all of this, Atlanta owns the fourth-best document within the East.

When this crew returns to well being, they are going to be a crew that no one needs to face. They nonetheless aren’t on the stage of Brooklyn, Philadelphia or Milwaukee however they’re coming collectively on the proper time. The whole lot appears to be clicking for Atlanta. They haven’t had a style of postseason basketball for the reason that 2016-17 season. Now they simply may have the ability to host their first playoff recreation in State Farm Area, as one of many prime 4 seeds within the East.

There have been some darkish days in Atlanta, however going ahead, the longer term for this crew is extraordinarily brilliant.

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