Last Year's Record: 38-44
Key Losses: Lou Williams
Key Additions: Thabo Sefolosha, Kent Bazemore, Adreian Payne
What significant moves were made during the offseason?
The Hawks famously tried to get Luol Deng and Pau Gasol to join the ATL, but both went to bigger winners. The Hawks settled for improving where they needed it most, on the defensive wings, by bringing in Sefolosha and Bazemore and then drafted the best shooting big available that plays above the rim (small list!) by getting Payne.
Sefalosha's signing reminds of when the Spurs brought Bruce Bowen in at the same age and crossroads of his career. The Hawks can only hope that Thabo, like Bowen, rediscovers himself and provides the type of top flight work on defense while still being able to be efficient from three-point range.
Bazemore brings a unique personality, work ethic and wingspan to the team in an effort to improve the team's bench defense at the wing, where well-loved but now departed Lou Williams once got minutes.
Payne has the potential to be a All-NBA rookie selection in that he should get minutes and production given the Hawks need an above the rim big man who rebounds, finishes and can hit the outside shot. With Payne and second year man, Mike Muscala, the Hawks have the youth behind Al Horford, Paul Millsap, Pero Antic and Elton Brand to give quality, tactical minutes.
What are the team's biggest strengths?
Shooting, shooting, shooting. This team will move the ball well and take them some high profit shots. With Kyle Korver reinventing the role of shooting specialist with the Hawks, the team has taken off in terms of attempts, makes and offensive efficiency from long range, which only looks to continue with the acquisitions above.
Another strength is the veteran savvy and team concepts the Hawks used to bulldog their way into the playoffs last year and almost knock off the Pacers despite a ruthless amount of games missed due to injury. They are selfless on the court and really enjoy and trust each other. Even the defensive breakdowns that happened on pick and rolls last year seemed have polite ramifications, not resulting in frustrated outbursts, in terms of teammates trying to solve their on-court issues.
What are the team's biggest weaknesses?
Well the team sure wasn't awesome defending last year, even with the valiant efforts afforded. The pick and roll was tough on them, which is why adding some health and depth along the frontline will help the cause as does the wing acquisitions of Sefolosha and Bazemore.
Also, the team was far too reliant on their core starters. When Horford went out, the team tried their best not to give the ground gained as Horford led them into the 3-spot in the East. But when Korver got hurt, or when DeMarre Carroll, or Paul Millsap added missed time, the team went into a games lost spiral.
What are the goals for this team?
The Hawks want to continue to build on the culture and on-the-court personality change that has been underway under Danny Ferry and Mike Budenholzer. They are hard nosed, great shooting, share the ball types that are a tough matchup for any team, any night.
It's the kind of team that's built for the postseason, as the Pacers found out. The Hawks surely want to pick up where they left off last season, playing an elimination game in front of a hysterically loud Atlanta crowd, and unleashing the power of the Pac-Man to advance.
How will the offseason drama affect the team on the court?
This is a big question. Where will Danny Ferry be in the 2014-15 season? His leave of absence and the For Sale sign in the windows of Philips Arena undoubtedly will cause some uncertainty that you would believe will needs to be addressed before the next offseason.
However that resolves, the on the court Hawks are mentally prepared for the season and are surprisingly upbeat, due in part to the expected return of Horford, another year under Mike Budenholzer and the character of the players that have joined the team. One of their strengths listed above is their mental toughness and hard work, and that's what will carry them past the drama of this past offseason and the lingering ownership/front office issues that still remain.