State of the Southeast Division: Atlanta Hawks


The Southeast Division is the home of the Charlotte Hornets. It is also the home of the Atlanta Hawks, Miami Heat, Orlando Magic, and Washington Wizards. The winner of the division gets a playoff berth. The Hornets may improve or decline year to year but that absolute result is often lost if the division around them crests or bottoms out around them.

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It is not enough for the Hornets to improve their roster to improve their record. They have to improve their roster relative to the teams around them in their division. So to judge the chances of the Hornets, we have to judge the other teams in their division. So today will be the Atlanta Hawks.

The 2014 Hawks went from a strong eighth place finish in 2013 to the top seed in the playoffs. Their brand of team basketball took them as far as the conference finals when they ran into LeBron James and lost sharpshooter Kyle Korver to a collision with Matt Dellavedova. DeMarre Carroll was also injured.

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Here’s what they looked like –

C Al Horford
PF Paul Millsap
SF DeMarre Carroll
SG Kyle Korver
PG Jeff Teague

Key Bench – G Dennis Schroder, G Kent Bazemore, F Mike Scott, F Pero Antic

That team won 60 games and scored 8409 points in those victories.
Assuming the Eastern Conference did not shift much, the Hawks would be a team looking to stand pat and keep their team together. They re-signed leading scorer Millsap, but could not match an offer from the Toronto Raptors for Carroll.

The Hawks did get the Spurs big man Tiago Splitter this off season. They also traded for Tim Hardaway Jr and rookie Jerian Grant from the New York Knicks. This means that this year’s Hawks team is a deeper team than last year’s, but replacing Carroll in the starting lineup is not easy. No single player on the Hawks roster has the combination of ‘3-and-D’ that Carroll brought.

The Hawks could start Hardaway and move Korver to the small forward, but that would be a defensive concern. They could also start Thabo Sefolosha and just understand they will not get much offense. Gut would say the latter choice is more likely since that person will be the fifth offensive option regardless of who it is.

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  • Possible Hawks Lineup

    C – Al Horford
    PF – Paul Millsap
    SF – Thabo Sefolosha
    SG – Kyle Korver
    PG – Jeff Teague

    Key bench – G Dennis Schroder, G Tim Hardaway, Jr, C Tiago Splitter, G Kent Bazemore, F Mike Scott

    The division the Hawks are in got better this off season, but there is not really a case to be made for the Hawks slipping much. They are not likely to be sixty games good again, but a win total over 50 is achievable. They have the best skill at the post in the starting lineup. They are the most complete TEAM in the division, but they have no single claim on greatness. This is why they lost out to the Cavs.

    The Hornets will be looking at a Hawks team that should perform similarly to the one they faced last year. The Hornets were 2-2 in those games, which could bode well if the Hornets have improved from last year.

    Next: Hornets Summer League Recap