MANILA, Philippines – Atlanta Hawks legend and team vice president Dominique Wilkins hopes Trae Young and his team will continue to work on the same lines ahead of the 2023-2024 NBA season.
Dubbed the “Human Highlight Film,” the NBA legend praised Young for embracing the leadership role for the youthful Hawks at age 25. But as a former Hawks star, he emphasized the importance of working together.
“Trae is a young superstar in this league. He is the leader of our team. Even if you have leadership, there will be ups and downs. So everyone has to sign up on the same page,” said Wilkins, who is in town for the NBA Cares project.
Wilkins believes the Hawks are already showing excellent teamwork despite back-to-back first-round exits in the past two NBA seasons and have failed to maintain their momentum following their Eastern Conference Finals breakthrough in the 2021 playoffs.
“I think they really came together this year and now we’re just expanding on that,” Wilkins said.
The Hawks traded starting forward John Collins to the Utah Jazz for Rudy Gay and a future second-round pick last July, but shipped Gay for Patty Mills. They also signed Wesley Matthews and extended Dejounte Murray’s contract to a four-year, $120 million deal.
Wilkins is pleased with the composition of their roster, which includes Bogdan Bogdanovic, Clint Capela and Saddiq Bey. But he believes 21-year-old power forward Jalen Johnson is a player to keep an eye on.
“We got some new people. We have a lot of young guys coming off the bench. Honestly, one of those guys might be a starter this year. I think Jalen Johnson, with us, will be a guy that everyone should watch and he’ll be a pretty good player,” he said.
Atlanta finished eighth in the East during the regular season with a 41-41 record. The Hawks then defeated eventual finalists Miami Heat in the play-in to secure the seventh seed, but lost 4–2 to the Boston Celtics in the first round.
The Hawks open their preseason campaign on October 11 against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Atlanta’s 2023-2024 season begins Oct. 26 against the Charlotte Hornets on the road at Spectrum Center.