It was another year of mediocrity in Atlanta last season, and the Hawks were once again bounced from the playoffs with nothing to show for it. The Hawks ended the regular season with 44 wins, and ended the playoffs with an overall losing record in the NBA odds at 39-47-2 ATS.
While they were far from an elite team in the east, the Hawks do have some building blocks, to which they added and subtracted from this offseason. Let’s take a look and see what the Hawks will look like going into next season.
The loss of Josh Smith through free agency was somewhat expected in Atlanta, but there was hope that he would resign with the team. Now that he is in Detroit, his absence left a huge hole to fill at the power forward slot in the south, and they filled it rather nicely and with somewhat of a bargain.
The Hawks snagged Paul Millsap in free agency and signed him to a deal that pays him less than $10 a year for the next few seasons. While he may not be an upgrade from Smith, his skill set is a much better fit alongside Al Horford, who will now see a big upgrade in touches on the offensive end, while Millsap isn’t that much of a downgrade. No longer will Horford have to differ to Smith, and even though Millsap should get his normal 15 points per game, he doesn’t need more than 8-9 shots per game to get it.
The next biggest move for the Hawks is the most recent, and that is the retention of Jeff Teague. Teague’s offer sheet was matched, and even though there looked to be some bad blood between him and Danny Ferry, the Hawks’ GM, all seems well now, and Teague is going to get a big raise for the next four years, as he is set to make around $8 million per season.
The Hawks also paid out some big money to sharpshooting Kyle Korver, who was a hot commodity on the free agent market. Although the Hawks outbid everyone for his services, and even though he may be slightly overpaid at 4 years $24 million, he is also one of, if not the best spot up shooter in the Eastern Conference, making him very valuable.
On top of Lou Williams coming back from ACL surgery, the Hawks brought in Elton Brand to back up Millsap in the frontcourt. With all of this considered, the Hawks could be dangerous this season, but with the East so improved, do they have a better chance at winning the East this season?
The answer is no according to top sportsbooks, because the Hawks are +8000 in the NBA Odds to win the title next season. They were around 60/1 last year at this time. Even though they may be a better all around team than a season ago, they haven’t gotten much better if at all, and the rest of the conference around them is twice as good this season.With teams like the Wizards, Pistons and Cavs threatening for playoff spots in the East this season, and with the improvements made to teams like the Bulls, Heat and Nets, it might be another mediocre season both ATS and in the future odds for the Hawks. They may be better served to trade off Al Horford to a contending team willing to pay for him, and go for the lottery this season. Without Horford’s contract next season, the Hawks could potentially sign two super stars while only paying a slight amount of luxury tax. This could end up being a tank year for the Hawks if they start off the season slow. I’m quickly going to start fading them this season if indeed things start south, but I’m holding out to see if they have any value as an underdog NBA Pick.