It's the middle of the NBA offseason, and we are all itching for some basketball. Many trades have been made, so here's a look at things you should watch for next season with some new faces, and some old ones as well.
The Thabo Sefolosha experiment in Atlanta was a success in the 2014-15 campaign, until he suffered a broken leg in early April during an arrest at a nightclub in New York with then-teammate Pero Antic. In the 53 games the Hawks played with Sefolosha, their record was 43-9. Sefolosha has never been a guy to give you a ton of minutes in any given game, but he has given you great effort on the defensive end, and had one of his better defensive seasons last year with the Hawks.
Although he did not set career numbers, advanced stats will tell you that he was the most efficient rebounder that he has ever been in his career last season, with a total rebound percentage of over 13. His steal percentage was also the highest it has been in his career. He won't see many minutes early on, if any, as he will not likely be ready until the middle of training camp, but the role Sefolosha plays on the Hawks is a crucial one. His defense created plenty of easy buckets for his teammates, ones that they were not able to get in his absence.
How well can Bazemore help fill the void for Sefolosha in his absence? Not to mention here, the loss of DeMarre Carroll. Would you prefer the Hawks still had DeMarre? Absolutely. But he wasn't a talent that was going to be a game changer to the point where you had to pay him that much money to keep him. He is 29, and Mike Budenholzer got everything he could out of him. With all of that said, the combination of Bazemore and Sefolosha later on in the season can help fill the void that Carroll once fulfilled. The scoring duties won't be outrageous, and other Hawks (Teague, Horford, Millsap) will be able to take that load on.
Yet still, Bazemore improved as the season progressed. In the last 20 games of the season, Bazemore averaged 7 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 1.5 assists compared to the first 20 games, where he averaged 1.8 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 0.5 assists. The Hawks are not a team that relies on one player, the Hawks are a well-oiled machine, and everyone is a piece. Bazemore can do that, and has yet to reach his ceiling. Expect more from him next season.
The acquisition of Splitter immediately seemed like a great idea when it happened, and it was. We all know Budenholzer spent years in San Antonio under Gregg Popovich, and to take one of his pieces that is still viable, is a good option. As long as Splitter can provide solid rebounding numbers off the bench, he's doing his job and that's all is needed of him.
Not to mention, he is a huge upgrade from Pero Antic, and the Hawks got him for virtually nothing. There are plenty of other scoring options on the floor, as long as he gives those guys second chances, the Hawks are in good shape.
Moose got better as the year progressed last season, and we saw great minutes out of him in the postseason. He was clearly the leader of the Las Vegas Summer League squad, while many questioned if he even needed to be out there in the first place.
It'll be interesting to see how much time he will get now with the addition of Splitter, but if Muscala continues to improve and give solid production while he is on the floor, the Hawks won't have to hesitate going to the bench in certain situations, which most teams could only hope for. He, along with other guys on this list will be interesting to watch strictly based on how much they improve.
Tim Hardaway Jr.
One of the more unpopular acquisitions (when it happened) was that of Tim Hardaway Jr., who the Hawks traded for on draft night. Production from Hardaway Jr. will be needed, and it will be interesting to see how he develops coming into his third season in the league. The Hawks passed up on some great talent in the draft by trading for Hardaway Jr., and it would be a shame if it was all for nothing.
Sure, not all trades work out in your favor, but this past draft class was deep with talent, and when you are a team that finished the season with an Eastern Conference Finals appearance, you often don't get a pick as high as the Hawks did. Either way, Hardaway Jr. has improved from his first to his second season, despite being on two horrific Knicks teams. A change of scenery, and being surrounded by better players could turn out great for Hardaway Jr.
Honorable mention: Justin Holiday
Holiday will be in his 4th year in the league, after spending his rookie season with the Sixers, his second year in the D-League, and last season with the Warriors. In the garbage time he has had in the league, he has shown some promise. He also was good in his time in the D-League, averaging over 17 points, five rebounds, and two assists. Holiday has never seen a bunch of time in his career, but if for whatever reason he has to step into an important role, don't be surprised by any success he may have.