HoopsHype Predicts The Atlanta Hawks To Take Southeast Division


Despite losing two starters from last season, the Atlanta Hawks are still being favored to finish atop of the Southeast Division next season.

Now that that brunt of free agency is over and all of the big-named players have signed with their new teams, it’s a safe time for foreshadowing the 2016-17 season. Training camp is just a few weeks away, which will finally give us a slightly better feel for how the new pieces are fitting.

With that being said, HoopsHype began their team previews with the Atlanta Hawks on the first day of September. Their final prediction of where the Hawks will end up by next season’s end is atop the Southeast Division and fifth overall in the Eastern Conference.

Within their preview, they included strengths and weaknesses of this Hawks team. Here’s how it looked:

"STRENGTHS: Paul Millsap–Dwight Howard should be one of the strongest big man duos in the NBA this season … Millsap is an underrated two-way player … He has quietly become one of the top defenders at the power forward position and continues to put up solid scoring and rebounding numbers … Howard is a reclamation project for the Hawks … If he doesn’t get his mojo back with his hometown team, it won’t happen anywhere … While much-criticized, Howard remains one of the best centers in the game … Even moreso if you keep him involved, which didn’t always happen in Houston … Pretty explosive perimeter with Dennis Schroder and Kent Bazemore … Schroeder has shown glimpses of greatness and should be super motivated now that he’s a starter … Bazemore’s athleticism and toughness are nice assets to have … Solid froncourt depth with Tiago Splitter and Kris Humphries … Even better if the promising Walter Tavares takes a step forward … Under Mike Budenholzer, the Hawks have usually played unselfish basketball … Defense should not be a problem for Atlanta … Opponents shot a mere 43.2 percent against them last season.WEAKNESSES: There’s not a go-to scorer here … It’s a pretty noticeable issue, especially in the playoffs … Putting the ball in the basket is just not this club’s strongest suit … They were the 21st team in the league in Offensive Rating in 2015-16, which doesn’t really scream “contenders” … A lot of key players on the wrong side of 30 … Three-point sniper Kyle Korver really declined last year … At age 35, perhaps we should not be expecting a bounce back … Staying healthy has been a challenge for Howard … His energy level and mobility are not what they once were … Trading Jeff Teague and giving the keys of the team to Schroeder is probably the right decision long-term, but it could hurt them this season … Not a lot of depth on the perimeter … They look stuck in the good-but-not-great zone."

The Southeast Division has certainly had plenty of turnover. The Miami Heat are the biggest question mark due to the status of Chris Bosh. He has been working out the last few weeks showing signs that he may be ready for next season, but with the danger that comes with his blood clots, the team may not want to take the risk of Bosh possibly losing his life on the court.

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Without Bosh, it weakens the division significantly. The Charlotte Hornets will then become the biggest threat to the Hawks. The Hornets have some questions of their own, though. They lost key contributors from last season in Courtney Lee, Al Jefferson, and Jeremy Lin in free agency. They signed Roy Hibbert, Ramon Sessions, and Marco Bellinelli to try and make up for those losses. Also, the return of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist could make them a strong contender if he manages to stay healthy.

The Washington Wizards are another team that struggles with injuries. Bradley Beal is the biggest culprit. If history repeats itself, Beal will struggle appearing in the lineup consistently and that alone can kill the Wizards’ playoff chances.

No one really knows what to make of the Orlando Magic. Their froncourt is extremely crowded and albeit with great players, it’s unknown if a big lineup with Aaron Gordon at the small forward can win in today’s NBA.

Next: Realistic Stat Line For Dwight Howard In 2016-17

The Hawks have the most well-balanced teams in terms of both young and experienced players. Losing Al Horford and Jeff Teague will sting at first, but eventually, this new era of Hawks basketball will prove to be successful as they look to make the playoffs for the tenth-straight season.