Maybe this wasn’t the team most expected. Maybe you have questions about the ability to compete in an improved Eastern Conference. But it’s inarguable to assert the Atlanta Hawks front office does not have the long term image of this franchise in mind.
Danny Ferry is following in the footsteps of the San Antonio Spurs organization by maintaining cap flexibility in future years while looking globally for talent that can help this Hawks team.
Returning from last season are Al Horford, Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver, Lou Williams, John Jenkins, Mike Scott, probably Shelvin Mack and probably not DeShawn Stevenson.
Williams is still recovering from a nasty ACL tear he suffered in January. There has been an ongoing NBA TV video series logging his recovery to being the player he use to be, but still probably will not be ready by opening night.
That means the Teague-Horford pick -and-pop is still very much in play and will be a main staple of the Atlanta offense early and often. They both clearly developed chemistry on the offensive end, and further development may have to fill the void left by what was the must talked about Smith-Horford high-low play. The full transition from Larry Drew’s motion offense to a Budenholzer-Spurs heavy pick and roll offense will put the ball in Teague hands even more.
Jenkins and Korver can and will form a lethal long range attack. DeMarre Carroll will pair with Korver to provide stout defensive resistance to opposing wings. This seems to be the remaining need for a rebuilt Hawks roster: another capable player who can man the small forward position off the bench.
Some may be puzzled by turning Josh Smith into Paul Millsap and Elton Brand, as casual fans may equate name recognition with on floor production. But glossing over the merits of these two forwards would be a big mistake, as I have outlined earlier here with regards to Millsap. Brand brings to the team veteran leadership in the form of crafty but effective post defense. His offensive game is rapidly evaporating but it seem the Hawks will have enough weapons around him to give him the ability to become the big banger in the post Atlanta needs.
There will be a clear international flavor with the 2013-14 Hawks. The fear of the unknown overseas prospect is real, but a foray into xenophobia would be a silly mindset. The list is long regarding successful but previously unknown international players in this league.
The two first rounders that have made a lot of noise in the Las Vegas Summer League have been Lucas Nogueira of Brazil and Dennis Schröder of Germany. Schröder dazzled the Nevada crowd with fancy passes that drew comparisons to Rajon Rondo and Nogueira showed a propensity to throw down alley oops from anywhere close to the basket. Both are extremely raw as NBA level players, but both are young and have the needed work ethic to better themselves toward being staples of an NBA franchise.
If nothing else, the drafting of Dennis Schröder will at least push Jeff Teague to elevate his game. He had many lulls and long lapses as the team’s floor general last season but he has a protégé and a same team rival with which to work and learn. Should Schröder show the ability to man the starting point guard spot in the new season or two, the trade rumors involving Teague may begin to swirl.
In addition, the post rotation has been filled out with more tough, foreign born players. Pero Antić is known for throwing his 6’10” 260 lb. frame around in the Euroleague for over a decade. He’s been credited as a stout defender with a capable jump shot, a la smaller Zaza Pachulia. The large Macedonian was given high regards by Wendell Maxey of Ridiculous Upside.
Recent news has also come in that the Hawks have put in a waiver claim for Gustavo Ayon. This will be the third season playing for his fourth NBA team for Ayon, who came as a highly talented prospect from Mexico. He’ll be expected to grab offensive rebounds among perform other grit work free of accolades as yet another 6-10 forward-center the Hawks own.
With the recent signings of Ayon and Antić, it might force Mike Muscala out of the picture for the Hawks. Also, depending on whether Lucas Noguiera signs in Atlanta or stays overseas, the big man rotation may be in serious flux as Mike Budenholzer looks to find contributors after Horford, Millsap and Brand.
It may be an unfamiliar roster to those with little knowledge of foreign basketball league but it seems as though the common theme is drama-less hardworking individuals that can gel quickly and seamlessly. Sometimes all the excitement resides solely in the uncertainty.