Team Name: Atlanta Hawks
Last Year's Record: Was Awesome (60-22)
Key Losses: DeMarre Carroll, Pero Antic
Key Additions: Tiago Splitter, Tim Hardaway, Jr., Justin Holiday
1. What Significant Moves were made during the off-season?
(Jason Walker) Well, there was the sale of the team, the official goodbye to Danny Ferry, losing Carroll to free agency, keeping Paul Millsap in free agency, trading cap space to get a legit center in Splitter, punting the draft to take a chance on Hardaway and, of course, the Jason Richardson era -- beginning and end.
(Kris Willis) Teams coming off of 60 wins don't normally make as many off the court changes as the Hawks have this summer. New ownership, rebuilt front office to go along with new expectations. On the court, DeMarre Carroll followed the money to Toronto, but the Hawks filled a big need with the acquisition of Tiago Splitter. The Hawks will turn to a group of players to help replace Carroll including Tim Hardaway Jr. who hopes to be the team's latest reclamation project.
2. What are the team's biggest strengths?
(JW) Teamwork, the Core Four (Horford, Millsap, Teague and Korver), Budenholzer, moving the ball, making shots.
(KW) Mike Budenholzer. The Hawks have a wonderful system in place and continuity with the return of four All-Stars. Al Horford and Paul Millsap continue to be one of the league's best frontcourt tandems that are hardly ever talked about. Atlanta's biggest strength is that they don't rely on one single player.
3. What are the team's biggest weaknesses?
(JW) Defensive rebounding, which hopefully Splitter will help the Hawks do, depth at the wing is uncertain with Thabo's injury, the loss of Carroll, the unknowns of Hardaway and Holiday and not having LeBron James.
(KW) Lack of rebounding was a huge problem for last year's team. The addition of Splitter should help, but Atlanta will be hard pressed to replace Carroll as the team's primary wing defender at least until Thabo Sefolosha is fully healthy.
4. What are the goals for this team?
(JW) To build on last year rather than climb down from it.
(KW) To prove the doubters wrong yet again.
5. How does Dennis Schröder fit into the team's plans this season?
(JW) Dennis is coming on strong and may if the Hawks are not building on the success of 2014-15, make Jeff Teague an attractive trade target come February.
(KW) Schröder was one of the big surprises of last season. He had a good summer while playing with the German National team and should once again be a big part of Atlanta's rotation. Budenholzer loves the dual point guard lineup and we should again see a heavy dose of it. Jeff Teague is still entrenched as the team's starter, but if Schröder can take another step forward, Teague could become an interesting asset to be dangled in the trade market.
6. Does Al Horford have another level he can go to raise the Hawks higher?
(JW) I don't think we're going to wake up this season and find Horford has morphed into Karl Malone or Tim Duncan, but I think he does have some upside in getting more aggressive offensively -- the Hawks could definitely use that as extra offensive firepower when the ball movement isn't finding an open shooter.
(KW) Al Horford does so many good things for the Atlanta Hawks that simply don't show up in the boxscore. He is the closest thing to an elite player that Atlanta has on its roster. Still there are several reasons to think that we may see a career year from Horford. First, he is entering the final year of his contract and will be in line for a huge payday next summer. He took the summer off from international competition to fully train focus on the upcoming season. He is also over a year removed from the pectoral injury that cut his 2014 season short. 2016 will be his third under Mike Budenholzer and he and his teammates should have a firm grasp of the offensive system. A comfortable Al Horford could be a really good Al Horford.