Is it foolish to count out the Atlanta Hawks before the season begins? The following is my assessment for the projected starters for the 2017/18 NBA season.
The Atlanta Hawks on paper admittedly don’t look as good as previous seasons but are we judging them too early? With the 2016 and 2017 NBA drafts respectively, Hawks fans received three players that they can see as being the future in Taurean Prince, Deandre Bembry, and John Collins. Prince was given his opportunity late in season but he has shown he is a key player for the Hawks with a lot of potential. Deandre Bembry when given opportunities shined like no other such as when he shut down league MVP candidate James Harden in the 2nd half in their meeting. At the 2017 NBA draft John Collins was thought of as an old school power forward who doesn’t meet the standards of today’s spacing era. In the summer league Collins quickly flourished and was unleashed in a way that was never seen during his tenure at Wake Forest.
Dennis Schroder reached a new level last season and looks to continue developing into a star for the Atlanta Hawks. Schroder averaged 17.9 pts and 6.3 asts during his 2016-17 campaign. Dennis Schroder excels when he is on a team where he can drive and kick out to knockdown shooters. The difference between this year’s team and last year’s team is this team has more than one capable shooter. Between the additions of Marco Belinelli and Luke Babbitt coupled with the returning Ersan Ilyasova and Mike Muscala, Dennis Schroder will be a force to reckon with this season with capable knockdown shooters. The best part about the Hawks current situation is Dennis Schroder is only 24 years old and is under contract for years to come. Look for Schroder to improve astronomically this season.
Kent Bazemore was paid a whopping 70 million dollars to remain in an Atlanta Hawks uniform this past season. During the season, it was clear that he had regressed as it seemed like he was playing hero ball for much of the season. When Bazemore was signed here, he was just an energy guy who would provide solid defense in transition. The thing is that’s just what he is an energy guy. Bazemore does nothing special besides 3 and D but he is being paid like he is a star player. This article isn’t for bashing players so I won’t digress any further. With a full offseason of work, Kent Bazemore can really improve his game. If Bazemore can get anywhere near his shooting form from the 14-15 season the Hawks will certainly look better. Coach Budenhozler will start him at his true position (shooting guard) and as chemistry develops throughout the team, Bazemore will start to soar to his true potential.
Taurean Prince worked hard last season and it paid off when he was told that he was the starter at small forward. He was also the first rookie since Pete Maravich to score in double figures in first playoff starts as a rookie. Prince showed that he has worked on his game a lot with a strong summer league showing alongside his co-draftee Deandre’ Bembry. Prince averaged 13.3 points, 2.5 assists, and 1.5 rebounds in an impressive summer league outing. In the playoffs Prince showed that he was here to stay keeping up with the Otto Porter and on some occasions matching him point for point. At the draft, he was merely seen as a 3 and D player but prince showed the NBA that he can become much more.
Ersan Ilyasova was the leading charge drawer in the league last season finishing with 36 charges drawn. Ilyasova is a solid floor spacer who is returning to the hawks on a 1-year deal. With the selection of John Collins in this year’s NBA Draft Ilyasova is merely a holdover until John Collins is ready to step into the role of a starter. Last season, Ilyasova shot from beyond the arc at a 35 percent clip. For the hawks offense to run at maximum capacity Ersan Ilyasova is going to have to let it fly and spread the floor. A significant difference from last year’s squad is that Ersan will not be the only guy capable of shooting, the hawks added the likes of Marco Belinelli and Luke Babbitt both guys known for the knockdown shooting. This year’s hawks team will look more like a Coach Bud hawks team reminiscent of peak Atlanta Hawks basketball in the 2014-15 season.
Dewayne Dedmon came off the bench for the San Antonio Spurs and excelled whenever he was called upon. Now that he has new scenery he should be able to really show what he is capable of in the starting lineup. Dedmon was the 2nd best defensive center in the league last season according to some reports. Dedmon gets most of his bread and butter as a pick and roll guy but he shines in it. He might be compared to Dwight Howard early on I the season sans the need for post touches. Dedmon’s defensive impact will be felt this season as he allows less than 1 point per possession. Look for Dedmon to be in the running for most improved player under coach Mike Budenholzer.
STAY TUNED FOR PART TWO
Part two will assess the bench also known as the bench mob for the Atlanta Hawks! Meanwhile take your time and read more articles on atlantahawkstalk.com
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