Re­build­ing Hawks one star away

USA TODAY US Edition - - SPORTS - Jeff Zill­gitt

The Hawks de­serve Zion Wil­liamson, namely be­cause they have gone about their re­build with cred­i­bil­ity.

They have a com­mit­ment to their young play­ers on and off the court, giv­ing them great player de­vel­op­ment in­struc­tion and veter­ans (we see you Vince Carter) to guide them through the early stretch of their NBA ca­reers.

Wil­liamson would be a per­fect fit amid a re­build that is headed in the right di­rec­tion with a star-in­the-mak­ing in rookie point guard Trae Young and se­cond-year for­ward John Collins, who av­er­ages 20 points and 10 re­bounds.

Add Wil­liamson’s unique and elite skill set to the mix and the Hawks would ac­cel­er­ate their rise in the Eastern Con­fer­ence with the po­ten­tial to be­come con­fer­ence con­tenders.

Let’s start in the front of­fice with gen­eral man­ager Travis Sch­lenk and his staff. Sch­lenk, in­stru­men­tal as an as­sis­tant GM in Golden State’s emer­gence, has proved him­self adept at draft­ing and find­ing play­ers who can con­trib­ute.

And don’t for­get, the Hawks have cap space, so if they get the No. 1 pick and an­other lot­tery pick, they have a chance to lure play­ers who would want to play with Young, Collins and Wil­liamson.

Also, Sch­lenk de­serves credit for hir­ing coach Lloyd Pierce, who made his name as a player de­vel­op­ment coach. And give Pierce props for hir­ing assistants and player de­vel­op­ment coaches ded­i­cated to mak­ing play­ers bet­ter.

Wil­liamson would be the re­cip­i­ent of that player de­vel­op­ment in­struc­tion and he would make in­cred­i­ble strides in his game quickly. Just look at Young now com­pared to Young at the start of the sea­son. The work is ob­vi­ous.

If you watch the Hawks, you can see the re­sults. For­get the record. Look at in­di­vid­ual de­vel­op­ment.

With­out ques­tion, the Hawks with Wil­liamson would be one of the most fun and ex­cit­ing teams to watch.

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