New York at Atlanta
Time: 6:30 PM CT (NBA LP)
Opening Spread: ATL -6
Opening Total: 224
The New York Knicks most recently made waves by trading franchise forward Kristaps Porzingis before he made his way back from injury. The Knicks acquired some nice pieces in the swap, not least of all was point guard Dennis Smith Jr, who now (arguably) becomes the face of this Knicks’ franchise. Most importantly, though, the Knicks cleared enough cap room to go after two max free agents this summer, which will undoubtedly be the real heist of the trade after those max spots become two superstars, assuming they both do.
The Knicks need it. The team is just 10-47 this season and it has lost 18-straight games (!). The Knicks were even obliterated by another non-playoff team in the Memphis Grizzlies. Smith had just eight points on 3 of 9 shooting, the Knicks shot a disgusting 37.8 percent from the field in the game. The other key cornerstone of the franchise, Kevin Knox, also struggled in hitting just 5 of 18 from the field en route to 17 points.
Both Knox and Smith have shown plenty of promise in their young careers, but the Knicks will not put shape and form to this team until it dips its toes into free agency this summer. The Knicks lack depth, lack top-end talent, but it does have both Knox and Smith who presumably could fit in well with a couple of superstars. No matter what the case, Porzingis had repeatedly expressed frustration with the franchise, which ultimately led the Knicks to deal the superstar to Dallas where he will now team up with superstar rookie Luka Doncic.
The Atlanta Hawks have lost three of its last four and have fallen to 19-38 on the season. It still trails the Orlando Magic to get out of the Southeast Division cellar, but the future is bright in “Hotlanta.”
Trae Young has blossomed well in his rookie season, and John Collins is quietly having an outstanding second year in the league. That duo, along with Taurean Prince, represents the key pieces of the Hawks’ young core, which truthfully is one of the better in the league once the rest of the roster fills out. The Hawks will hope to land Zion Williamson in the 2019 NBA draft, which would really put the icing on its frontcourt in combining Williamson with Collins, who is a phenomenal athlete in his own right. The Hawks could become a very exciting team based on the transitional talents of Young and Collins, but the roster is definitely still in progress.
After Collins, Young, and Prince, the Hawks lineup is a lot dicier and filled with a number of players deficient in scoring skills. Dewayne Dedmon and Alex Len form something of a two-headed monster at center, but neither has outstanding upside at this point in their respective careers.
Rookie 2-guard Kevin Huerter has looked strong at times, but his playing time is still somewhat usurped by the ancient Vince Carter, who sees 15 minutes a night in this, his farewell tour through the NBA. The Hawks have put an exciting product on the court finally and are getting some wins, but it still will be a lottery team. That more or less sums up the situation in Atlanta: exciting but struggling. For now.
ATS TRENDS (c/o Covers):