Atlanta Hawks Season Preview

When Its Time to Leave the Nest

The Atlanta Hawks have been a team that’s been pretty hard for me to watch over the passed few years. If you know me well enough, or even follow me on twitter, you’ll know that I despise the offense that the Hawks have employed. So many Joe Johnson isolations. So many terrible threes. So many Josh Smith long-twos. Someone call an ambulance. Its over for me.

When they finally played well as a cohesive unit it looked like they were a team that was good enough to make it to the NBA Finals. They’ve always had the talent. Al Horford and Josh Smith are two of the top big men in the game still. Joe Johnson is one of the three or four best shooting guards in the league as well. And last, but not least, Jeff Teague has always shown a lot of promise.

Once they came back down to Earth, though, I would always change the channel. I can’t bare to watch isolation ball. This season there should be some big changes coming to the Atlanta Hawks and their offensive scheme as well.

With Joe Johnson being traded to the Brooklyn Nets, the Hawks have traded away their main isolation player. I was elated for both parties as I believe that Johnson will prosper next to Deron Williams and I think that the Hawks will prosper playing through their best players finally.

With Johnson out, the offense will move more toward a traditional NBA offense. There won’t just be backscreens that lead to isolations anymore. Instead, they’ll run high pick and roll with Teague and Horford or Smith while also running action on the weakside of their plays whether that’s a pindown or a screen that leads to a cut to the basket.

These are things that the Hawks rarely did with Johnson in the fold. The majority of the action on a play would be with him. He’d stop all positive movement with the ball once he caught it.

Like all “star” players, Johnson held the ball longer than usual. The problem was that he wasn’t efficient like most of the stars in the NBA. He also wasn’t the Hawks best player.

It seemed like once they got in the playoffs things would change for the better, but during the regular season it was a different story.

The Hawks were a team that would always have some of the losses on the schedule that are just head-scratchers because of their style of play. It was easy to dissect and very east to defend. Essentially, the opponent would know what was going to happen each time someone touched the ball. It was very boring, tedious, and predictable.

Now, with their two emerging All-Star caliber players in the front court there should be plenty of new wrinkles that come with it.

I can see it now. Josh Smith’s passing ability will be put to use. Atlanta will pinch the high post way more than usual. Jeff Teague will hang around the paint and cut more often instead of just jacking wild shots. Josh Smith’s long-twos will be cut down–or not–and Al Horford will be a feature again.

Teagueing and Taunting

Jeff Teague has always been somewhat of a mystery of sorts. You never know what he’s going to give you.

Sometimes that’s because of him getting in his own way, other times its a product of the hefty amount of isolations that he received in the flow of the offense, and other times its just him not getting touches because of that offense as well.

Teague has shown flashes of him being able to be the point guard that the Atlanta Hawks have needed through the years but he never really got the chance to shine.

For two years Teague was forced to take a seat on the bench behind Kirk Hinrich and Mike Bibby. Teague was as gifted as anyone when he first came into the NBA. It was just learning how to play the position that was the problem.

Playing behind Bibby and Hinrich was supposed to be an opportunity for him to watch two stalwarts play the game the way it was supposed to be played. It wasn’t until only last year that Teague started all 66 games for the Atlanta Hawks.

Teague had only played 13.8 Mpg the season before. This passed season it jumped to 33.1 Mpg.

I expect his minutes to take another boost by a few this upcoming season as well.

Its time for Teague to take over the reigns of the Atlanta Hawks with Joe Johnson being gone. He’s now the guard with the most experience as an Atlanta Hawk. Add that on to Devin Harris playing to role as his back up and that equals an enormous amount of pressure for Teague to succeed this season.

I believe that Teague will be able to handle it. Every season he’s improving and getting better at the position. This season should be no different. I expect big things from out of Jeff Teague this season.

Minute Allocation

This is a totally different roster from last season’s Atlanta team. They’re going to be a much more versatile team and the scoring is going to come from multiple places instead of your normal scorers. The ball movement will be much crisper and they’ll get some more scoring off of their bench.

With Marvin Williams and Joe Johnson gone, this team should me much more enjoyable to watch. They have depth at multiple positions as well. Here’s how their minutes will play out.

Starters

Jeff Teague- 34.6 Mpg

Anthony Morrow- 29.4 Mpg

Kyle Korver- 26.3 Mpg

Josh Smith- 36.4 Mpg

Al Horford- 33.4 Mpg

Reserves

Zaza Pachulia- 21.4 Mpg

Louis Williams- 28.9 Mpg

Deshawn Stevenson- 20.3 Mpg

Devin Harris- 19.3 Mpg

Jordan Farmar- 12.3 Mpg

Johan Petro- 11.9 Mpg

Ivan Johnson- 18.7 Mpg

John Jenkins- 15.9 Mpg

Conclusion

This is going to be one hell of an experimental year for the Atlanta Hawks. That’s pretty much it. With Teague taking the reigns, finally, the Hawks will know what they have at the point guard by the end of the season.

Playing through the front court should provide them with some much needed efficiency. Their two best players will have the ball in their hands a majority of the time instead of it being in only one sole players hands. They’ll also play together more. I think they’ll win somewhere between 40-45 games this season with their new squad.

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