Center Skal Labissiere is one of the latest crop of Haitian NBA stars, having been nurtured at the College Canado-Haitien in Port-au-Prince. Labissiere, who miraculously survived the 2010 earthquake with his brother and mother, moved to Memphis, Tennessee shortly after the tragedy to begin a new life. After eventually making the cut in the 2016 NBA draft with the Sacramento Kings, Labissiere has been with the Trail Blazers and more recently the Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks finished with the fourth-worst record in the 2019/20 NBA season, but there is growing hope for a better year in 2020/21.
Although the Hawks are still unlikely to be front and center of the conversation among handicappers and fans discussing the latest NBA picks, there is a growing positivity among the Hawks community. Despite such a poor record last season, Atlanta’s attendances were on the rise. With just over 16,000 fans per game on average, this equates to their highest average since Atlanta last reached the NBA Playoffs back in 2017.
One of the main reasons why the Hawks have become more “box office” in the eyes of their fans is the development of starlet Trae Young. Young was snapped up just a year or so into their latest rebuild as a part of a trade with the Dallas Mavericks for Atlanta’s Luka Doncic. Along with Young, the Hawks will have their fingers crossed that their other young prospects continue their development. Cam Reddish and De’Andre Hunter are at the top of that list, along with John Collins. Skal Labissiere will also be hoping to get himself fit and pushing for action, with the Hawks yet to see the best of him having sustained a knee injury towards the latter stages of last year.
The acquisition of Clint Capela could be a savvy one too for Atlanta. Capela is highly regarded as a rim protector and in recent seasons has ensured the Houston Rockets’ defense has performed in line with the league average. The Hawks had the third-worst defense rating in the league last year, so Capela’s arrival may be able to improve that average somewhat to bolster their playoff hopes.
Finally, it’s almost unheard of for an NBA franchise with two All-Star players to miss the Playoffs altogether. With John Collins sure to be an All-Star next year, as well as Trae Young, it would be almost criminal not to see their talents flourish on the biggest stage. Chicago’s young team of 2016 were the last to have two All-Stars in their roster and miss out on the Playoffs.