NBA Preview 2013: Atlanta Hawks

5mdhgjh3aa92kih09pgiTime for the second NBA Preview of the day here on the Sports Script. Earlier today I covered the Dallas Mavericks, so make sure you check them out as well as the rest of the teams thus far. This one team right here has caused me some problems in ranking them. They made some very smart moves in the offseason, but the question is if they really want to win right now. Time to discuss the Atlanta Hawks.

Key Additions: Paul Millsap (Signed via Jazz) Gustavo Ayon (Signed via Bucks) Dennis Schroeder (Draft) Elton Brand (Signed via Mavericks) Mike Budenholzer (Coach)

Key Departures: Josh Smith (Pistons) Zaza Pachulia (Bucks) Devin Harris (Mavericks) DeShawn Stevenson ( Larry Drew (Fired)

Projected Starters: PG Jeff Teague, SG Louis Williams, SF Kyle Korver, PF Paul Millsap, C Al Horford

I’m very conflicted on this team. Loved the offseason, especially the signing of Paul Millsap for only 2 years and 19 million, and letting go of Smith was something that needed to happen. Throw in the drafting of a very unique guard in Dennis Schroeder was very nice. But do they really want to win? Should I be surprised when they deal Al Horford away? I’m not sure. With Danny Ferry at the helm, my guess is a full scale blow-up will happen, and Josh Smith was the tip of the iceberg. Gustavo Ayon is a very underrated signing, especially as a backup forward, and should do more things better than Pachulia who signed with the Bucks for a stupid amount of money. Elton Brand will be a good bench scorer, but his time of being a rotation guy is almost over so don’t expect that much from him.

The starters are good enough to grab that final spot in the west, and with them making the playoffs last year I do trust them more than the Raptors, Wizards or another up and coming east team. But Danny Ferry understands the peril of being in that spot. Get that 8th slot after a turnover year like this one was, and that becomes the expectation, so you get stuck in the absolute worst spot to be in, not a high draft pick, and no way you compete with the Heat and Pacers of the east. Teague got resigned for a decent contract, but he needs to play like a starting point guard to justify that deal. Lou Williams is a player made to come off the bench and score, score score but they will need him to start this year, but at least he can produce some perimeter scoring opportunities. Kyle Korver is one of the best shooters in basketball still, but lets just ignore the fact that he might be one of the worst defenders on the planet, and has a habit of wandering into the paint and getting dunked on like any good white basketball player. It’s just something that will inevitably happen. Paul Millsap might have been the signing of the offseason, as he gives amazing production on one of the league’s best contract as mentioned above. Horford is now the defacto guy in Atlanta, and I hope he sticks around there, because he’s going to put up big numbers, but I still have the sneaking feeling he will get traded and start the real rebuilding process.

The Atlanta Hawks are again, an enigma team. Enough talent to win a playoff spot, and get killed by the Heat, but have the potential to be a high lottery pick with the trade of one player. Things revolve solely on Al Horford. If he stays, playoffs will probably happen, if he’s gone, then no shot at the playoffs, and that’s why they’re in no man’s land right now.

Final Prediction: 41-41, 8th Eastern Conference

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