Atlanta Hawks 2016-2017 NBA Season Preview
The upcoming 2016-2017 NBA season marks a new beginning for the Atlanta Hawks after being consistent when it comes to the core members of their roster and their front office in the past decade.
Because of head coach Mike Budenholzer’s efforts, the Hawks have been playing really well as one of the top four teams in the Eastern Conference for the last two years. With the team’s new acquisitions, will they still have the ability to stay at the top four?
Via free agency and trades, the team parted ways with two of their starters, Al Horford (Boston Celtics) and Jeff Teague (Indiana Pacers). 40% of Hawk’s starting line-up is being replaced. Meanwhile, in replacement to Horford, the team acquired Houston Rockets star Dwight Howard.
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Teague’s departure will likely give Dennis Schroder the important role as the main playmaker for the team. This could also suggest Schroder stepping up as the new face of the franchise. He had a strong rookie season where he played as a back-up point guard. He averaged 11 points and 4.4 assists.
Veteran players such as Kyle Korver, Kent Bazemore and Paul Milsap are also expected to bring good numbers for the team. Newly acquired veteran point guard, Jarret Jack, is expected to play as a back-up for Schroder.
As far as the development of the team is concerned, Schroder just became their franchise player and if he continues to contribute big numbers, his teammates will surely follow his lead.
Staying: Kent Bazemore, Tim Hardaway Jr, Kris Humphries, Kyle Korver, Paul Millsap, Mike Muscala, Dennis Schroeder, Mike Scott, Thabo Sefolosha, Tiago Splitter and Walter Tavares.
Additions: DeAndre Bembry, Matt Costello, Malcolm Delaney, Dwight Howard, Jarrett Jack and Taurean Prince.
Losses: Al Horford, Kirk Hinrich, Lamar Patterson and Jeff Teague.
Projected Rotation 2016-2017:
PG: Dennis Schroder, Jarrett Jack, Malcolm Delaney
SG: Kyle Korver, Tim Hardaway Jr, DeAndre Bembry
SF: Kent Bazemore, Thabo Sefalosha, Taurean Prince
PF: Paul Millsap, Mike Scott, Kris Humphries
C: Dwight Howard, Tiago Splitter, Walter Tavares
Strengths: Although Hawks offense is unquestionable as of the moment, the team’s defense is still their main strength. According to Basketball Insiders, the team’s 48 wins last season were rooted from their ability to negate opposing offenses.
But with Howard replacing Horford, the former Rocket’s defensive capability is in question because of his age. His elite rebounding, however, has the advantage over Horford’s.
Millsap and Howard could be a force to reckon with for the Hawks when it comes to big man duos. Millsap is still considered to be an underrated player in the league but the power forward has been big not only on the offensive end but also through defense.
Meanwhile, Schroder’s advantage over Teague is his defensive prowess. The youngster does not only contribute well offensively but also defensively.
Weaknesses: Kyle Korver’s consistency is a big issue for the team since he had produced significant numbers in the past seasons, specifically the 2014-2015 season when the team ranked second to Golden State Warriors in three-point percentage (38 percent). The 36-year old veteran’s percentage fell from 49 percent in 2015 to 40 last season. In question here is the team’s perimeter depth.
Also, trading Teague could be a huge factor as this could hurt the team in the long run. Or Schroder could indeed become the franchise’s long-term starting point guard.
Prediction: 1st in the Southeast Division, 5th in the Eastern Conference.
Photo courtesy: Keith Allison/Flickr