The 2017-2018 NBA season is rapidly approaching, even if it feels far away at this juncture. The Atlanta Hawks may not be a title contender but that doesn’t mean there isn’t any intrigue surrounding the team and, before training camp gets underway, our Peachtree Hoops staff came together to address ten topics about the squad.
The end is (finally) here and, if you missed any of the previous nine topics, we encourage you to go back and check them out. In the finale, we put together projected records with the significant caveat that, well, it is late August and a lot can change.
Brad Rowland: 26-56. 14th in the East. I know that seems brutal (and the Bulls would be my No. 15 squad in the conference) but it prices in an assumption that the Hawks will at least look to move away from some veterans at the trade deadline. From a roster perspective, this team is probably worse than 26 wins but, with Mike Budenholzer’s system and the way I think they’ll defend, it is reasonable to think they could get to 30 wins. It’s really tough to see past how bad the offense will likely be, though, and that brings something of a cap on their potential success.
Graham Chapple: Yikes… Unlike many, I’ll give this Hawks team credit in that I believe they could be better than people think. I’ll say 31-51 and 13th in the conference. I think the team will have to buy into Bud’s system (which I think will help them perhaps squeeze a few more wins) and they are in the Eastern Conference after all -- there are teams who are arguably as bad as the Hawks (Orlando, Indiana and Chicago when Wade is eventually bought out). It’s possible that they Hawks just completely fall off after the trade deadline. Playoff teams might come for the likes of Marco Belinelli, Luke Babbitt or Ersan Ilyasova -- or those players might agree a buyout after the deadline. Either way, the Hawks will probably come off worse after the deadline.
Greg Willis: As much as I am looking forward to this team play this season, I don’t think we will see lot of wins. The loss of Paul Millsap will be devastating on the scoreboard and in the standings. Last season, the Hawks were brutal (3-9) when Millsap didn’t play and that was with Tim Hardaway Jr., Dwight Howard, Thabo Sefalosha and even Kyle Korver for two of those losses. I’ll say 28-54 and 13th in the East.
Glen Willis: This is an absolutely impossible task. It depends on what they have accomplished by mid-January or so and decide to chase the best season they can have or decide to sell off the competent veteran players on short term contracts and chase a high lottery pick. I honestly think they will start the season being completely open to both of those options. And it could be impacted also by how the 2018 draft class shapes up by mid-January as well. But if I have to put a projection out there right say that the mathematically most likely outcome will be a record of 33-49. They are better than Chicago, Brooklyn, New York and Orlando, so if that holds true over the season that would land them 11th in the conference. But if this team decides to chase the best record they can achieve they will threaten the 40-win mark.
Jeff Siegel: Even if Budenholzer is getting positives out of the team, I think Schlenk will step in and strategically sit certain guys down in the second half of the year, especially surrounding the All-Star Break, when the Hawks schedule gets somewhat easier. I’d be very surprised to see this team crack 30 wins, even in a weaker Eastern Conference, and they’ll have full incentive to tank the end of the year to secure a higher draft pick in a loaded 2018 draft. Anywhere between 25 and 28 wins should give them enough reverse firepower to jet up the draft lottery into one of those coveted top three spots.
RedRev: 32 wins while staying in range for an 8-seed most of the season. Bud is good enough to grab 4-5 wins that other young teams will give away. Hawks will have a top-10 pick for first time in over a decade but miss out on ping-pong balls. Dream about the top of the draft board but the Hawks are more likely to land another solid multi-year college player like Michigan State’s Miles Bridges.