How The Hawks Beat Expectations At Home
- The Atlanta Hawks had an incredibly taxing season on their fans. The Hawks finished their regular season with a 20-47 record, the fourth worst record in the NBA, and an ATS record of 29-36-2. The Hawks were not invited to finish their regular season in Orlando. However, betting on the Hawks as home underdogs has been profitable for bettors. The Hawks were 15-10 ATS as home underdogs this season.
- The Hawks faced large spreads at home as underdogs as their losses started to pile up. However, Atlanta has never been as bad as their record suggests. The Hawks’ second best player, third-year power forward John Collins, was suspended for much of the season for violating the league’s drug policy towards growth hormones. Atlanta’s win-loss record was a dreadful 5-21 in the 26 games that Collins did not play. The Hawks’ win-loss record was a more respectable 15-26 in the 41 games that Collins did play.
- It should be no surprise that a team with as young a nucleus as the Hawks performs better at home than it does on the road. The five Hawks who led the team in minutes per game, Trae Young, John Collins, De’andre Hunter, Kevin Huerter, and Cam Reddish are all under 23 years of age and none of them have played more than three seasons in the NBA. Young players are naturally going to play better where they are more comfortable.
- Atlanta’s ability to compete has always depended on the performance of point guard Trae Young. The first-time all-star was a much better player at home than he was away from Atlanta. At home, Young averaged 31.4 points per game, 9.9 assists, and shot 37.9% from the three-point line. Away from Atlanta, Young’s averages fell to 27.6 points per game, 8.7 assists per game, and just 34.1% shooting from the three-point line.
Misleading Win-Loss Record
Oddsmakers lost faith in the Hawks as their losses began to accumulate. Atlanta has been an ATS underdog in 55 of their 67 games. Their overall win-loss record is 20-47 while their overall ATS record is 29-36-2. However, the Hawks have been one of the best NBA picks against the spread for bettors as home underdogs. The Hawks are 15-10 ATS as a home underdog despite winning only 14 of their 34 home games. The Hawks have faced large spreads even at home because their win-loss record is misleading. Atlanta was a much different team this season with John Collins than they were without him.
The wheels came off the Hawks’ season when the NBA suspended Collins for 25 games after he tested positive for growth hormone. Collins is the second-best player on the Hawks and is one of their future building blocks. This season, the power forward averaged a career-high 21.6 points per game, a career-high 10.1 rebounds per game, and even shot a career-high 40.1% from the three-point line. Collins had the second best value over replacement player rating on the team and the highest win shares per 48 minutes of any player on the Hawks. Atlanta’s win-loss record with Collins was 15-26 while their win-loss record without Collins was 5-21.
A Young Nucleus
It’s no secret that young teams play better at home where they are more familiar with their surroundings and are not subject to the conditions of a hostile crowd. Trae Young, Collins, De’andre Hunter, Kevin Huerter, and Cam Reddish led the Hawks in minutes per game this season. None of these five players have celebrated their 23rd birthday yet. Collins was in his third-year in the league, Young and Huerter were only in their second-year, and Hunter and Reddish were rookies. The youth of the Hawks’ core is reflected in the disparity between their performances at home and their performances on the road. The Hawks scored 114.6 points per game at home but just 108.8 points per game on the road. The Hawks surrendered 117.4 points per game at home compared to 122.2 points per game on the road. With a young nucleus Hawks fans should have something to look forward to in the future and may even be the consensus pick as the NBA team with the most potential moving forward.
Like most teams, the Hawks will only go as far as their best player takes them. Their point guard Trae Young is the Hawks’ best player. Young averaged 29.6 points per game, the fourth-best in the league, and 9.3 assists per game, the second-best in the league. The second-year player made the all-star team this season and has largely met expectations after the Hawks acquired him in the 2018 NBA draft through a trade with the Dallas Mavericks involving Luka Doncic. The Hawks made their backers money as home underdogs because Young played at a much different level at home than he did on the road. In Atlanta, Young averaged 31.4 points per game, 9.9 assists, and shot 37.9% from the three-point line. Away from Atlanta, Young’s numbers dipped to 27.6 points per game, 8.7 assists per game, and just 34.1% shooting from the three-point line.
Bettors will not have another opportunity this season to wager on the Hawks as home underdogs. Atlanta’s season is over as they were not invited to Orlando. However, bettors will likely still have plenty of opportunities to wager on the Hawks as home underdogs next season as oddsmakers will probably still treat Atlanta as a team not ready for primetime until they can string together something resembling a .500 season.
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