Perimeter play has never been more important in the NBA, as the Warriors have helped usher in a new era where making threes is paramount and preventing opponents from making them can often determine the outcome of games.
Every team wants an elite backcourt. The Wizards have one. The Atlanta Hawks hope they have found theirs.
In this past June's NBA Draft, the Hawks selected point guard Trae Young with the fifth overall pick, then shooting guard Kevin Huerter with the 19th pick. With former Warriors executive Travis Schlenk at the helm, this was no coincidence. Though the comparisons are lofty, Young has been likened to Stephen Curry and Huerter to Klay Thompson.
The Wizards will get their first look at the upstart Hawks duo on Wednesday night, as they go into Atlanta for a 7:30 p.m. tipoff on NBC Sports Washington.
Fresh off two straight wins, the Wizards aim to keep it rolling as they continue an Eastern Conference road swing. They enter the matchup as favorites with the Hawks stumbling at 5-19 on the year.
Though Atlanta appears headed to the lottery once again, Young has shown promise in particular. He is third among rookies in points per game (15.8) and first in assists (7.4). However, he has struggled to be efficient, shooting 37.9 from the field and 23.9 from three.
Huerter holds a solid role in the rotation, having averaged 20.7 minutes in 23 games this season, seven of them starts. But he is posting just 6.0 points per game while shooting 40.8 percent.
The Wizards' star guards John Wall and Bradley Beal, meanwhile, are having another strong year statistically. Wall is averaging 21.3 points, 8.4 rebounds, 1.7 steals and a block per game. Beal has been the Wizards' best overall player with a stat line of 21.9 points, 4.3 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.1 blocks.
With Young and Huerter on the perimeter, the Hawks have a increased emphasis on shooting threes. They are fourth in the NBA in attempts (34.3/g.) and are taking nearly 14 percent more than they did a year ago. Their 11.1 made threes per game rank 12th.
But their percentage remains low. At 3a 1.4 clip, they are dead-last among NBA teams.
Beyond Young and Huerter, the Hawks feature some holdovers that Washington is familiar with. Rim-running big man John Collins leads them in scoring at 15.9 points per game. Swingman Tauren Waller-Prince isn't far behind with 15.0 points per contest.
Wall and Beal have had a detailed history with the Hawks, having seen them in two playoff series that spanned to very different eras for Atlanta. Now the Hawks have started a new chapter with an emphasis on guard play, something the Wizards know a thing or two about.
MORE WIZARDS NEWS:
Digging Deeper: Obvious hurdles when looking at rumored Wall-Knicks trade
Oubre Cookin' at MSG: Is Kelly coming off his best game ever?
Consider These: 5 observations from Wiz-Knicks at MSG