After being swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers to end their season yet again, the Atlanta Hawks were in clear need of some new faces. With the core of Jeff Teague, Paul Millsap, and Al Horford yet again coming up short, the time was now to reshape the roster, and the Hawks did just that. The Hawks were one of the more busy teams on the trade, and free agent market this summer.
The Atlanta Hawks Off-season Made Them a Better Team
Trading away Jeff Teague Makes the Hawks Younger and Quicker
In the beginning hours of the NBA off-season, the Hawks dealt all star point guard Jeff Teague to the Indiana Pacers in a three team deal which gave them the 12th pick in the NBA draft; with that pick, the Pacers selected Baylor forward Taurean Prince. Prince, a four year player, is a two way threat; he can hit the outside jumper, can get to the free throw line, and is a good perimeter defender. Prince could pan out to be similar Warriors forward Andre Iguodala with his two way, aggressive play.
Trading away Teague not only gives them a young forward with potential, but it gives them the opportunity to make Dennis Schroder the full time point guard. Schroder has been Teague’s backup his entire career, and the last two years he has shown that he has what to takes to run the offense in Atlanta, especially in the postseason. In last year’s series’ against both Boston and Cleveland, Schroder outplayed Teague at certain times, leading to Teague sitting on the bench during crucial fourth quarter minutes. The reality is, Schroder is the better option player wise, and contract wise going forward. He has more upside in his game, and while he. like Teague, is a free agent next summer, he is restricted, meaning the Hawks can match any offer he is presented with. Going forward, Schroder is the better option, and the Hawks realized that. They also realized that it was time to part ways with longtime center Al Horford.
Replacing Horford with Howard is Better Now and in the Long Run
Al Horford has been a Hawk for his entire career, and over that span of time, Horford has become of the NBA’s best centers; however, the Hawks came to their census, and realized that it was time to part ways. Despite Horford being an all star the previous two seasons, he has regressed. After years of being physical in the paint offensively, Horford has become a perimeter player, and isn’t the post presence he once was; he’s a completely different player. The Hawks let Horford walk to the Boston Celtics on a hefty 4 year/ 113 million dollar deal, a deal which the Hawks would have been foolish to offer. Horford is being payed to be the presence that Kevin Garnett once was, and Horford isn’t that type of player. He is a talented, versatile big man, but he’s not a superstar; however, Hawks new center Dwight Howard may be that superstar big man the Hawks have been searching for.
The Hawks inked star center Dwight Howard to a 3 year/ 70.5 million dollar deal. After his three year stint in Houston, Howard decided that he needed to leave the Rockets; a team headlined by James Harden, and Howard’s former coach with the Lakers, Mike D’Antoni, who Howard wasn’t fond of. Howard, while criticized for not being the Shaq-like presence in the paint, is one of the best big men in the NBA, and is an upgrade to Al Horford. He has always been a player that hits the boards, can get physical in the paint, and despite being criticized for taking a while to develop it, has a reliable post game. Howard, while 30 years of age, is still one of the more perennial forces in the NBA, and is a force to be reckoned with. Howard’s on court production will be an upgrade to Al Horford, but his contract makes him more valuable as well. Howard on a three year deal, while a hefty price, isn’t a max deal, which gives the Hawks some more cap flexibility going forward. Howard, is an upgrade to Horford both talent wise and financially.
Signing Jarrett Jack was a Steal
In addition to Howard, the Hawks brought in point guard Jarrett Jack on a veteran’s minimum deal, which is a complete steal. While Jack’s season ended early due to a tore ACL, when he’s healthy, he’s one of the best scoring punches off the bench in the NBA. He’ll serve as a great backup to Dennis Schroder. While Jack was a shrewd move, the Hawks also were able to retain swingman Kent Bazemore, albeit a hefty deal.
Retaining a Blossomed Wing in Bazemore
The Hawks were able to resign swingman Kent Bazemore to a 4 year/ 70 million dollar deal. Last season, Bazemore replaced the departed Demarre Carroll in the starting rotation, and as a result he had a breakout season. Bazemore became a two way threat with his shooting ability, attack mindset offensively, and his lockdown perimeter defense. While brought back at a hefty price, Bazemore is much needed in Atlanta. The Hawks need another wing to score from the outside, and a lockdown defender on the perimter; Bazemore is that player. With a healthy Kyle Korver and Kent Bazemore, the Hawks have one of the more dangerous shooting duos in the NBA.
The new look Hawks are much improved. With Dennis Schroder finally taking the keys of the offense from Jeff Teague, the Hawks will become a more penetrating team offensively; with Dwight Howard, the Hawks get the post presence they’ve been deprived of outside of Paul Millsap. Howard and Millsap together pose a dangerous threat in the paint, especially with Millsap’s complete offensive game, he can play in the post, and out on the perimeter. Bazemore’s return will keep one of the better three and d players on the Hawks for the next four years, and Jarrett Jack will be the scoring punch off the bench at a discounted price. The Atlanta Hawks have a new look this season, and they are destined for a much better season than last year.