Over the next month, Blazer's Edge will be rolling out season previews for all 30 NBA teams. Continuing this feature, we discuss the Atlanta Hawks with Peachtree Hoops co-manager Kris Willis. (Yesterday's preview: Dallas Mavericks)
Atlanta Hawks 2014-15 Season Preview
2013-14 Record: 38-44, No. 4 in Southeast Division, No. 8 in Eastern Conference
Roster additions: Kent Bazemore, Jarell Eddie (rookie, undrafted), Adreian Payne (rookie, No. 15), Thabo Sefolosha
Roster subtractions: Gustavo Ayon, Cartier Martin, Louis Williams
SB Nation affiliate: Peachtree Hoops
Blazer's Edge: Al Horford was on track last season to have a career-year in points per game and scoring efficiency before he went down with an injury and missed the last two-thirds of 2013-14. Paul Millsap then went on to average almost 18 points a night, also adding better passing and an outside shot to his game. How will these two co-exist in the front court when both are healthy?
Kris Willis: We had a really small sample size with Horford and Millsap both healthy but I don't have any real concerns about them being able to play together. They seemed to be hitting their stride as a tandem just as Horford went down with his injury. Both are versatile players in that they can play in the post or on the perimeter. Sharing the ball is a mandate in Mike Budenholzer's system and getting Horford back will just make the Hawks that much better.
BE: Kyle Korver's 120+ game streak of hitting at least one three-pointer per contest was broken by the Trail Blazers last year. As he turns 34 in a few weeks, Korver's pretty much a catch-and-shoot guy from outside now, right?
KW: Offensively that has probably been the case for sometime because he hasn't really been the type of player that will put the ball on the floor and attack the basket. Korver's presence alone adds space to the Atlanta's offense as teams are forced to account for him on every possession. He is a highly intelligent player who plays the game the right way and never stops moving on the offensive end.
BE: On paper, Jeff Teague is one of the better young point guards in the league. Why does he get so little hype on a national scale? Do you think he deserves to be mentioned in conversations about the NBA's best point guards?
KW: I like Teague a lot but I think the Hawks as a whole don't generate much hype nationally. Teague showed a lot of growth last season and could take yet another step forward this season with Horford back. I still feel like the Hawks have to crash through in the playoffs if they want to generate any buzz outside of Atlanta.
BE: By all accounts, Thabo Sefolosha had a pretty bad 2013-14 in Oklahoma City. Do you expect him to turn things around this year in Atlanta? What's his role in coach Mike Budenholzer's rotation?
KW: We are all anxious to see what Budenholzer's rotation looks like once we get closer to the regular season. Sefolosha appears to be fully recovered from the calf injury that derailed him last season. He looked like he was moving well in the first preseason game so that is a plus. Atlanta went into the summer needing to get bigger and more defensive minded on the wing. I figure Sefolosha to be the primary backup behind DeMarre Carroll at the small forward position but we could see both on the court at the same time in certain matchups.
BE: Let's talk backups...who's the sixth man for the Hawks this year? Do you expect any young guys to step up and contribute consistently this season?
KW: I just mentioned that we are waiting to see what the rotation will look like but I will mention two players that look like they can be contributors off the bench. First is Mike Scott who is back on a guaranteed deal for the first time in his career. He was essentially Atlanta's sixth man by the end of last season and its top scorer off the bench. As a stretch four, he fits nicely into Budenholzer's offense. Another guy we are excited about is Kent Bazemore who signed with the team this summer. The backcourt rotation may be a little crowded but I see Bazemore getting regular playing time and hopefully taking a similar leap to what Carroll did last season. Time will tell but the team appears to be deeper than it was last season.
Special thanks to Peachtree Hoops co-manager Kris Willis for taking the time to discuss the Atlanta Hawks' upcoming season with Blazer's Edge. Tim can be found on twitter @Kris_Willis. Peachtree Hoops has you covered for Hawks news and analysis.
-- Chris Lucia | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter