The Hawks have a very simple puzzle to solve next season. An aging Kyle Korver (turning 35 in March) is coming off of multiple surgeries and lockdown defender Demarre Carroll signed a 4 year, 60 million dollar deal with the Raptors. So who gets the minutes at the wing positions?
We know that Teague, Millsap and Horford are guaranteed starters for the team, but the shooting guard and small forward positions are up for grabs. Kent Bazemore, Thabo Sefolosha and maybe Tim Hardaway Jr. will likely take up the majority of the minutes mainly at the 3, assuming Kyle Korver produces at the 2. However, the Hawks need a backup plan which must include the backup players. The obvious reason for having a backup plan is because Kyle Korver may not be the same player that he was the last few seasons; but, even if he does produce, Atlanta may still want to consider benching Korver and giving playing time to younger and more flexible wings.
Last year, Kyle Korver made a NBA-leading 49.2% of his 3 pointers. He spaced the floor for the rest of the starters to attack, and punished defenders when he was left open. To his credit, he is an underrated defender. However, he is still a slightly subpar perimeter defender and isn’t the athlete he once was. Kent Bazemore is an athletic freak of nature. Even though he can be immature at times and gamble at the defensive end, he is an athletic freak with potential to be a star. Thabo Sefolosha is one of the best on-ball defenders the league has to offer. He is a veteran that specialized in shutting down the league’s best offensive stars, and was named to the All-Defense second team in 2010. Bazemore and Sefolosha will never have the shooting touch that Kyle Korver has, but nonetheless they are still knockdown shooters who shoot 35% from 3’s each. It may be in the better interest of the team to start Kent Bazemore and Thabo Sefolosha at the 2 and 3.
Check out one of Sefolosha’s clutch defense-to-offense plays below.
Now, assuming Bazemore and Sefolosha get the starting jobs, what happens to the remaining wings? Kyle Korver will still receive playing time because he is still a treasured 3 point shooter and cheap luxury for the Hawks. He will likely be the 8th or 9th man, almost identical to the role he played on the Chicago Bulls. Tim Hardaway Jr. and Dennis Schroder will receive the most playing time off the bench, followed by Tiago Splitter, and then Kyle Korver. Mike Scott, Justin Holliday, Walter Tavares, Mike Muscala, Shelvin Mack, Terran Petteway, and Lamar Patterson will all battle for the final few rotational spots.
The Atlanta Hawks’ future is bright. If you’re a Hawks fan, you should be exited. Changes are being made. Some are sad, but the reward will be oh so sweet.