LOOKING at the roster Brian Goorjian has put together for this season there's a whole lot to be excited about.
With a franchise coming out of administration, there was not a single player on the Hawks books when Goorjian was appointed. It allowed him to put his roster together piece by piece and its not hard to see what traits he prized.
Look at Deng Adel, Justin Simon, Deng Deng, Sam Froling, Max Darling, [the injured] Dan Grida; he was after length, athleticism and, strikingly, youth.
It's mouth-watering to think about what this team can produce if they can get out and run, but you cannot really contend in this league without some veteran presence, especially in the front court.
Enter Cam Bairstow. There's no doubting the 30-year-old former Chicago Bull's pedigree and ability, but his time in the NBL has been plagued by injury, including a dreaded ACL tear - ironically playing for the Bullets against the Hawks in 2016.
You have to imagine there's a point to prove given his hometown franchise chose not to take up its option on the final year of his deal and, when healthy, he remains a legitimate marquee big in this league. Goorjian certainly sees him that way.
"We have two marquee players and they're the ones you build it around," Goorjian said.
"We've gone with lot of youth in our group and two marquees and that's [Deng] Adel and Bairstow. With Adel we wanted that athleticism and then we wanted an interior go-to guy and he is that."
It's why plenty of good judges feel the Hawks fortunes will truly swing on Bairstow staying healthy. It probably extends to the entire Hawks front-court over which many have a question mark.
AJ Ogilvy had has his issues with injury in recent seasons while Froling sat out a fair chunk of his rookie season with an ankle injury.
Froling's young without a checkered history, so you'd think his health will come down to luck more than attrition, but Bairstow and Ogilvy have picked up their share of wear and tear at this point of their careers.
We've had no one in these preseason games that you can roll the ball into the block and play off of. He's starting to practice now and he is definitely that.
Bairstow's absence has been conspicuous in the preseason as he battles niggling knee soreness, but he's been re-integrated into the playing group over the last week. From all reports, it's seen the squad go to another level on the practice floor.
He's expected to be sweet for the first game against Cairns this week and the importance of that can't overstated according to Goorjian.
"We need that guy that you can dump the ball into," Goorjian said.
"If you watched us in the preseason, Ogilvy and Froling aren't that. Froling's young and he's a face-up guy with a little bit off the bounce. Ogilvy's a really, really good rebounder and he's an on-ball rollout guy.
"We've had no one in these preseason games that you can roll the ball into the block and play off of. [Bairstow's] starting to practice now and he is that.
"We've got guys who can run up and down and jump but we've had nobody we could put the ball into and he brings an element to the team that we don't have. In the games we've played in the preseason we've got hurt there badly, especially against the Kings, we had nothing for them down in the block.
"He is training now, he's had a little health issue with his leg and he's worked through that and he's training pretty consistently. We think he's going to be ready for that first game and that's a big addition for us."