2014-15 Atlanta Hawks Season Preview: Guards


Jan 10, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks shooting guard Kyle Korver (26) and point guard Shelvin Mack (8) and point guard Jeff Teague (0) (left to right) react after defeating the Houston Rockets at Philips Arena. The Hawks defeated the Rockets 83-80. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

During our 2014-15 season previews, we will be previewing the starters, positions, bench, and more to get you prepared for the season. First up: Guards.

With the Hawks new system and coaching staff, guards play a major role when it comes to the offense and getting players in position to succeed. There is a great mix of young guys and veterans in this group, and the ceiling is very high.

Let’s take a look at this group of guards and the potential they have for this upcoming season:

The Players

The Hawks currently have 7 players that can play the point guard or shooting guard position — meaning they have a logjam at the guard spot. With Jeff Teague, Dennis Schröder, Shelvin Mack, Kyle Korver, John Jenkins, Kent Bazemore, and Thabo Sefolosha all having the word guard next to their name, it is up to Mike Budenholzer to get creative and find a way to work these guys into a solid rotation. The great thing about Korver, Sefolosha, and Bazemore is that they are versatile in both skillset and size, and they have the ability to play the small forward position. With the Hawks having 15 guaranteed contracts and only 13 players being able to dress, there is a chance Jenkins and Schröder could be inactive a lot this season.

The Rotation

It isn’t a secret that Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver will start for the Hawks, but what about the rest of the guys? It is a great problem to have when Thabo Sefolosha and Kent Bazemore — guys who have started and played well in that role — on the bench. Not only does that mean the Hawks have some great wing depth, but they also have a lot of defensive talent on their roster.

You can expect Korver and Teague to start, but it won’t be long until Budenholzer starts to get creative with the lineups and really take advantage of the versatility. Unless Schröder takes a big leap in camp, you can expect Mack to be the first point guard off the bench.

Here is our projected rotation for the seven players listed as a guard on the roster:

PG: Jeff Teague, Shelvin Mack, Dennis Schröder
SG: Kyle Korver, Kent Bazemore, Thabo Sefolosha, John Jenkins
SF: DeMarre Carroll, Thabo Sefolosha, Kent Bazemore

The Stats

Here are the per gameside by side stats from the 2013-14 season from the seven guards on the roster:

Jeff Teague:
PTS: 16.5/AST :6.7/REB: 2.6/FG: 43%/3P: 32%/TO: 2.9/STL: 1.1

Kyle Korver

PTS: 12/AST : 2.9/REB: 4/FG: 47%/3P: 47%/TO: 1.4/STL: 1

Shelvin Mack:
PTS: 7.5/AST : 3.7/REB: 2.2/FG: 41%/3P: 33%/TO: 1.2/STL: 0.7

Dennis Schröder:
PTS: 3.7/AST : 1.9/REB: 1.2/FG: 38%/3P: 23%/TO: 1.2/STL: 0.3

John Jenkins (2012-13; missed most of last season):
PTS: 6.1/AST : 0.9/REB: 1.5/FG: 44%/3P: 38%/TO: .07/STL: 0.2

Thabo Sefolosha:
PTS: 6.3/AST : 1.5/REB: 3.6/FG: 41%/3P: 31%/TO: 0.9/STL: 1.3

Kent Bazemore*:
PTS: 13.1/AST : 3.1/REB: 3.3/FG: 45%/3P: 37%/TO: 2.2/STL: 1.3

The Predictions

These set of guards have real potential to make a difference for this team, and if that potential is realized, this team could make some serious noise.

Let’s go one by one on predictions for these players:


Before Al Horford went down last season, one could argue that Teague could have been an All-Star. He was hitting career-highs across the board, and this team was sitting in the third place position in the East. After Horford was injured, it was a bit of a rough patch for the young point guard, and that drew a lot of Teague critics out of the woods. He still finished the season with respectable numbers, and had a fantastic playoff series against the Indiana Pacers.

This year, Teague can really take that next step and get into the elite point guard discussion if he can stay healthy. With another year in this system, Al Horford back, and another year of experience, Teague should have a monster season. Look for him to get some All-Star consideration this season.


Many NBA writers and bloggers have finally caught up to how great Korver is, and this year should be no different. Kyle does so much more than shooting, and he is the perfect player for this system. He led the league in three-point percentage last season, and has a great chance to repeat this season as well.

Because of the massive amount of injuries to the roster last season, Korver put on some heavy minutes last season, and still did well for his age. This season he has some depth behind him, which means we may see a fresher and more energized player on the court. Look for Kyle Korver to put up his same ol’ numbers and fly under the radar as one of the best two-way shooting guards in the league.


After acquiring Dennis Schröder in last year’s draft, many expected the Hawks to groom him as Jeff Teague’s backup. That wasn’t the case though, as Shelvin Mack played so well in training camp that Atlanta guaranteed his contract, and made him a key member of the rotation.

Barring a giant leap from Dennis in camp this season, expect Mack to continue to develop in that role after they brought him back on a three-year deal. Mack has the ability to play both guard positions, which means he may get some time next to Teague this season as well. He should continue right on the path of development and put up similar numbers this season.


Many people had put lofty expectations on Dennis Schröder for his rookie season, and to say he disappointed would be an understatement. Though a 19 year old rookie moving to a new country and playing in the best basketball league in the world should be given some slack, that just wasn’t the case.

Schröder could barely crack Budenholzer’s rotation, and only appeared in 49 games, and he seemed to be over his head when he was on the floor. Now, he will be again fighting an uphill battle in camp against Shelvin Mack. Playing with the German national team and on the Summer League team this summer could help Schröder get some experience and slow down, but he will have to prove it sooner rather than later. If he can prove to Bud that he is ready for more minutes, look for him to split time with Shelvin Mack. If not, he may be traded mid-season to a team like Boston or Philadelphia who is looking for young prospects.


Although last season was a bit of a let down for Sefolosha, this could be a big year for him. Though he barely cracked the 30% mark from beyond the arc last season, he shot over 40% from three the last two seasons before that. In an actual offense, he could really thrive — even more so than when he was in Oklahoma City. If he can learn to move the ball from side to side and quit pump faking as much (that stuff belongs to Pero), then he could have a breakout season. Just look at what DeMarre Carroll did last season. Sefolosha should get some big minutes at the small forward because of his defensive ability, but pairing him with DeMarre Carroll on the wing would pretty much ensure that guys like Kevin Durant will dread playing the Hawks.


Kent Bazemore is a real wild card. With his potential, he could have a year that skyrockets him to near-stardom, but it will take some hard work to reach that goal. He is a 6’5 guard/forward who has a 6’11 wingspan. He can handle the ball like a point guard, and his defensive potential could make him one of the best perimeter defenders in the league.

Having Bazemore in for just $2 million a year is a low risk/high reward contract for the Hawks. He shot over 37% from three-point range when he was on the Lakers last season, and really showed some flash. In this offense, and with shooters all around, Bazemore has a chance to make a splash this season. I expect Bazemore to become a household name this season, and become a key member of a playoff team.

The Conclusion

Overall, the guard position is a deep, talented department for the Atlanta Hawks. With seven guards on the roster, there could be some movement and dangling in the market. Almost everyone of these players provides a unique and versatile skillset that should translate in the Hawks’ system. This offense is predicated on ball movement, and it all starts with these guys. Let’s see if they are up to the task.

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