After almost a decade in Atlanta, Al Horford has moved on and selected to join the Boston Celtics. Hawks didn’t offer him the max contract offer, Boston did, and he decided that it was the best to hit the road. But Hawks haven’t lost just a quality player. He was their identity. And one of the best players in franchise history.
Now Dwight Howard is in town. He is probably a better option for the Hawks financially as he signed a three-year deal. Coach Mike Budenholzer now has an athletic defender and power player in Howard, and he will pair him up with stretch four Paul Milsap. If somebody can find a spot for Dwight Howard on offense, it’s coach Bud. Dwight did look good in some of the preseason action, so there are reasons for optimism in Atlanta.
They have also parted ways with Jeff Teague, who is just like Horford. He has been with the Hawks for a long time, and now they need to replace his production. Dennis Schroder will be the starter for the Hawks this season. It would have been much better if Teague was on the floor just to make it all work with a new player like Dwight. They will change their playbook just a bit now when Howard is on the team. Teague is the guy to make that transition easier.
Schroder didn’t want to sit behind Teague anymore, so Hawks made a move and shipped him to Indiana. His shot is still a work in progress, and we have seen what he can and can’t do in that series against the Celtics. They also have Bazemore who is a legitimate NBA starter, and he proved it last season. When teams wanted to hide their bad defender on somebody, they did that on Bazemore. But he made everybody pay every single time.
This team will need to find their identity. They need to jump out to a good start and to get on the same page as quickly as possible. But, we don’t think this Hawks team is as good as it was in the past two seasons. They should be good enough for a 45-37 record, but we believe they are a First Round exit. Cavaliers, Raptors, Celtics, and Pacers are better than this Hawks squad.