If you missed Part 1 of our round table discussion you can rectify that by clicking here. This time around we look at the biggest question marks for the Hawks going forward and offer our takes on where they currently stand in the Eastern Conference.
What is the Hawks' biggest question mark going into the season?
(Kris Willis) Easily the biggest question mark going into the season is what role Tim Hardaway Jr will play and how well will he perform. The Hawks seem to think that they can fix any player and it seems a little bit foolish to condemn Hardaway as a player given the dumpster fire that the 2015 New York Knicks were. The Hawks front office had their eye on Hardaway for some time and he could end up being the biggest challenge for a player development system that has produced nothing but positive results so far. Still, paid a heavy price by trading away its 2015 first round pick for Hardaway and that is a move that will no doubt be debated throughout the season.
(Josh Lane) Who is going to be the wing defensive stopper? We know that Sefolosha can defend but I am going to assume that it will take him some time to recover due to the injury. We have to hope that player development can help guys like Holliday, Bazemore and yes even Hardaway improve on the defensive end.
(Patrick Laney) Who can defend opposing small forwards? Atlanta will need to maximize their developmental talent to find competence off the bench. There is no predictable talent on the current roster to provide plus defense beyond Thabo.
(Phil Naessens) For me it's going to be consistency at PG. Teague started out 2014-2015 like a house on fire and by season's end had cooled down considerably. On the other hand Dennis Schroeder started off 2014-2015 slow but ramped it up by season's end. Both are fine point guards but I think for the Hawks to go beyond what they accomplished in 2014-2015 one of these two needs to become the floor general and take charge down the stretch and especially in close ballgames.
(Brad Rowland) For as much as I am okay with the wing options, the biggest question remains how the minutes will shake out. Korver and Sefolosha are utter locks for significant playing time provided they are healthy, but the Hawks must piece together 80-90 minutes per game (with the others going to the Teague/Schroder lineup or, potentially, Millsap at the 3) from the quintet of Korver, Sefolosha, Bazemore, Holiday and Hardaway. Budenholzer is a wizard of the highest degree, but it's going to be interesting.
Its early, but how do you think the Hawks will stack up in the East in 2016?
(Kris Willis) I think the way that the 2015 season ended has made a lot of people forget about the Hawks. This is still a very good basketball team with a very good coach and very good players. This team will be different this season and given some of the health issues they are dealing with, may sacrifice some regular season wins to be better in the playoffs. The acquisition of Splitter could pay huge dividends defensively up front, but again good health and timing are likely the most important factors. I'd be surprised if this Hawks team isn't a Top 4 team in the Eastern Conference.
(Josh Lane) If the Hawks had a fully healthy roster then I think that they are one of the best teams in the east along with Cleveland. However, I think the Hawks will struggle at the beginning of the season due to recovering injuries and the new guys trying to find their fit on the team.
(Patrick Laney) Fourth or fifth. The East is going to be deeper and Atlanta may struggle early to build chemistry for the bench. I see 50+ wins and a 4 seed.
(Phil Naessens) That's a tough one. Miami probably got better this summer as did Indiana. The Cavs remained mostly the same so they should be the favorites in the East. Charlotte made some very good moves this summer as did Boston. The Bulls will be the Bulls and the Bucks and Wizards should also be quite good. The East isn't the least any longer.
How do the Hawks stack up? I don't see 60 wins and an undefeated January but I didn't see that coming last season either. I would say a top four seed in the East is definitely not out of the question nor would the Hawks reaching another Eastern Conference Final be out of the realm of possibility either.
(Brad Rowland) Somewhere in the 2-5 range. I realize that is vague, but until we have more information on the return of Korver and Sefolosha from injury, that's all I can give you. If I was told that both wings were "full-go" from day one, I would pick the Hawks to finish either 2nd or 3rd (with Washington) in the East. If there is a delay, though, the early portion of the season could be taxing enough to slip behind the likes of Chicago or Miami/Toronto. It is important to keep perspective after a 60-win season, and that will be the task this season, even if everything goes right.