The Atlanta Hawks will be Luke Babbitt’s fourth professional team since he was drafted 16th overall in the 2010 NBA Draft. Babbitt arrives in Atlanta after signing a one-year deal for the veteran’s minimum. But it was Babbitt’s season in Miami last year that really helped him set the tone for his new start in Atlanta and possibly for the future beyond next season.
With the Heat last season, Babbitt was thrown into the fire when the Heat’s crippling injuries meant that Heat coach Erik Spolestra had to insert Babbitt into the starting lineup. Babbitt stared 55 games in the 2016-17 season, 36 more games than his previous career-high of 19 games with the New Orleans Pelicans in 2014-15.
It’s unlikely — unless the Hawks suffer similar injuries than the Heat did — that Babbitt will be expected to do the same with the Hawks. Babbitt will be brought off the bench and he’ll more than likely play a lot more power forward, especially in lineups where the Hawks might want to surround Dennis Schröder with shooters.
This isn’t, of course, ruling out the fact that Babbitt will — at some point — play small forward, he will, but he found a real role at power forward last season and I expect that to be the case again this season. In fact, I expect he will continue the good work he began last year at that position.
We all know what Babbitt is going to bring this season (and, if you don’t, this breakdown would be helpful) — high percentage shooting from the three-point line. He’s a 40% three-point shooter for his career in his seven seasons in the league, it’s no secret what he has been brought in to do. He brings something the Hawks have needed for a few years now but especially what they needed since Kyle Korver was traded.
Babbitt is arguably the best shooter on the team, depending what kind of spicy sauce Marco Belinelli is bringing each night. His shooting and versatility between the two forward spots allows coach Mike Budenholzer to experiment with lineups and give the Hawks a little more lineup diversity, something they were missing at times last season.
Babbitt has a valuable role to play off the bench this season, regardless what the Hawks, as a team, achieve on the court this season. He is also in a contract year and, I’m sure, wants to prove to other teams that he — for someone who can shoot the ball as well as he can in a three-point happy league — is worth more than a minimum contract.
It’s a big season for Luke Babbitt, let’s see how he handles it.