The Atlanta Hawks entered the season with as much promise - both in the present and future - as any NBA team. After a shocking run to the Eastern Conference final last campaign, many people believed the Hawks had the goods to build on that momentum this year.

Instead, Atlanta has been the East's most disappointing team over the season's first half, and the ramifications have already been felt. Last week, the Hawks traded 2019 No. 10 pick Cam Reddish to the Knicks for an underwhelming package consisting of Kevin Knox and a protected 2022 first-rounder.

With approximately three weeks between now and the trade deadline and three months until the playoffs tipoff, Atlanta needs to figure out whether it was last spring or this winter that was the aberration.

 

Defensive slide

Though they finished a slightly below average 18th in defensive efficiency last season, the Hawks' defensive improvement was the breakthrough many believed could be the catalyst for a present and future spent contending.

The fact Atlanta constructed a competent defense with franchise cornerstone Trae Young on the court was a massive development. Through his first two seasons as a pro, Young might've been the worst defensive player in the Association.

Center Clint Capela's play marked the biggest reason for the team's defensive improvement last year. His combination of rim protection, mobility, and defensive rebounding steadied the ship while providing a layer of protection for the Hawks' defensive liabilities.