Reason for Optimism? A Hawks’ Midseason Review

Dennis and IT face off in the 2016 Playoffs
Halfway through the 2016-17 campaign, the Hawks find themselves roughly where most people expected them to be.

The Hawks currently stand at 24-17, a 48 win pace, matching their win total from last season. Despite being on par with expectations, not many expected us to get here the way we did. Until their recent winning stretch, the Hawks had an inconsistent first half. The Hawks blitzed to a 9-2 start, including wins vs. Houston and at Cleveland. Then the Hawks hit a brick wall. They would go on to lose 10 out of their next 11 games. During their losing streak, the issues stemming from each lost were puzzling because of the multitude of concerns during the game. One night, the Hawks would struggle offensively and would follow up by allowing over 120 points to an unexpected opponent. Arguably, the worst losses of the season were 36 point loss at home to the Detroit Pistons followed by a crippling 44 point loss the very next night against the Toronto Raptors. After the two game debacle, their play improved; however, there were nights the Hawks would simply not show up. The Orlando Magic slaughtered our defense for 131 points and there were 2 losses to the Minnesota TimberWolves in a 3 game stretch. However, since their second loss against Minnesota, the Hawks have gone 10-1 with a noticeable improvement on both ends of the court.

Millsap pulls up for the jumper in New York. J.D. Garrabrant
Season Stats
THJ lays it in. Scott Cunningham

PPG: 103.0
PPG Allowed: 102.6

Rebounds: 44.0

FG%: 45.6
3PT %: 34.6

FT %: 71.9

Home Record: 11-8
Road Record: 13-9

>.500: 10-6
<.500: 14-11
Turnovers: 15.5

A few notable things from the stats: Overall, scoring has improved around the NBA this season iso 103 points places the Hawks at 19th in the NBA. Atlanta’s 3 point shooting ranks 23rd and our record against teams over .500 is 2nd in the entire league. 

Player Grades:

Dennis Schroder: B+
Dennis has done a fine job in his first year starting averaging nearly 18 Points Per Game and 6 Assists Per Game. There’s still room for improvement in the turnover and decision making departments but overall, he’s getting better as the season continues.

Kent Bazemore: D+
Kent didn’t make the jump most expected him to after receiving that sizable contract. He’s shot horribly most of the season and has regressed to taking some questionable shots at time.

Thabo Sefolosha: B
Thabo continues to do the little things on the court while continuing to guard the opponent’s best wing player on a nightly basis.

Paul Millsap: A-
Thank Goodness the team decided not to trade Paul (for now). This man continues to do everything in his power on the court while blocking out the constant trade chatter.

Hawks walk off the floor after stunning the Nuggets late. Getty Images

Dwight Howard: B+
A cancer? A ball stopper? A complainer? None of those have been true so far this season for Dwight. There hasn’t been a negative peep as he’s done everything and more the Hawks have wanted while still being top 5 in the league in rebounding.
Malcolm Delaney: C
It hasn’t always been pretty, but Malcolm has proven to be a serviceable backup.
Tim Hardaway JR: B+
One has to wish that “THJ” and the team came to an extension agreement in October. He is likely to demand a similar contract to Bazemore this summer and the Hawks will likely not be able to afford that.
Taurean Prince: C+
When given minutes, Prince has shown great hustle. He will be a very good player in the league.
Deandre Bembry: B-
Just like with Prince, Bembry does a fine job when given the opportunity.
Kris Humphries: C
Kris hasn’t been part of the regular nightly rotation but when he gets in he’s done exactly what we need him to.
Mike Muscala: B
Moose started the season strong but has since cooled off. He’s now dealing with an ankle injury and hasn’t been given a return date.
Mike Scott: F
After missing a good chunk of the season Mike hasn’t been able to crack the rotation and in very limited playing time is shooting horribly.
Mike Dunleavy JR: INC
Tiago Splitter: F

Dwight Howard at the free throw line. Scott Cunningham

The Hawks shook things up and had the NBA world a buzz when they suddenly shipped beloved Kyle Korver to the Cavaliers for Mike Dunleavy JR, Mo Williams and a 2019 1st round Draft pick. Many believed at that point the Hawks were going to “tank” and also ship off Millsap, Thabo and possibly even THJ. However, the team has remained on a hot streak and Millsap was “taken off the market”. I say that with a bit of caution however as the team could still consider moving Millsap and/or others at the deadline. If the wins keep coming at this pace however, the Hawks could even become “buyers” at the deadline. Everything could be in play so stay tuned.

Dunleavy has been big so far for the Hawks. Scott Cunningham

I’m going to go on a limb and stick with my preseason projection of 51 wins. Unfortunately, it will still only be enough to get the 4 seed with Boston and Toronto finishing tied with 52 wins. After a hard fought battle with Charlotte or Indiana in the first round, the Hawks will once again fall victim to the Cavs but this time in a competitive 5 or 6 game series.

This summer the new owners will finally be comfortable and fully entrenched in things. If the pieces fall right, expect the Hawks to swing for the fences and even go in to the Luxury Tax. These new owners want to win a championship. It is evident by the new practice facility, arena overhaul and the purchasing of a D-League team. Their dedication will finally show on the roster this summer.

Phil Veasley

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