Preview: Atlanta Hawks

2017-18 Atlanta Hawks


Projected Record: 25-57 (12th in East)

Over/Under: 25.5

2016: 43-39 (5th in East)


Key Additions:

  • F John Collins
  • G Tyler Dorsey
  • C Dewayne Dedmon
  • C Miles Plumlee
  • G Marco Bellinelli
  • G Quinn Cook

Key Subtractions:

  • F Paul Millsap
  • C Dwight Howard
  • G Tim Hardaway Jr.
  • G/F Thabo Sefolosha
  • G Jose Calderon
  • F Mike Dunleavy Jr.

Summary

Strengths:

  • Intriguing youth

Weaknesses:

  • Lack of starter-quality players
  • No star power
  • In full rebuild

It’s officially the end of an era for the Hawks, who, with the trade of Dwight Howard and the loss of Paul Millsap in free agency, officially gave up the ghost and started their rebuild. The 2017-18 Hawks are going to have a real shot at one of those top three, now-equally-valuable draft positions, along with a lotto-protected Timberwolves pick and a top-three-protected Rockets pick that both seem likely to convey.

This is going to be a season of exploration for Atlanta, who needs to figure out who among their young players could be a long term building block. First rounder John Collins is a player I was a huge fan of at Wake Forest, and his exciting Summer League was an encouraging sign. Taurean Prince and DeAndre’ Bembry are an interesting tandem of wing players; Prince had a solid rookie campaign, while Bembry played very little in the NBA, shuttling back and forth with the D-League. Second rounder Tyler Dorsey might be able to show some things, as well.

That’s about all the Hawks have as far as young pieces, though. Dennis Schroeder is still only 24, but I’ve not seen a whole lot to be encouraged by from him, and he was recently arrested on charges of misdemeanor battery. He looked spectacular in their playoff loss to Atlanta, but I think Schroeder’s ceiling is an offense-first bench guard, and he’s horribly miscast in his current lead guard role (not that the Hawks have much choice in the matter at this point). I like Dewayne Dedmon quite a bit, but he’s an odd pickup for Atlanta; he seems like he should be a contributing rotation big for a playoff team, not a starting center toiling away for a team unlikely to reach 30 wins.


Most Valuable Player: Dennis Schroeder

As I mentioned above, Schroeder is currently the best player on this roster, and that’s not exactly a good thing. I think he could be a decent player, but for a guy who already likes to shoot a lot, getting free reign in an offense like this could reinforce a lot of bad habits. I’d like to see Schroeder come out and try to get the first- and second-year guys involved, but I’m not sure that’s the kind of player he really is.

X Factor: John Collins

Collins is awesome; a bouncy power forward with some length, defensive potential, and an efficient offensive game. Coming into the draft, I saw him as a Brandan Wright type with a higher ceiling. Summer League is Summer League, of course, but he looked stellar, and he’s the player I’m most interested in keeping up with on this roster at the moment.


Conclusion

The irony is that in the year the NBA tried to do something to mitigate tanking, there are a large number of teams – particularly in the East – doing exactly that. The Hawks come with the same disclaimer as many of these teams: this roster is awful, but it’s not built to win anyways. I like the idea of players like Collins, Prince, and Bembry; more than anything else, this season will be about seeing them grow.

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