The 2016 version of the Atlanta Hawks will look quite different from the version we have seen for the last three seasons. Today our roundtable of writers focuses on what is the biggest question mark with the team heading into next season. If you missed any of our previous roundtable sessions you can find them all in this StoryStream.
What is the Hawks' biggest question mark going into the season?
(Kris Willis): They have several but I will settle on the offense as the biggest one. While much has been made about Atlanta’s rebounding struggles, the biggest reason they fell from 60 wins to 48 was their offensive production. The Hawks were sixth in offensive rating in 2015 and fell all the way to 18th last season. To further illustrate that, Atlanta was second in three-point percentage in 2015 and sunk to 15th last season. The losses of Al Horford and Jeff Teague don’t help in those departments.
This Hawks team may rely less on the three point shot but spacing will still be crucial with the addition of Dwight Howard. Atlanta needs a good year from Kyle Korver and needs guys like Dennis Schröder and Tim Hardaway Jr. to take a step forward in the shooting department to keep opposing defenses honest and from packing the paint which is what led to a lot of their struggles to score last season.
(Brad Rowland): Spacing. At this moment, the Hawks have exactly one shooter that we KNOW is solidly above-average, and that is Kyle Korver. There are guys that I am fairly confident in, ranging from Paul Millsap to Kent Bazemore, but if things go poorly, space will be at a premium. That is doubly true given the fact that Dwight Howard isn’t exactly Al Horford from a range perspective, and there are still concerns about Dennis Schröder’s shooting from long distance. It would be fair to point to a number of things, including health/productivity from Howard, in this space, but I am concerned about the shooting, especially if Korver mirrors his production from 2015-2016 instead of 2014-2015.
(Harry Lyles): The offense. That includes Dwight Howard, Dennis Schroder, and Kyle Korver. Howard, because we don’t know how he’s going to affect how the offense is run. Schroder, because we don’t know how he’s going to fit in his new role. Korver, because he’s getting up there in age, and it’s fair to wonder how much he’s got left in him. That’s not to say he’s not going to be effective, but father time is undefeated.
(Chris Herbert): The answer has to be Dwight Howard. The biggest question mark concerning Dwight, and the Hawks, is if Dwight will give up his post game aspirations on offense in exchange for being a dominant roll man with Schröder? If Dwight can swap post touches for pick and roll touches, then I think the Hawks’ offense has a chance to be above average. Opening up to the media this offseason about his past struggles is encouraging in terms of rehabilitating his image of being a poor teammate. But, until he shows he can consistently be content as a third offensive option (behind Millsap and Dennis), then question marks will surround his presence in Atlanta.
(Thomas Jenkins): This is an interesting question, and I think that you could make an argument for either Kyle Korver, Dwight Howard, or Dennis Schroder being the biggest uncertainty for the Hawks. Korver and Howard are both starting to get old, and Schroder’s young age makes him somewhat unpredictable as well. Howard is probably the biggest question mark though, especially since he’s never played in Coach Budenholzer’s system before. Schroder and Korver have both had consistent success in Atlanta, while Howard hasn’t. If I had to pick a runner-up to Howard though, I’d go with Schroder rather than Korver. Either way, there are multiple question marks on this roster right now.
(Preston Mott): For me it's shooting. When the Hawks essentially swapped Teague/Horford for Schröder/Howard, they sacrificed a lot in shooting. As the roster stands, do they have enough shooters? It certainly doesn't seem like it. It would help if Korver could go back to sniping away 3's like he was during the Hawks 60 win campaign. However, that's a lot to ask for, and not something the Hawks should have to rely on.