The Atlanta Hawks wrapped up preseason play in Dallas Wednesday with yet another loss, dropping to an unsightly 1-6 mark in October. They lost by over 10 points per contest, due mostly to poor defense. The team gave up almost 98 points per game to mostly watered down preseason NBA rosters. That will likely be the biggest issue going forward, especially given the team’s lack of size down low and the early loss of PF/C Gustavo Ayón. However, none of this should be a major concern as the Hawks underwent wholesale change in the offseason. It will take the preseason and handful of regular season game for everything to come together. In fact, the Hawks haven’t had a winning preseason since the 2009-10 campaign. Let’s just forget that any of this ever happened and move on.
There were, however, highlights through the pitiful results. Al Horford looked to be in midseason form, averaging 12.8 points per game on .538 FG%, 7.8 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game. Mike Scott also had a solid preseason, showing he deserves a roster spot as Soaring Down South writer Aaron Blue notes here. Newcomer Paul Millsap will look to show he was worth the offseason investment this season. He finished the preseason with a similar line to Al Horford: 12.4 points and 6.4 rebounds in 25.1 minutes of play per game. However, both Horford and Millsap were kept out of a couple of game due to nagging injuries: Horford to a mild hamstring problem and Millsap to left Achilles soreness.
The future does not bode too well for those looking to cling to one of the last Hawks’ roster spots. Point guard and former regular-season Hawk Royal Ivey was recently released, bringing the roster size to 16 total. The three players presumably at risk are Shelvin Mack, Cartier Martin and Eric Dawson. Mack manned the backup and third-string point guard positions down the stretch for the Hawks last season. Martin was recently a member of the Washington Wizards as a 3&D (three point shooter and small forward defense) player. Dawson is a 6’9” tweener forward and the longest shot of the three. Most believe the Hawks will only carry 14 players to give added flexibility going forward, and with Lou Williams still nursing his ACL injury, I think the Hawks will go with Mack for the time being. The team can hand out 10-day contracts starting in January, so Martin or James Johnson may return later this season as much-needed wing defenders.
In all, the Hawks have successfully tuned up for what looks to be an exciting NBA season.
Atlanta tips-off the regular season against the Mavericks in Dallas on Wednesday, October 30.
The Hawks waived Eric Dawson, effectively trimming the roster down to the regular-season maximum of 15 players. Find out the details here.