Who are the most crucial Atlanta Hawks players? Part 1

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Mike Scott throws down a dunk in the first quarter. (Ronald Martinez/NBA/Getty Images)

Everyone knew the Atlanta Hawks would have a different look heading into the 2013-2014 campaign. Last season, the team was built with players on expiring contracts, nearly all of which are no longer with the team. Only six Hawks — Al Horford, Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver, Lou Williams, John Jenkins, and Mike Scott — remain from the 2012-2013 Hawks roster. That means the Hawks will start this upcoming season with nine new players. In addition, GM Danny Ferry gutted last season’s coaching staff. Former Hawks coach Larry Drew is now the head man in Milwaukee. Spurs assistant Mike Budenholzer, accompanied by an entirely new group of assistants, takes over the reigns as head coach of the Atlanta Hawks.

Welcome to a new era of basketball at Philips Arena!

Last season’s team was able to win 44 games. Matching that win total will be a challenge for this year’s team. Not only will the players need time to gel, but they will have to adjust to the new coaching staff as well. Don’t forget to add in the fact that the entire Eastern Conference should be considerably more challenging this season, including tougher versions of the Charlotte Bobcats, Orlando Magic and Washington Wizards within the Hawks’ own Southeast division.

Surpassing last season’s total victory count and continuing the organization’s current streak of six consecutive playoff appearances would be great goals for this year’s version of the Hawks. In fact, those are the goals I have personally set for the team. For this to be accomplished, certain Hawks players will be crucial to the team’s success — some more than others.

This is the first of two posts in which I will rank the current 15 players on the Hawks roster in terms of their importance on achieving the goals I have set for this season.