Atlanta Hawks: Offseason Grades

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Nov 21, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks forward Paul Millsap (4) and forward DeMarre Carroll (5) box out Detroit Pistons forward Josh Smith (6) in the first quarter at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Choosing Paul Millsap over DeMarre Carroll

This was the necessary evil of the offseason. The Hawks had enough money to keep only one of Carroll and Millsap. I think they made the right call. Millsap has developed into arguably Atlanta’s best player. He led the team in scoring and rebounding last season by averaging 16.7 points and 7.8 rebounds per game on 47.6 percent shooting and 35.6 percent from three-point range.

Millsap is the straw that stirs the drink, so to speak. His progression from midrange monster to three-point swishing stretch-four is part of what makes the Hawks so difficult to stop on offense. Replacing him with a league average or worse power forward would have torpedoed this team. Losing Millsap takes the Hawks from title contender to a team battling for something like the 6th seed in the Eastern Conference, in my opinion. Losing Carroll to the Raptors hurts, but they can recover from it. I’m not sure they would have recovered from the loss of Millsap.

That being said, Carroll was extremely valuable last season. Defensively he checked the opponent’s best wing scorer and could also go in the post against power forwards at times. It’s going to be tough to replace his defensive versatility with the players they currently  have on the roster. “Three and D” guys don’t grow on trees. Where he really blossomed was on offense. Carroll averaged only 12.6 points per game, but he shot 39.5 percent from three-point range giving Atlanta four capable three-point shooters in their starting five.

Not many teams can say that. You can argue that Teague’s penetration and Korver’s dominance created open shots for Carroll, but there is something to be said for knocking down shots. Not everyone can do that with regularity, Carroll did it and then some last season.

But, the Hawks did what was best for the team. They had to keep Millsap.

Grade: A

Next: Holiday Road