Atlanta Hawks 2016 Preview
2015 Season Review: 48-34, 2nd in Southeast Division, 4th in Eastern Conference
Playoff Finish: Eliminated by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2nd Round (0-4)
Offensive Rating Rank: 17th
Defensive Rating Rank: 2nd
Pace Rank: 8th
Dwight Howard (Free Agent – Houston Rockets)
Taurean Prince (Trade – Utah Jazz)
DeAndre’ Bembry (Drafted – 1st Round, 21st Overall)
Malcolm Delaney (Free Agent – Russia)
Jeff Teague (Free Agent – Indiana Pacers)
Al Horford (Free Agent – Boston Celtics)
The Atlanta Hawks made some major changes to their team this offseason as they said goodbye to Jeff Teague, their starting point guard, and Al Horford, their starting center. The hole left by Teague will be filled by Dennis Schroder who played considerably well off the bench. Shroder is an explosive player who has a quick first step, a great crossover and changes speeds well. He has the ability to get to the rim in isolation and can either finish strong, or with a floater over the outstretched hands of his defenders. A major weakness for Schroder is that he’s turnover prone, averaging 2.3 topg in just 20.3 mpg last season. I also worry about the chemistry between him and Dwight Howard. Both players have strong personalities and there is the potential for some locker room tension.
The other hole in the Hawks’ starting five will be plugged by the aforementioned big man, Dwight Howard. Howard is coming home to Atlanta where he’s expected to fill the shoes of ex-fan favorite, Al Horford. He is entering his age 30 season and it’ll be fun to see how he transitions to playing for Atlanta. Keep in mind that while most guys entering their age 30 season have been in the league for 9 or 10 years, this will be Howard’s 13th – there are a lot of miles on his body and eventually it’s going to catch up with him. Also keep in mind that Mike Budenholzer will have to shake things up on offense because Howard’s game doesn’t fit his current pace and space style. Howard has already admitted that he’s taken himself out of games when he gets upset about being left out of the offense, so Budenholzer has his work cut out for him. Personally, I think Howard is a massive crybaby and an instant detriment to whatever team he’s on. Last season he averaged 35.28 DKppg, the second lowest for him since 2005.
On the other hand, I can’t say enough good things about Paul Millsap. He is the best all around player on the Hawks and a nightly cash game option. MIllsap is one of the most consistent fantasy producers and should see a slight bump in usage with Teague and Horford gone. He picks up fantasy points all over the place, and has the ability to equal the output of higher priced PFs like Anthony Davis and Blake Griffin at about a $1000 discount.
The only thing to caution with Millsap is he’s 31 and coming off a career year. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that we see some regression. I’m not saying that Millsap’s production will take an absolute nosedive, but don’t be surprised if he sees a slight pullback from last year’s numbers.
Kyle Korver will be back to anchor the starting shooting guard role and at 35 I see the potential for some decline in production. His minutes per game have decreased in each of the last 3 seasons and I’d expect that trend to continue in 2016. Atlanta’s shooting certainly takes a hit with the departures of Teague and Horford, so it’s possible Atlanta leans on Korver a little more for his perimeter shooting. The problem with Korver is he doesn’t bring all that much to the table aside from his elite 3-pt efficiency. He is an above average defender and actually gets a good amount of blocks for a shooting guard, but he doesn’t fill the stat sheet. If his price gets cheap enough he can certainly meet or exceed value, but I wouldn’t use him for anything but a GPP punt play.
Kent Bazemore signed a 4 year extension and will return as the team’s starting small forward. He was very hot pre all-star break, but really fell off down the stretch. Atlanta is expecting big things from Bazemore with his new 4 year $70 million deal. He can do a little bit of everything and should see a bump in usage with Jeff Teague gone.
After the starting five the fantasy options for Atlanta are pretty bleak. Guys like Taurean Price, Tiago Splitter, Kris Humphries and Thabo Sefolosha are not sexy names, nor will they provide much fantasy value. The only scenarios I’d target a Hawk bench player is if a starter gets injured, or if someone emerges as the premiere go to guy off the bench and sees steady minutes/usage.
Mike works in pharmaceuticals and is a diehard fan of all Boston based sports teams. He’s been playing DFS for a little over a year and enjoys all sports, but his favorite is NBA. He is mainly a cash game player, but likes to throw his hat in some GPPs as well. In his first year he grew a $50 deposit into a few thousand dollars. He dreams of grinding away and growing his bankroll so one day he can quit his job and do DFS full time.