The brief NBA offseason has come to an end. The Hawks start their season tonight against Stan Van Gundy’s Detroit Pistons at Phillips Arena. The game has been sold out, and surely more Hawks fans will be tuning in tonight than there were a year ago. This team took the city by storm last season, only to see the team fall apart in the postseason. The Hawks will look for revenge and redemption as they get their clean slate. Charles Barkley may not think these guys will be a top 5 team in the East, but he couldn’t be any more wrong. This is still a strong Hawks team with championship aspirations. Let’s take a look at a few things fans should watch for in the season opener.
The Battle on the Boards
Despite the team’s success last season, the Hawks finished 28th in total rebounding. The team did a lot to address this need in the offseason. They brought in Tiago Splitter and Edy Tavares. Splitter is an experienced Center who has familiarity with Coach Bud’s system. He will definitely add a huge boost on the glass, and will allow Al Horford to log some minutes at Power Forward, giving us a lot more size. Atlanta also brought over 7’3″ Edy Tavares, though his role probably won’t be significant in the early going. Most importantly, the Hawks made addition by subtraction when they parted ways with Pero Antic, who was frankly just a sorry backup big man. The Hawks get a great test tonight against a rising superstar Center in Andre Drummond.
Minute Allocation on the Wing
The Hawks announced that Kent Bazemore will start at Small Forward on the season opener. However, given that there is no clear cut starter, it will be interesting to see if Coach Bud will use a committee approach to fill the void left by Demarre Carroll. Both Tim Hardaway Jr. and Justin Holiday struggled in the preseason, and Thabo Sefolosha was just recently cleared to play. Lamar Patterson is in the mix for mintues as well, but like Tavares, he will likely start out in a limited role. Keep an eye on the box score after the game, because the minute allocation will be indicative of Coach Bud’s plans going forward.
Will the Team “Click?”
Sure, injuries accounted for the Hawks’ season coming to an abrupt end against the Cavs. However, there is no denying that the Hawks simply were not the same team down the stretch. The ball movement was not the same, and they looked nothing like they did when they were in the midst of a historical January. Though the team got off to a slow start last season, fans will most definitely want to see “Hawks brand” basketball that has made many grow attached to this team. The team wants to start out on the right foot, so hopefully they can put last season’s playoffs behind them and play with the same confidence they did throughout the regular season last year.