NBA season preview: Atlanta Hawks

NBA season preview: Atlanta Hawks


NBA season preview: Atlanta Hawks

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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.

ADDED: DeAndre Bembry (Saint Joseph’s), Matt Costello (Michigan State), Malcolm Delaney (Lokomotiv Kuban), Dwight Howard (Houston), Jarrett Jack (Brooklyn) and Taurean Prince (Baylor).

GONE: Al Horford (Boston), Kirk Hinrich, Lamar Patterson (Sacramento) and Jeff Teague (Indiana).

STRENGTHS: Paul MillsapDwight Howard should be one of the strongest big man duos in the NBA this season … Millsap is an underrated two-way player … He has quietly become one of the top defenders at the power forward position and continues to put up solid scoring and rebounding numbers … Howard is a reclamation project for the Hawks … If he doesn’t get his mojo back with his hometown team, it won’t happen anywhere … While much-criticized, Howard remains one of the best centers in the game … Even moreso if you keep him involved, which didn’t always happen in Houston … Pretty explosive perimeter with Dennis Schroeder and Kent Bazemore … Schroeder has shown glimpses of greatness and should be super motivated now that he’s a starter … Bazemore’s athleticism and toughness are nice assets to have … Solid froncourt depth with Tiago Splitter and Kris Humphries … Even better if the promising Walter Tavares takes a step forward … Under Mike Budenholzer, the Hawks have usually played unselfish basketball … Defense should not be a problem for Atlanta … Opponents shot a mere 43.2 percent against them last season.

WEAKNESSES: There’s not a go-to scorer here … It’s a pretty noticeable issue, especially in the playoffs … Putting the ball in the basket is just not this club’s strongest suit … They were the 21st team in the league in Offensive Rating in 2015-16, which doesn’t really scream “contenders” … A lot of key players on the wrong side of 30 … Three-point sniper Kyle Korver really declined last year … At age 35, perhaps we should not be expecting a bounce back … Staying healthy has been a challenge for Howard … His energy level and mobility are not what they once were … Trading Jeff Teague and giving the keys of the team to Schroeder is probably the right decision long-term, but it could hurt them this season … Not a lot of depth on the perimeter … They look stuck in the good-but-not-great zone.

PREDICTION: 1st in the Southeast Division, 5th in the Eastern Conference.



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