Atlanta Hawks have made some bold moves during the offseason and will head into the new season feeling they can make a real statement in the Eastern Conference.
The Hawks were the surprise package in 2020-21 as they went on to reach the Eastern Conference finals, but they disappointed last season, falling in the first round of the playoffs after coming through the play-in tournament.
Trae Young and co will be expecting much better in the coming campaign as they bid to claim the championship for the first time moving to Atlanta way back in 1968, with the Hawks +5000 to be crowned NBA champions.
|What||NBA Season 2022/23|
|Where||USA and Canada|
|When||October 18th 2022 - June 2023|
|How to watch||ABC, ESPN, TNT, NBA TV|
|Odds||BOS Celtics +525, GS Warriors +600, LA Clippers +700, MIL Bucks +750, BKN Nets +800|
Atlanta appear to have recruited well during the offseason and the arrival of guard Dejounte Murray from San Antonio Spurs looks an excellent bit of business.
Murray is gearing up for his sixth season in the NBA and is coming off the back of his best year, having averaged career-highs in almost all significant statistics last season with 21.1 points-per-game, 9.2 assists and 8.3 rebounds.
The Hawks have also added forward Maurice Harkless and guard/forward Justin Holiday from Sacramento Kings, with both capable of challenging for starting roles in Atlanta.
The team's only significant departure is Kevin Huerter, who moved to Sacramento in the deal that saw Harkless and Holiday join the Hawks.
Atlanta also landed Duke product AJ Griffin with the 16th overall pick in the NBA Draft and have signed fellow rookie Tyrese Martin from Golden State Warriors, with Ryan Rollins joining the Warriors.
It remains to be seen as to whether either will play much in the season ahead, but Griffin in particular looks a good prospect and both could spend time with Atlanta's G-League affiliate, the College Park Skyhawks, in 2022-23.
The Hawks already had a strong team before their impressive recruitment and in guard Trae Young they have one of the league's real stars. The point guard is preparing for his fifth season in the league and is already a two-time All-Star.
Last season, Young averaged 28.4 points-per-game and a career-high 9.7 assists.
The 23-year-old starred in 2021 as he helped guide Atlanta to the conference finals, but struggled in the postseason last term, averaging 15.4 points on just over 30% shooting from the field with 6.0 assists as the Hawks were eliminated in the first round by Miami Heat in five games.
Young will be desperate to bounce back this season and the Hawks have assembled a strong team around their marquee player.
Murray is likely to join Young in the Hawks backcourt, with Bogdan Bogdanovic, Holiday and Aaron Holiday providing further support. Clint Capela is the starting center, while John Collins and either Harkless or De'Andre Hunter will be their starting backcourt.
When Atlanta have their best five available they should be a match for any team in the NBA and they have a strong supporting cast as well.
Atlanta coach Nate McMillan initially joined the team as an assistant, but stepped up to replace Lloyd Pierce in March 2021 and led the team to the Eastern Conference finals that year, ending a run of four years in which the team had missed out on the postseason.
That was just the second time in 10 attempts in which McMillan had managed to progress beyond the first round as a coach, having previously spent time in charge of Seattle SuperSonics, Portland Trail Blazers and Indiana Pacers.
After last season's first round exit, McMillan and the Hawks will go into the new campaign feeling they have a point to prove.
The 58-year-old is a popular figure in Atlanta and is unlikely to find himself under too much pressure, even if the team do get off to a sluggish start - although the top six in the East is a clear target for this ambitious team.
Atlanta start the season with a home game against Houston Rockets and they have been handed a run of games in the opening stages they will be expecting to win.
After facing Houston, the Hawks have two more home games against division rivals Orlando Magic and Charlotte Hornets before back-to-back games at Detroit Pistons.
After a strong summer of recruitment and with Young, Collins and Capela on their roster, Atlanta should be regarded as serious contenders in the East despite last season's struggles.
Qualifying for the playoffs should be the minimum target and the expectation will be that they can do so by claiming a top-six seed, rather than needing to come through the play-in tournament.
Atlanta aren't among the favourites for the championship, but they have the potential to go all the way if they are lucky with injuries and their key men play to their potential.