After their spectacular 2015 run, the Hawks wanted to keep the same core together to make a run at the NBA Finals again in 2016. However, it could not be done and the Hawks were forced to part ways withe Demarre Carroll. Carroll was a huge piece to the team, but Atlanta added some new faces to play big roles in this upcoming season. Here are some new looks Hawks fans will see a lot of this upcoming season.
Jeff Teague, Tim Hardaway Jr., Kyle Korver, Paul Millsap, Al Horford
Tim Hardaway Jr. will likely not be starting for the Hawks this season, but he will see a lot of minutes. He is a great shooter and scorer, and the Hawks did not give up a first-round pick to see him ride the bench. Hardaway Jr. struggles defensively, so it is unlikely we see him at the 3 position much this season.
In this lineup Korver moves down to the 3 slot. This is not something we saw a lot of last season, as Demarre Carroll got the bulk of the minutes at small forward. However, no real replacement was brought in when Carroll left for Toronto in free agency, so a lot of different players will be playing the small forward position this season. Korver had the best season of his career last year, and his improvements defensively since coming to Atlanta will allow him to see more time at the 3.
This will probably be the Hawks’ lineup when they are need of scoring. All five of these guys can shoot the ball from the perimeter, and with the exception of Korver, all of them can get to the bucket as well. The Hawks struggled to score at times in last year’s playoffs. That is why Hardaway was brought in, so expect to see this lineup a lot over the course of next season.
Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver, Paul Millsap, Al Horford, Tiago Splitter
There was a lot of talk when Tiago Splitter signed and Paul Millsap re-signed whether the Hawks were going start Millsap at the 3 and have a twin tower duo down low. While in theory that sounds great, it is likely not going to happen. Millsap is a terrific player who is very versatile, but he is not quick enough to guard players on the wing for 82 games in a season. Millsap’s versatality is best used in the post. His combination of strength and quickness is usually a mismatch down, but if it is not he can stretch the floor and shoot the three-ball.
Tiago Splitter was a terrific addition by Atlanta this offseason. He will do wonders for the team on the defensive end and on the glass. It will also allow Horford to play the power forward position at times. Horford is slightly undersized for a center even if he does not show it. When he gets to play the power forward position this year, he will be a terrific scoring threat in the post.
There are times Coach Budenholzer will elect to put all three big men on the floor at the same time. Last year, Atlanta got bullied on the boards in the playoffs. There will certainly be times this year when the Hawks are getting beat up on the glass. With this lineup on the floor, rebounding will not be a problem.
Jeff Teague, Dennis Schröder, Kyle Korver, Paul Millsap, Al Horford
This lineup is not exactly brand new. Coach Budenholzer put Teague and Schröder on the floor at the same time several times in last year’s postseason. The two point guard set worked well, and their combined quickness caused fits for defenders.
Schröder is a prime candidate for this year’s sixth man of the year award. He broke out last year and became one of the most recognizable players in a Hawks uniform. The 21-year old German point guard is poised to take the next step this season. Schroder will get more minutes this year and his impact will be felt.
Teague and Schröder are two terrific point guards and not utilizing them at the same time is not taking advantage of a huge mismatch, especially since they can both shoot.
Jeff Teague, Tim Hardaway Jr., Kyle Korver, Paul Millap, Mike Muscala
This will be the unit the team will feature when Coach Bud will look to stretch the floor. Korver slides over to the three to let Hardaway Jr. play at shooting guard. Paul Millsap shot 36% from beyond the arc last season and it doesn’t look like Mike Scott will be seeing the floor any time soon. Moose can play the 4 or 5 and stretch the floor, and expect him to see an uptick in minutes despite the addition of Tiago Splitter. With Antic, Scott and Brand now gone, Moose will finally have a shot to prove himself in the NBA, and you better believe Budenholzer will take advantage of his range.
Jeff Teague, Kent Bazemore, Thabo Sefolosha, Al Horford, Tiago Splitter
Sometimes you need to make a defensive substitution, and if a team is going for the last shot of the game this is the unit I would envision Coach Bud sending out there. Jeff Teague is a much better defensive point guard than many will give him credit for. Bazemore is a great defender and Sefolosha is one of the better defensive wings in the league. Having Horford and Splitter out there allows the Hawks enough versatility and size to hold their own down low or come out and defend a shooting big.
Losing Carroll actually leaves a lot of freedom in the hands of Coach Bud to get creative, so look for him to use lineup changes to cause various mismatches for opposing teams, much like his apprentice Gregg Popovich. I trust Budenholzer’s great basketball mind and game plan, and I’m excited to see how the team will fare now that we have help on the boards.