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The Revamped Atlanta Hawks
- Updated: October 10, 2016
There was plenty of mixing and matching during the NBA offseason, and the Atlanta Hawks were among the teams reshaping themselves for the upcoming 2017 campaign.
The Hawks enter this season with an entirely new look. The fabric of the team undoubtedly shifts with the departure of All-Star center Al Horford to the Boston Celtics. Atlanta filled the void with the acquisition of 8-time All-Star center and Atlanta native Dwight Howard. To counteract the loss of Horford’s ability to spread the floor on the offensive end of the court, the Hawks will look to Howard to be its anchor on defense.
Atlanta Hawks center Dwight Howard-Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
Howard has had a rough career since forcing a trade from the Orlando Magic in 2012. After battling injuries with the Los Angeles Lakers and experiencing ultimate shortcomings with the Houston Rockets, Howard (30) will look to return to the upper echelon of NBA centers. As added motivation, Howard makes a return home, where he was widely recognized as the best American high school basketball player after starring for South Atlanta Christian Academy, before being drafted out of high school by Orlando in 2004. To backup Howard the Hawks have third-year center Mike Muscala and Tiago Splitter who was the starting center on the San Antonio Spurs 2014 championship squad.
Taurean Prince (12) defends- Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports
To further its transition into a defensive oriented team, Atlanta drafted two long and versatile swingmen in 6’6 DeAndre’ Bembry out of St. Joseph and 6’8 Taurean Prince out of Baylor. Each players look to have an impact on both sides of the ball— Bembry from a scoring and floor-spacing aspect and Prince with his toughness on defense and his ability to put the ball in the basket in a variety of ways. With these talented rookies, in addition to the continued development of two-way starting shooting guard Kent Bazemore, streaky shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr., and the always deadly 3-point shooting small-forward Kyle Korver, Atlanta will look to stifle opposing teams guard production and attack in transition and from the perimeter.
Dennis Schroder (17) attacks the basket-Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports
After trading point guard Jeff Teague, who they took with the 19th overall pick in the 2009 NBA draft, the Hawks will now turn the reigns over to third-year guard Dennis Schroder who assumes starting point guard duties after an exceptional sophomore campaign as the Hawks backup point guard and sixth man. Furthermore, the Hawks also signed veteran point guard, and former Georgia Tech standout, Jarrett Jack to mentor and take pressure off Schroder and to provide occasional scoring bursts.
Atlanta will still have the services of 3-time All-Star forward Paul Millsap who will look to increase his offensive production and efficiency from a season ago by not having to shoulder the brunt of the defensive workload with the addition of Howard’s rim protecting capabilities. Atlanta will also have the luxury of deploying stretch-forward Mike Scott and bruiser Kris Humphries for utility purposes—newly acquired stretch-forward Ryan Kelly will also provide shooting and frontcourt depth.
Mike Budenholzer’s enters his fourth season as Hawks head coach and president of basketball operations, and with three playoff appearances and a conference final loss in 2015 on his resume’, Budenholzer will look to further mold his team into the Spurs of the Eastern Conference—a well coached, defensive-minded and offensively efficient ball club. He will ultimately be tasked with managing his first “superstar” talent in Howard and getting him to buy in to his philosophy, which will go a long way in dictating the teams’ overall success.