- Kris Dunn is expected to return to the Hawks at the end of this month.
- Dunn has not played a single game this season after undergoing arthroscopic surgery last December.
- The Hawks are 11th in the East standings but are just one game behind 8th placed Toronto.
Things ae looking bright for the Atlanta Hawks right now.
After firing head coach Lloyd Pierce earlier this week, the Hawks have won back to back games heading to the All-Star break. They have also gotten back guard Bogdan Bogdanovic after he missed 25 games with a right knee fracture avulsion. Next, Atlanta is expected to get back veteran guard Kris Dunn at the end of this month.
Dunn has yet to make his Hawks debut after going under the knife last December to address an ankle injury. Atlanta GM Travis Schlenk said that the team was fully “on board” with Dunn’s decision to undergo arthroscopic surgery even if it meant losing him for the first half of the 2020-21 NBA season.
The Hawks have struggled to start the year with injuries crippling their roster. Danilo Gallinari has sat out 12 games, and Rajon Rondo 16 while as mentioned earlier, Bogdanovic missed 25 games. The Hawks have managed to post a 16-20 record heading to the All-Star break but are optimistic that the second half will be much better, especially with Dunn returning.
Strong Defensive Presence
Kris Dunn will sign with Hawks for two-year, $10M with a player-option for the second year, per @wojespn pic.twitter.com/0C0YKNo3VG
— Bleacher Report NBA (@BR_NBA) November 21, 2020
Dunn signed a two-year deal worth $10M with the Hawks last November after playing the 2019-20 season for the Chicago Bulls. He averaged 7.3 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game for the Bulls while ranking 2nd behind Ben Simmons in the entire NBA with 2.0 steals per game.
Known primarily for his defensive skills, Dunn was the Minnesota Timberwolves’ 5th overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft after winning back to back Big East Defensive Player of the Year awards in 2015 and 2016 with the Providence Friars. Dunn was traded to the Bulls as part of the Jimmy Butler deal. Last season, Dunn barely missed out making the NBA’s All-Defensive teams, finishing 11th in the voting.
The Hawks added Dunn to provide a strong defensive presence in the backcourt alongside Trae Young. With his expected return, the Hawks hope that he can help shore up a defensive unit whose defensive rating of 112.5 points per 100 possessions ranks only 13th in the Eastern Conference and 23rd overall in the entire league.
Can Dunn Still Make a Difference?
Heading into the All Star Break, the Brooklyn Nets have become the clear favorite to win the Eastern Conference
Hawks +5000 pic.twitter.com/4VtokAV1v8
— BetOnline.ag (@betonline_ag) March 4, 2021
Heading to the All-Star break, the Brooklyn Nets have become the clear favorites to win the Eastern Conference. Surprisingly in 8th place in the latest BetOnline oddsboard are the Atlanta Hawks. Although they are a longshot +5000 in the latest list, that show that oddsmakers are confident of them reaching the Top 8.
The Hawks have 11 games after the All-Star break until the end of march. That means that if Dunn starts playing in April, he will still have 25 games to contribute and make a difference. Given that the 16-20 Hawks are just one game off 8th place Toronto who is 17-19, Dunn’s return is still a significant boost to the team.
A key stretch for Atlanta will be the 8-game road trip that begins on March 20 at Staples Center and ends at the Smoothie King Center on April 2nd. If the Hawks can at least salvage that trip and keep up with the Knicks, Hornets, Heat, and Raptors during that span, they should be able to finish strong with Dunn back at the end of this month. If they are able to that, then making the playoffs for the first time since 2017 isn’t a far-fetched idea.