2017-2018 NBA Season Preview: Atlanta Hawks

Last season was a very average year for the Atlanta Hawks. They placed second in the Southeast Division and fifth in the Eastern Conference. They faced the division rival Washington Wizards in the first round of the playoffs and lost in six games. This was the second year of regression since the Eastern Conference Finals team in 2015. Once they lost their final game to the Wizards, the rebuild began.

Key offseason additions

PF John Collins

PF Luke Babbitt

C Dewayne Dedmon

SG Marco Belinelli

C Miles Plumlee

Key offseason subtractions

Curtis Compton /ccompton@ajc.com

PF Paul Millsap

C Dwight Howard

SG Tim Hardaway Jr. 

SF Thabo Sefolosha

Projected started five

PG: Dennis Schroder

SG: Kent Bazemore

SF: Taurean Prince

PF: Ersan Ilyasova

C: Dewayne Dedmon 

Strengths

Versatility

There aren’t many obvious strengths with this Hawks team, but they’re extremely versatile. Looking at their starting lineup, Dennis Schroder, Kent Bazemore and Taurean Prince can all defend multiple positions. Off the bench, sophomore DeAndre Bembry and rookie John Collins can do the same. Those five are the young core leading the Hawks into a new era. With Budenholzer coaching to maximize versatility, the Hawks have a direction to move in their rebuild. 

Coaching

Of all the rebuilding NBA teams, the Hawks have the best coach. Mike Budenholzer is a member of the Gregg Popovich coaching tree and won the 2015 NBA Coach of the Year. He had the Hawks looking like the Spurs, but hasn’t been back at that level due to major roster changes. This season the Hawks will be very reliant on Budenholzer to win games. Amid disaster, his job is safe. 

Weakness

Point guard depth

The Hawks will be led this season by Dennis Schroder, but won’t have much to work with when he goes to the bench. Malcolm Delaney is the only other point guard on the roster and no other guards on the roster can play the point. Last season Delaney averaged 5.4 points and 2.6 assists playing 17.1 minutes per game. He’s going to play an increased role next season, something he’s never done in his NBA career. 

Breakout player

SF Taurean Prince

(Photos by Mark Sobhani/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Hawks drafted Taurean Prince out of Baylor with the 12th pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. The Hawks received the pick from Utah Jazz in the trade sending Jeff Teague to Indiana and George Hill to Utah. Of the pieces sent in the trade, Prince is the only one that remains on his current team. What the Hawks liked about Prince is his athleticism, defense and versatility. Prince has the size and strength to cover multiple positions and is very active on the defensive end. His strengths are perfect for Mike Budenholzer’s system. He should see major improvement now that he’s in the starting lineup. 

Season outlook

After losing in free agency, this season doesn’t look bright for the Atlanta Hawks. Trading Paul Millsap and Dwight Howard proved the organization is ready for a rebuild. Kent Bazemore and Dennis Schroder are the only players that remain from the 2014-2015 team that earned the best record in the Eastern Conference. Alongside Schroder and Bazemore, the Hawks will monitor sophomore Taurean Prince and rookie John Collins as future building blocks. Expect those four to see playing time together throughout the season, but don’t expect them to win many games yet. 

Projected record

30-52

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