The start of the NBA season brings a fresh batch of Power Rankings. The Atlanta Hawks had an interesting offseason and it seems that not a lot of pundits really know what to expect.
NBA.com’s John Schuhmann kicks things off and slots the Hawks at No. 8 in his Week 1 rankings.
The Hawks picked up where they left off, ranking No. 1 on defense in the preseason. That end of the floor will keep them in the top five in the East even if Dwight Howard doesn't fit in the offense and Kyle Korver shoots more like he did last season than he did the year before. And there's some promise in that Howard averaged 21.6 points per 36 minutes and Korver made 11 of his 22 threes. They play their first six games against teams that finished at or below .500 and ranked no higher than 14th defensively last season.
ESPN.com’s Marc Stein is a bit more cautious placing the Hawks at No. 13.
The future of Paul Millsap, who possesses the right to return to free agency come July, as well as the uncertain health of Tiago Splitter (hamstring) give the Hawks two more significant question marks to go with all the external skepticism about Dennis Schroder replacing Jeff Teague as Atlanta's first-choice point guard and Dwight Howard succeeding Al Horford as its primary big man. This is one of the league's most interesting teams (to us) because of all of the above.
CBS Sports’ Matt Moore places Atlanta in the middle of the pack at No. 15.
I cover the league in as much detail as I can, pouring over video and stats and profiles. I have no idea who their backup point guards are, and Dwight Howard still looks like post-2011 Dwight Howard. They are balancing on a plank, trying to stay upright headed into the season.
Finally, Kurt Helin of Pro Basketball Talk slots the Hawks in just outside the Top 10 at No. 11.
Atlanta had the best defense in the NBA during the preseason, a promising sign for Hawks fans. The trademark ball movement that has defined Mike Budenholzer teams also was there, even with the addition of Dwight Howard and now Dennis Schroder running the point. If those two things can carry over to the regular season it’s a good sign. The Hawks have the softest schedule in the Eastern Conference the first month of the season, which gives them time to find their groove and rack up wins.