Nine months ago, The Ringer named Atlanta's young core 4th best in the NBA.
Six months ago, The Athletic named Atlanta's young core 2nd best in the NBA.
Today, Bleacher Report names the Hawks as #1.
Ranking the NBA's Top 10 Young Cores Ahead of 2021-22 Season
1. Atlanta Hawks
The Core: Trae Young, John Collins, De'Andre Hunter, Kevin Huerter, Cam Reddish, Onyeka Okongwu, Jalen Johnson
Are we putting too much stock in Atlanta's run to the Eastern Conference Finals? Some might say that. But it's hard not to get excited about what's in front of this core after such a magical season.
If Young had any doubters before the campaign tipped, they didn't survive the season. He finished 14th in scoring (25.3) and second in assists (9.4), then found nearly an extra four points per outing in the playoffs (28.8). For a third-year player in his postseason debut, it was the kind of performance that made superstardom feel inevitable.
Beyond Young, the Hawks have a near-All-Star in Collins, a 23-year-old averaging 19.3 points and 9.0 rebounds since the start of 2018-19. Hunter was busy turning heads before right knee injuries derailed his season, but he still hinted at a leap from a three-and-D wing to a three-level scorer who defends multiple spots. Huerter is a three-point sniper who also functions as a secondary playmaker and capable team defender.
That quartet alone might get the Hawks this spot, but their chance for core expansion cements it.
Reddish had his sophomore season thrown off course by injuries but remains an interesting source of defensive versatility and support scoring. Okongwu can defend from the paint to the perimeter and gets interesting in a hurry if he finds a three-ball. Johnson stampeded through Summer League and already proved he fell too far as the 20th pick.
Atlanta can thank this young core for delivering both its impressive present and blindingly bright future.