It is never too early to start predicting regular season records, and with the NBA draft complete and free agency winding down, we are beginning to see how this Hawks roster is going to shape out heading into the season. Atlanta might still be in the running for a few players left on the market, but there are not many game changing names remaining. The Hawks are in rebuild mode, and this roster is not going to get much prettier. However, Atlanta has made it to ten straight postseason appearances for a reason, and even won 60 games without a true superstar. Is this the year that streak comes to an end?
Chase Irle: It is not necessarily surprising that no starter from that sixty win season two years ago is still on the roster. What is surprising was that the Hawks front office was able to get very little in return for all of those players. Their two biggest stars, Al Horford and Paul Millsap, walked for basically nothing. Atlanta has a nice young core and several first-round draft picks in the next two seasons, but could you imagine what kind of future they would be looking at if they had received proper value for those two players.
This year’s team will be the first of the major rebuild Atlanta will be going through. Many Hawks fans might be hoping that mean the team will be tanking for the top overall pick, but I cannot see that happening under Coach Budenholzer. He constantly has his team prepared and playing at the top of their game. That may not mean winning 60 games, but I expect the Hawks to be in the conversation for the East’s final playoff spot.
With so many teams tanking, that might only be about 35-40 wins. I’ll put the Hawks season win total for 32 at this moment. This should leave them out of the playoffs for the first time in eleven seasons and in position for a top-10 draft pick.
Michael Arkin: There has been quite a change in the Atlanta Hawks organization this past off-season. Travis Schlenk was named the new general manager, and had a large part in assembling the Warriors dynasty. His first moves seemed exactly like former GM Danny Ferry’s first moves were, which was to dump bad contracts and build for a bright future.
Dwight Howard was the first to go, as he was traded to the Hornets in order to try to shed the $23.5 million he was owed. Tim Hardaway Jr., a restricted free agent who seemed to have truly polished his game, was signed by the New York Knicks for 4 years/$71 million. Schlenk wants to have flexibility in contracts for now and the future, so he and the team ultimately decided to not match the offer.
And then the Hawks lost a true superstar on and off the court: Paul Millsap. The 32-year old entered unrestricted free agency and was highly coveted by many NBA teams. Atlanta seems to have decided to go a new direction, ultimately letting Millsap walk, as they did not offer him a contract. He signed with the Denver Nuggets for 3 years/$90 million.
This team will look a lot different then years before. Dennis Schroder will be highly looked upon to lead this very young team, along with second-year player Taurean Prince. Both have very bright futures ahead of them and the team will have to look at them as the top scoring options and leaders coming into next season. Atlanta also selected John Collins, a power forward out of Wake Forest, with the 17th overall selection. While summer league is something people should not base players off of, Collins actually did dominate summer league and looked as if he can become a starter sooner rather than later.
Atlanta will not be making the playoffs next season. And while that might not be great to hear, they are building for a future ahead of them and trying to create a dynasty. With the Warriors dominating the league for years to come and Lebron James still playing in the east, there is really no rush to race to compete for a NBA championship. The Hawks are starting a new chapter as an organization and will miss the playoffs for the first team in 10 years.
Harrison Coburn: I have the Hawks projected to win around 32 games next season with the current state of the roster. This total is only 11 games less than the win total from last season.
The Hawks are losing a ton of talent. However, Dewayne Dedmon will be able to fill a role similar Dwight Howard’s last season, and John Collins looks like a serious talent. Dennis Schroder is approaching his prime and has gotten exponentially better year in and year out. Taurean Prince could make big strides as well. For all of these reasons, and the fact that they have a former NBA Coach of the Year who wants to win in Mike Budenholzer, the Hawks could easily overperform.
The East is very weak, but Hawks fans cannot forget when the team dropped eight consecutive contests in Paul Millsap’s absence last season. While Collins shows promise, he is merely a rookie and all of the Hawks talent is young and still being developed. The team is in store for a huge step back. The Hawks are likely are not a playoff team, but I expect them to be similar to the Miami Heat and the Dallas Mavericks last season. Both of these teams were in the midst of rebuilds, but good coaching had them playing good basketball by the end of the season. This team’s ceiling is around 40 wins, and that is still pretty unrealistic. The good news is that the Hawks have so many first rounders the next two years that they can afford to win games and not fully commit to a tank job. They will likely be a lottery team the next two seasons.