A CLASH OF FUTURE STARS
This match-up is an embarrassment of riches – and by “riches,” we mean future stars of the NBA. There’s vast talent on each team, so we may see one of the most interesting pre-season games this season. The phrase “League Pass team,” – or simply “the team you should watch out for” – gets tossed around often these days, and these two have a strong case of owning such a label.
THE HAWKS A.K.A THE BABY WARRIORS
For the Hawks, they are adding two-way wingman DeAndre Hunter and athletic freak Cam Reddish to the fold, whom they picked up in this year’s draft as the fourth and 10th overall picks, respectively.
Hunter will be boasting elite defense and reliable outside shooting, which he had showcased during college and capped off by leading the University of Virginia to a National Championship this past April.
Reddish was also a touted player in the NCAA ranks while at Duke University, but was mostly on the shadows of his more-heralded teammates, Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett. Now that he’s on a different system, however, one that probably fits his style better, we may see a better version of his play.
The two will be joining a core led by Trae Young and John Collins, quite possibly the most sought-after young scoring duo in the league, thanks to Young’s Stephen Curry-esque range, scoring, and pace, and Collins’ blue-collar play that had him close to averaging 20-10 last season (19.5 PPG, 9.8 RPG).
Second-year swingman Kevin Huerter doesn’t have that type of production yet, but his insane range, build, and no-nonsense demeanor resembles Klay Thompson, which rounds out the Hawks being “The Baby Warriors.”
THE NEW-LOOK PELICANS
The Pelicans will be parading a smorgasbord of potential superstars. Along with acquiring Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, and a truckload of draft picks in that rollercoaster Anthony Davis trade, they nabbed Zion Williamson with the first overall pick of the past draft.
Williamson, as you may know by now, is a freak of nature. The 19-year-old stands 6’8, weighs 285 lbs., runs like a gazelle, and has video game-like athleticism. Through a successful high school career filled with insane dunks and a freshman year at Duke that lived up to the heavy expectations, he now has a hype that’s only comparable to what LeBron James had back in 2003.
His two main co-rookies on the team are no slouches either. He’ll be with rim protector Jaxson Hayes and smooth-moving swingman Nickeil Alexander-Walker.
Another interesting aspect in the Pelicans’ youth movement is their floor general: Jrue Holiday. The 10-year veteran is a fitting leader for such a group, as he is a two-way player who demands a lot from all of his guys. Holiday, too, would be coming in with a good amount of hype, courtesy of posting career-highs 21.2 PPG this past season.
WHO COMES OUT ON TOP?
Whether the marquee names play or not, we can expect to see a competitive game from both ends. The Hawks, regardless of the personnel, like to push the pace and fill up the scoreboard. Look for Hunter and Reddish to get good minutes and lead the attack.
The Pelicans have the same approach and they armed to be as dangerous as any team in the open floor. Ball is a superb passer with good court vision and it’s interesting to see how he’ll do with all that speed and athleticism on his side.
We should see a good back-and-forth game, with the Pelicans having the last say and earning a win.