Today, we start off with the Atlanta Hawks, who have made some offseason moves.
Say Goodbye To Josh Smith
The Hawks are coming off of 6 consecutive playoff appearances and a 44-38 record last season and key replacements will need to be made at the small forward position as last year’s leading scorer, Josh Smith, is now a member of the Detroit Pistons. While Smith provided a lot of high-flying energy for Atlanta, the one major weakness to his game was taking highly contested, wild shots. From his 46.5% from the field, you wouldn’t know that Smith was out of control at times, but from watching him, you would.
The Hawks will be glad to welcome veterans Paul Millsap and Elton Brand to the forward position. Millsap is the key acquisition as Brand is entering the latter stages of his career, but let’s not forget that Elton Brand was a 20 point, 10 rebound per game player in his prime with the Clippers and has been a career 50% shooter from the field; something that the Hawks have sorely missed.
Playing With Al
Millsap will move from Utah where he played with a big-time scorer and rebounder in Al Jefferson to Atlanta where he’ll be playing with another Al of similar traits, AL Horford. Millsap isn’t as flashy as Josh Smith but he’s a much more controlled player and this will benefit Atlanta. They’ll have 3 big beefy 250 pound players controlling the paint that have above average offense skill in the form of Al Horford (17.4 ppg, 10.2 rpg), Paul Millsap, and Elton Brand. This is a very unselfish trio of achievers.
Teague Re-signs With Atlanta
Point guard, Jeff Teague, has expressed his happiness with the new look Hawks and why wouldn’t he? Atlanta matched the Milwaukee Bucks offer sheet to grab Teague and signed him to a 4 year-$32 million dollar contract. Teague is a bit inconsistent and streaky at times, but has a major upside and look for his numbers to skyrocket this season off of the 14.6 points and 7.2 rebounds per game that he gave Atlanta last season.
Sharpshooter, Kyle Korver, has also re-signed with Atlanta and teams need that role player that can knock down a 3-pointer at crucial times of a game; Korver is the man for the job.
Former Philadelphia 76er, Louis Williams, got a dose of what it’s like to play for Atlanta last season and if he can recover quickly from his past injury, Williams will be a reliable source of offense coming off of the bench and he’s also capable of starting.
The Hawks took the international route via the NBA Draft as they traded away Shane Larkin and some cash to move up and get 7 foot center, Lucas Noguiera out of Spain and took Dennis Schroeder out of Germany as their 17th pick.
Noguiera has a long wing-span and can run the court for a big man. This could prove to be an asset as the Hawks are looking for the next Mutombo, but his offense need’s work. Schroeder has great length, great defending abilities, and can get past the defender at will with a very quick step. We shall see how these NBA picks work out for Atlanta, but the loss of Josh Smith seems to be covered.
Atlanta is a lottery sports pick at 115/1 to win the Championship in the NBA odds. A lot of people are expecting a dropoff with the loss of Josh Smith, but I’m expecting a similar season, if not better than last year as this will be a more disciplined team with a new head coach. Look for 45-49 wins this season; this isn’t a full-fledged 50 win team just yet.Join the discussion on the upcoming 2013-14 NBA season on SBRForum's basketball message boards!