Each year, the NBA’s 30 general managers conspire on a survey that answers several “burning” questions about the upcoming season. The 2016-2017 edition was released on Tuesday and several members of the Atlanta Hawks received consideration for various honors. Let’s break it down.
Two of the league’s 30 general mangers anointed Howard as the “best interior defender” in the NBA. This is, at least in my view, an homage to the past, as Howard was once the most dominant rim protector and overall defensive force in the NBA, but with age and other concerns, he has taken a step back in recent years. There is reason to be optimistic after the change of scenery and partnership with Mike Budenholzer, but Howard receiving 6.7% of the vote here (DeAndre Jordan, Rudy Gobert and Draymond Green finished ahead of him) is... interesting.
One of the categories that is always intriguing is the “player most likely to have a breakout season”, and while Schröder did not crack the top five, Atlanta’s young point guard did receive a vote. ESPN’s Kevin Pelton has opined that Schröder is a legitimate candidate for the NBA’s Most Improved Player award based largely on the usage and volume that he will take on this season, but if the cards fall right, this isn’t at all crazy. The numbers will be there, and if Schröder can maintain reasonable efficiency, the “breakout” could arrive in full.
Korver was the lone member of the roster that was recognized in multiple categories. The veteran swingman landed third in the NBA, behind Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, in the “best pure shooter” category with three votes and Korver also finished second (behind Thompson) with 30% of the vote as the NBA’s player at moving without the ball. Even with the caveat that 2015-2016 was a “down” year for Korver, this is line with conventional wisdom, as his shooting stroke is virtually unmatched and Korver is a tireless worker off the ball to create space and separation from the defense.
Nothing to see here.
While Atlanta’s head honcho did not receive attention in the “best head coach” or “best manager” categories (dominated by Gregg Popovich), Budenholzer did get at least one nod when it comes to making in-game adjustments. He is a tremendous architect when it comes to after-timeout plays, and Budenholzer’s defensive work in recent seasons has been tremendous, peaking with the No. 2 defensive rating in the NBA a year ago. There is no question that Budenholzer is a top-10 coach.
Where are the Hawks as a team?
Well, the GM’s were pretty kind to Atlanta. The Hawks are projected to take a step back in their collective minds, but Atlanta finished sixth in the Eastern Conference. The vote included at least one nod for the Hawks at No. 3 overall in the conference, with the highest number of votes pegging the team between fourth and sixth overall.
At the top, the Cleveland Cavaliers, Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics are firmly entrenched, but the Hawks trail the Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons in that order, with Southeast Division rivals Charlotte and Washington rounding out the playoff order.
What do you think of how the NBA’s general managers described the Hawks in this space? Tell us in the comments and feel free to (respectfully) vent.