It’s been 5 games into the season now, and it’s time to take a look at what we’ve learned about the team so far as an indicator of how the rest of the season is likely to shape up. The Hawks are 2-3 after 5 games, and while there is obviously room for improvement, there are a lot of things to be excited about, too. Here are the 5 things we’ve learned about the Hawks after 5 games:
1. The Hawks are in desperate need of some defensive help at the guard position
The Hawks have been throttled by scoring guards so far, particularly quick and speedy ones who can create their own shot. Monta Ellia (32 pts), Demar DeRozan (31 pts), Isaiah Thomas (26 pts), and Ty Lawson (23 pts) had the most points on their respective teams against the Hawks. The onus is mostly on Kyle Korver, who the Hawks play primarily at the 2. They are hoping he can make up for his lack of athleticism with a high basketball IQ. This is clearly not working out well, and they would be wise to move Korver back to the 3 spot and give someone like Dennis Schroder a shot at the 2 until Lou Williams gets back.
2. Al Horford and Paul Millsap give the Hawks an elite frontcourt
Wasn’t it fun watching Horford and Millsap dominate late in the game against the Kings and completely bail their teammates out of a loss? The duo combined for 18 of the team’s 23 fourth quarter points and completely wore down the Kings defense. We know by now that Teague is not much of a late-game player; he tends to do work early in games and let his big guys handle it down the stretch. Adding Millsap gives the Hawks another player willing to carry the load late in games, and this now creates a realistic recipe for postseason success. Millsap, in his own regard, has been outstanding.
3. The Hawks were smart to re-sign Jeff Teague
I know it’s just five games into the season, but something looks excitingly different about Jeff Teague. He seems much more confident in his role as a floor general and as a team leader, is rapidly emerging as one of the elite point guard talents in the league. His season averages thus far: 17.2 points, 9.2 assists, 2.6 rebounds. All are career highs for Teague, and it’s a wonder to think how much worse the 2-3 Hawks would be without him at the helm. Teague is the player who can elevate this team from good to great, and I suspect that he will once he gets even more comfortable with his new weapon in the frontcourt, Paul Millsap.
4. Danny Ferry is a shrewd businessman
Ferry has managed to construct a legitimate contender for right now while still retaining the status of building for the future. That is not something many GMs can lay claim to. His offseason moves of letting Josh Smith walk, bringing in Paul Millsap, re-signing Jeff Teague and drafting Dennis Schroder all seem like brilliant moves thus far, and he has given new life to an Atlanta Hawks organization that badly needed it.
5. Dennis Schroder is a lot more NBA ready than expected
I mean this from a physical and mental perspective. Schroder has already established himself as the preferred option off the Hawks bench because of his blazing athleticism and ability to wear teams down with his attack mentality. He looks every bit as good as advertised thus far. In addition, Schroder was suspended for the fifth game after blatantly hitting DeMarcus Cousins in the groin, and this is something I am actually very cheerful about. For a foreign, first-year player to have the guts to go after one of the meanest, most intimidating players in the league is a message. He is not afraid of you, and he will aggressively show you so if you test him. Wake up, NBA. Dennis Schroder is here.