The Hawks’ miraculous 2014-2015 season saw them win a franchise record 60 games and capture the East’s number one seed. The Hawks blew away the competition in the regular season, but Lebron James and the Cavs proved to be far and away the best team in the East in the playoffs. The Hawks had some glaring weaknesses in the playoffs and attempted to address them this offseason. Whether it will be enough to shrink the gap between the Hawks and the Cavs is yet to be seen, but the team will feature a different look this season.
Tim Hardaway Jr. and Tiago Splitter were the two featured additions to the team, as Demarre Carroll and Pero Antic are the two significant losses to the team. Before we delve into the details, lets take a look at how the Hawks minutes were allocated last season.
Paul Millsap- 32.7 mpg
Kyle Korver- 32.2 mpg
Demarre Carroll- 31.3 mpg
Al Horford- 30.5 mpg
Jeff Teague- 30.5 mpg
Dennis Schroder- 19.7 mpg
Thabo Sefolosha- 18.8 mpg
Kent Bazemore- 17.7 mpg
Pero Antic- 16.5 mpg
Mike Scott- 16.5 mpg
Shelvin Mack- 15.1 mpg (55 games)
Elton Brand- 13.5 mpg (36 games)
Mike Muscala- 12.6 mpg (40 games)
John Jenkins- 12.4 mpg (24 games)
With the Hawks’ departures of both Demarre Carroll and Pero Antic, it leaves about 48 minutes available to allocate to both the new acquisitions and other Hawks looking to play a bigger role this upcoming season. Splitter will likely eat all of the minutes Antic received and more. The Hawks finally have a serviceable backup big man and will be able to give Horford and Millsap less minutes during the grind that is the NBA regular season. Carroll’s 31 minutes will likely be allocated to his starting replacement, Thabo Sefolosha, and the newly acquired Tim Hardaway Jr. Sefolosha will take over Carroll’s starting role this season and will see a nice uptick in minutes. The Hawks were 42-9 in games that Sefolosha was able to play in last season, and they really missed his presence in the playoffs. Hardaway will get some of Carroll’s minutes, but will also see some of Kyle Korver’s minutes. Korver was unreal last season on his way to his first All-Star appearance, but he is coming off a significant injury and will be turning 34 this season. The Hawks will look to limit his minutes and make sure he is healthy and ready for the postseason.
Other former Hawks that will see increased roles this season include Mike Muscala and Kent Bazemore. Both of these guys saw increased minutes in the playoffs last year and played very well. Even with the addition of Tiago Splitter, Muscala will see more minutes this season. He has good size at 6 feet 11 inches, can rebound well and spread the floor from the center position with his three-point shot. Muscala is an under the radar piece that could play a huge role for the Hawks this season. Bazemore will not see a huge increase in minutes, but expect some of those minutes that were given to Carroll last season to be given to Bazemore, as he proved to be a explosive 3 and D player in his own right.
The Hawks also added two other wing players this offseason that could crack the rotation. Justin Holiday was signed to a two-year deal by the Hawks. Holiday saw spot minutes with the Warriors last season, but could see a bigger role in Atlanta. Budenholzer seems to have eyed this guy out, and if he can keep improving he might even become the Hawks’ starting small forward at some point this season. Jason Richardson was signed by the Hawks to a non-guaranteed deal and is entering his 15th NBA season. He was unable to stay healthy in his three-year stint with the Philadelphia 76ers, but was a solid starter for them when he was on the court. He will likely just be a veteran presence for the Hawks, much like Elton Brand last season, but his defense and three-point shot could earn him some minutes if he is healthy.
One Hawk we will likely see none of this year is Mike Scott. Scott was an explosive X-factor off the bench for the Hawks most of last season. However, he is facing several felony drug charged after being arrested in late July. All the details surrounding the case have yet to be released, but as it stands now, Scott will likely never play for the Hawks again.
Hawks fans should be bracing themselved for the start of another terrific ride this season. The core of the team is still in tact but sprinkled in are some fresh new faces. Here is how the Hawks rotation might look this season.
Paul Millsap- 31.7 mpg
Jeff Teague- 31.5 mpg
Al Horford- 29.8 mpg
Kyle Korver- 29.2 mpg
Thabo Sefolosha- 27.5 mpg
Tiago Splitter- 25.5 mpg
Tim Hardaway Jr.- 23.4 mpg
Dennis Schröder- 20.5 mpg
Mike Muscala- 18.3 mpg
Kent Bazemore- 17.9 mpg
Justin Holiday- 14.4 mpg
Shelvin Mack- 14.0 mpg (55 games)
Jason Richardson- 12.6 mpg (40 games)
Lamar Patterson- 11.4 mpg (27 games)
As can be seen, the Hawks feature a much deeper team than they did last year. Starters will still get the bulk of the minutes, but expect to see Splitter and Hardaway Jr. on the floor early and often.