The Atlanta Hawks made the NBA Playoffs for the 10th straight season, but lost in the first round. Here are Atlanta’s five biggest needs for this offseason.
For the 10th straight season, the Atlanta Hawks qualified for the Eastern Conference Playoffs. It was an up-and-down year for Atlanta, but the Hawks managed to finish with the fifth-best record in the East. They battled hard in the first round, but John Wall’s speed in transition was too much for the Hawks defense to handle.
Atlanta now finds itself once again in the awful middle of the NBA hierarchy. We can essentially pencil the Hawks into making the playoffs annually, but this team has nothing close to a championship-caliber ceiling.
There is however a few things to like about Atlanta going forward. Point guard Dennis Schroder and small forward Taurean Prince took big steps forward in the playoffs. Atlanta plays excellent defense and distributes the ball very well offensively. Mike Budenholzer remains one of the better coaches in the Eastern Conference.
That being said, Atlanta will have several big choices to make this offseason. Here are Atlanta’s five biggest offseason needs heading into summer 2017.
5. Take care of the basketball
While Atlanta played with the 10th quickest pace in the NBA this season, maybe slowing it down a tad would have been advantageous for the Hawks’ offense. Atlanta finished 27th in offensive efficiency in 2016-17, although the team was fourth in defensive rating.
The biggest problem for the Hawks this past season was they just loved turning the basketball over. We could see this season-long problem coming from a mile away. This is what happened when Schroder was thrust into his first year as a starting floor general. Long-time starting point guard Jeff Teague was traded to the Indiana Pacers around last summer’s NBA Draft.
Schroder was obviously pressing to both pick up the slack and to some degree show off a bit at point guard. Malcolm Delaney certainly has his limitations as a backup. Jose Calderon was a nice reserve guard, but he only came over late in the season.
Once Atlanta had to rely on shooting guards Kent Bazemore and Tim Hardaway Jr. to run the offense when Schroder had to sit out in games for varying reasons, the turnovers were far too commonplace in the Hawks offense.
Atlanta doesn’t have to be hyper-efficient in distribution skills, but getting out of the cellar in the turnover department would help. Expect Atlanta to focus on taking caring of the basketball in their offseason acquisitions and for that to be a theme for next year’s squad.