The offseason is over, the preseason has come and gone and a new version of the Atlanta Hawks are set to make their debut. As is customary around these parts, the days leading up to the season opener are predictions time for the Peachtree Hoops staff.
After all of this summer’s changes, is this Atlanta Hawks team better than they were last year?
Phil Naessens: No. I don’t think Dwight Howard makes up for losing Al Horford and Jeff Teague.
Kris Willis: At this point I think it is doubtful. Atlanta was already an elite defensive team last season and should be strong again. They dropped from 60 wins to 48 last season because of a sharp drop off in the shooting department. Dwight Howard brings a lot of things to the table, but shooting isn’t one of them and at the end of the day I think this team is going to be in search of offense.
Brad Rowland: I’d be surprised. While there is a scenario in which Dwight Howard can replicate Al Horford’s overall production, I think that is relatively unlikely and, even if it happens, the dip at point guard in an overall sense will matter. Mike Budenholzer is a miracle worker, but the short-term roster is worse than it was a year ago.
Glen Willis: Yes. And that is not because I think Howard is a better player than Horford, because I don’t. From what I have seen thus far I think they have improved the roster in terms of having a more diverse set of skills across the team. This will allow them to be more flexible in the types of lineup rotations (go big, go small, etc.) they will be able to leverage in different matchups.
Thomas Jenkins: No, for several reasons. Point guard is weaker now (although I love Dennis Schroder), and center is probably slightly worse as well. This is also an aging roster, and if Paul Millsap takes a sizable step back the team could be in serious trouble. However, Atlanta is still close to where they were last year, and the dropoff shouldn’t be too huge. It’s also important to note that there are several exciting young players on this team, so at least part of the team’s future is bright.
Chris Herbert: No. The Hawks had remarkable consistency with Teague and Horford. That consistency is replaced with the slightly higher ceiling but much lower floor combination of Schröder and Howard. In an ideal world, Schröder and Howard shred defenses night in and out via the pick and roll. The possibility is tempting, but the reality is that this team cannot spread the floor as well as last season and will suffer at times because of it.
Josh Lane: Roughly the same, The Hawks lost depth in the backcourt but gained depth in the front court.
Jason Walker: No. Come on. Trading your starting PG and letting your mainstay center go away is pruning the tree. Yes, it will grow back again, but it is no doubt less tall to begin.
Harry Lyles Jr.: The team is not better, but I don’t think it’s that much worse. I am in the boat that Al Horford is a better player than Dwight Howard, especially for what this team wants to do. I don’t think the difference is great enough to where the Hawks are going to be drastically worse. They are what they are.
Tyler Duke: I don’t think you can make an argument that they’re a better team at this point. At the same time, I think last year’s roster underperformed -- mainly due to some pretty bad jump shooting that never returned closer to the norm. I also believe there’s a chance that Howard meshes with Millsap nicely and makes the loss of Horford fairly unnoticeable. Due to those things, while I don’t think the roster is better, I also don’t think there’s much of a dropoff in performance.