There are numerous questions surrounding the Atlanta Hawks after getting swept for the second year in a row by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Should the Hawks hit the reset button or add key pieces? Let us dive in-depth for the off-season.
Many Hawks fans want to let Al Horford walk if he demands a max deal this off-season. Horford is not getting any younger, but Horford did have a nice defensive year alongside Paul Millsap. There is no doubt Al still has gas left in the tank and has value, but is that value worthy of a max contract? In today’s NBA yes, but not for the Hawks. The Hawks are in need of key players and/or superstars. There are plenty of big name free agents this off-season, with names like Andre Drummond and Hassan Whiteside. These are the type of players the Hawks should pursue this off-season if they are going to invest in a player with max contract value. Drummond and Whiteside possess something Horford does not, which is size. Horford’s natural position is power forward, for he is undersized as a center. Drummond can grab rebounds and adds the necessary size on the glass that Horford cannot. It does not make sense for Horford to get a max deal when there are better value players out there. If Horford demands a max contract, the Hawks should let him walk. If he does not then he can sign back and have value without breaking the bank.
Point Guard Situation
Perhaps the biggest question of this upcoming off-season is who should be the starting point guard next season. Jeff Teague has shown flashes of superstar abilities in the past couple of years; however, he has been inconsistent. Dennis Schröder is younger and still has his best years ahead of him. Teague is aging but is in his prime. However, it is time for Schröder to take on the starting role, for he is a star on the rise. Teague should be moved into the sixth man role or be traded for better value this off-season. Teague has tremendous trade value and has proved himself in the playoffs. Therefore, it is time for the young German gets a shot to run the offense.
If the Hawks want to hit the reset button, then there are three key players to rebuild around: Dennis Schröder, Kent Bazemore, and Paul Millsap. This trio is playing in their prime and are the true core of this team. Schröder is a young Rajon Rondo-type who is currently finding his groove, while Kent Bazemore is a valuable defender who has found magic under head coach Mike Budenholzer. Millsap is considered an elite power forward in the league who just had a career year, and he continues to thrive with coach Bud. If the Hawks were to start rebuilding with these three players, then they could add key pieces in the draft and free agency. It will be interesting to see if the Hawks decide to go into full rebuild mode, and it would not necessarily be a bad thing considering that the Hawks cannot seem get over the playoff hump.
It is somewhat depressing to see Kyle Korver starting to slow down. The dead-eye veteran has been a lethal weapon for Atlanta for years now. Korver had a down year in 2016, but he did find his shot in the second round of the playoffs thanks to a line up change that helped him. Korver came off the bench for the first time in a while and immediately shot lights-out. Was coach Bud foreshadowing on what is to come for Korver’s future with the team? Korver hurts the team when he cannot get open shots, and it is almost like having four players out on the court when Korver is having an off night or getting shutdown. The lineup change helped Korver greatly, but we have likely seen the last days of Korver starting here in Atlanta. If Korver remains with the team next year, then coach Bud will most likely use him off the bench, as the Hawks cannot afford for him to struggle in a starting role. Only time will tell who will get Korver’s starting role next season.
We don’t know if the Hawks will rebuild this off-season or not. Regardless, here are some upcoming free agents that would be nice fits with the Hawks:
Drummond would be a nice signing for Atlanta as he would provide a big body on the glass. He could be Coach Bud’s version of the Spurs’ Tim Duncan. He is also a much better center than Horford. Drummond would be costly, but the investment may be worth it. Atlanta could have one of the scariest front courts in the NBA with the combination Millsap and Drummond. Drummond could be the type of center who could push the Hawks past the playoff hump. No more getting bullied on the glass.
Other key FA’s
Bradley Beal: Beal would be the perfect fit in Coach Bud’s system. Many would consider him an upgrade over Korver. Beal would most likely get to start immediately, for he is a deadly three-point shooter who can spread the court much better than Korver. This would be an excellent signing.
Chandler Parsons: Parsons would be another great addition to our system. He is a reliable three-point shooter with great skills and qualities for a small forward. Parsons would be great competition for Kent Bazemore if Bazemore is resigned. Parsons could be a key player for Budenholzer in a system like his.