2013-14 Atlanta Hawks Preview and Predictions: Swoop Down on the Foe
By Jonar Sabilano | October 15, 2013 2:38 PM EST
2012-13 Result: 44-36, 6th in the Eastern Conference, lost to Indiana 2-4 in the first round of the playoffs
Key Additions: Paul Millsap, Dennis Schroeder, Elton Brand, Pero Antic, Gustavo Ayon, DeMarre Carroll, Eric Dawson, Royal Ivey, James Johnson, coach Mike Budenholzer
Key Departures: Zaza Pachulia, Josh Smith, Devin Harris, Anthony Tolliver, Dahntay Jones, coach Larry Drew
The Hawks seem to have gotten stronger and bigger in the 2013-14 offseason. Sure, they lost erstwhile franchise player Josh Smith, but they got a slew of legitimate NBA veterans, certified scorers and role players in return-to-fit coach Larry Drew's style of play.
After signing designated sniper Kyle Korver to a four-year contract extension, it seems that the Hawks are set at the wings for the time being. Korver averaged 11 points in 2012-13, making 45.7 per cent of his three-point attempts and improving his rebounding output and passing more. While Korver might not be franchise-player material, his renewal brings a semblance of stability to an Atlanta team in need of a leader.
Atlanta's biggest offseason acquisition is Paul Millsap, a versatile player who can score both inside and outside, and who provided much of the Utah Jazz's offensive sock in 2012-13. Millsap also brings added rebounding and inside defense to the team. Other offseason acquisitions include Gustavo Ayon, who led his Mexico team to a FIBA Americas title during summer, Macedonian center Pero Antic and former All-Star forward Elton Brand who is looking for a career resurrection after a so-so performance with Dallas.
So far, though it appears that the "franchise player" tag belongs squarely to forward Al Horford, the seventh-year man out of Florida who averaged 17.4 points and 10.2 rebounds a game in the past season. Supporting him is fast-rising point guard Jeff Teague who had a personal-best 7.2 assist average in 2012-13 on top of 14.6 points and 1.5 steals. Teague has done a stellar job after starting guard Louis Williams went down with an ACL tear in January. Williams is still not 100%, but if and when he returns, the 1-2 spots will be secure for the Hawks.
Season Prediction: With a lot of new players coming in for the Atlanta Hawks, it will be up to new coach Mike Budenholzer to patch together a team that shares the ball. Horford will always be a steadying presence in the paint, but it will be up to Jeff Teague to orchestrate the offense and anchor the perimeter defense. They will reach the second round of the playoffs and possibly make an appearance at the conference finals, shocking a few top-tier teams along the way.
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