In the next two weeks, the Armchair crew will be taking on the NBA Regular Season preview. We will be taking on each team individually and looking into what to expect from each.
Last Season: 60-22
Key Losses: DeMarre Carroll, Pero Antic, Serbian mercenary squad
Key Additions: Thiago Splitter, Tim Hardaway Jr., Justin Holiday
The Atlanta Hawks stayed fairly put last season, and to be fair, after having one of the most surprising performances of the year, why wouldn’t they. Slowly establishing themselves as Spurs-east with unselfish ball movement, smooth shooting from Kyle Korver and phenomenal all around performances this team came out of the gate, and they may just repeat it this year.
With the Hawks this year what you see is what you get, except this time with defensive intensity. Thiago Splitter is miles better than Antic and slotting him with either Hortford or Milsap will strengthen the birds’ defence down low. Thiago is experienced in facing the human steamroller that is LeBron is well. Actually, he was trained by Pop in Siberian mountains every summer just for that purpose.
Offensively, there shouldn’t be much of a disruption from what we’ve seen already. I mean, we can argue that stopping Kyle Korver shouldn’t be difficult since we know what he does, but we’ve known what he does before and teams have thrown everything short of a Mongolian army at him and the man still scorched the earth.
This is a very Spursian team in a sense that they want to get different players going on different nights, they trust each other, and the addition of Splitter simply makes them tougher defensively, something they needed against the Cavs last year. Losing Carroll will hurt on that end, but Sefolosha is a good three and D guy that can slot in, if not into the starting line-up, then off the bench (although he has had experience starting on the Thunder, so I expect him to be the guy filling DeMarre’s shoes).
There are a few X-Factors here such as the development of Dennis Schroeder and how that can propel this team further. Two guard sets with Teague and Schroeder can throw teams for a loop, but would also give up some size defensively, which shouldn’t be an issue where the body type standard for the 2 slot is “Bradley Beal.”
In reality, the Hawks simply need everyone to perform at the level they did last year, while stepping up their defence, which Splitter will help with. Teague can run this offence quite well, and with his blazing speed and quickness we should see a lot of drive and kicks into fluid ball movement all-around.
Plausible best-case scenario: The offence stays the way we saw it last year while the defence takes a leap, now having a legitimate anchor to provide stability. The Hawks banish all demons and make it to the NBA finals.
Plausible worst-case scenario: The teams catch-on and while Splitter shores up the defence, his presence messes up the offensive chemistry. The loss of Carroll turns out to be more substantial than first thought as wing defence drops. They make the playoffs, but don’t go far.