2016-2017 Season Review: 43-39,
2nd in Southeast Division, 5th in Eastern Conference
Lost in Conf. Quarter Finals to the Washington Wizards (2-4)
Marco Belinelli (Trade – Charlotte Hornets)
John Collins (Drafted 1st Round, 19th Overall)
Dewayne Dedmon (Free Agent – San Antonio Spurs)
Miles Plumlee (Trade – Charlotte Hornets)
Luke Babbitt (Free Agent – Miami Heat)
Paul Millsap (Free Agent – Denver Nuggets)
Dwight Howard (Free Agent – Charlotte Hornets)
Tim Hardaway Jr. (Free Agent – New York Knicks)
Thabo Sefolosha (Free Agent – Utah Jazz)
Jose Calderon (Free Agent – Cleveland Cavaliers)
The Atlanta Hawks is another team that has been completely gutted and in full blown rebuild mode. This seems to be a pretty common theme in the Eastern Conference which will be extremely weak in comparison to the West. The Hawks will probably be competing for the the worst team in the league this year with the Bulls, Knicks, Nets, Kings and Suns. As always, with every bad team there is a lot of fantasy value and the Hawks are no exception.
Dennis Shrӧder is easily the most recognizable name on the roster and the only name you really need to know when it comes to the Hawks. I think he will get Russell Westbrook type usage. Not necessarily Westbrook type output, but he will be taking a ton of shots. I would be shocked if his usage was under 30% for the season. The only concern I have for the Schrӧder is the blow out factor. The Hawks are not going to be good and will probably not be in most games. If they get blown out often Shrӧder will sit the fourth quarter and that will kill his fantasy value.
Taurean Prince will fly under the radar, at least early on. He is going to get a lot of minutes and should be locked into the starting Small Forward role. During the last month of last season Prince’s minutes increased to 28.6 per game and he saw a lot of floor time in the playoffs. He will probably see minutes in the high 20s to low 30s this year and will accumulate a lot fantasy points with his defense. I can see him having a breakout year especially if he can improve his shot.
By default, Kent Bazemore will round out Atlanta’s back court and take a lot more shots this year. He will never be able to live up to his horrendously overpaid contract, but with not many other options on the Hawks, he could turn into a nice fantasy option. I don’t think Bazemore is anything special, but he will benefit from the increase in opportunity alone and that’s all that really matters for fantasy purposes.
Marco Belinelli looks to be the backup SG and I’m genuinely interested to see how he will do with the Hawks. I’ve always liked Belinelli’s game, but he’s never seen much floor time. Belinelli will probably fit into the 2-3 rotation as a poor man’s Kyle Korver. He’s really the only true shooting specialist the Hawks have and I think for that reason alone he will see a lot of floor time. The Hawks don’t have many guys who can space the floor so look for them to lean on Belinelli for 3-point production.
Ersan Ilyasova will start at Power Forward and be a serviceable player who can space the floor and grab some rebounds. His upside will be limited being the 4th scoring option, but occasionally he can get hot and knock down threes. His fantasy output is fairly consistent, but it’s nothing special so I’ll probably take a pass on him most nights unless his price is right.
Dewayne Dedmon is another interesting guy whose game I like, but hasn’t got a lot of opportunity. When he started for San Antonio he did well and was a big upgrade defensively over Pau Gasol. Although he is the projected starter for the Hawks, I don’t see him playing typical starter’s minutes. I can see him getting minutes somewhere in the mid-20s, but that will be more than enough time for Dedmon to hit or exceed value. He won’t score many points, but he is a high field goal percentage guy who can also hit free throws at a high rate for a Center. If he does score he is almost sure to have a double-double as the rebounds will be there. Even on nights where he doesn’t score his rebounds, blocks and steals will get him close to hitting value. One knock on Dedmon is his foul trouble. His per 36 numbers have him fouling out nearly every night, but if he can stay on the court he’ll be a sneaky, low-owned option at Center.
The Hawks 1st round draft pick, John Collins, is a hardworking, physical 20 yr old kid from Wake Forest who can run the floor and is an excellent rebounder. In college, he excelled in the pick and roll, and was terrific in the post as well. He is not a great defender, which will probably limit his minutes, but his athleticism and quick feet hide a lot of his shortcomings. Pay attention to how Budenholzer uses him. If he sees the majority of the backup minutes behind Ilyasova he can be a valuable fantasy option. If he is splitting time with Luke Babbitt you can take a pass. My guess is he will become an excellent fantasy option later in the year when the Hawks really press down the gas on tanking.