Last season the Atlanta Hawks dominated their way to a 60-22 record with #1 seeding in the Eastern Conference. They defeated the #8 seed Brooklyn Nets 4-2 in the 1st round and advanced to face the #5 seed Washington Wizards. They also defeated the Washington Wizards 4-2. They advanced to face the #2 Cleveland Cavaliers. The Atlanta Hawks were swept 4-0 by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The NBA season is 34 days away. In light of that, I have the Atlanta Hawks ranked #9 in my power rankings coming into the season. Since this is the first team I am doing I will also introduce my trending upwards/downwards/or neutral. With the offseason teams are having, I will say whether they are trending upwards (good direction for next season), trending downwards (bad direction for next season), trending neutral (staying the same as last season). I have the Atlanta Hawks trending neutral. Atlanta Hawks were able to acquire Tim Hardaway Jr. from the New York Knicks, acquire Thiago Splitter from the Spurs, and re-sign Paul Millsap as the most notable moves. With Tim Hardaway Jr., they acquire good depth at the shooting guard and small forward positions which is good especially with injuries from Kyle Korver and Thabo Sefolosha last season. Hardaway played 24.0mpg for the Knicks last season and averaged 11.5ppg while shooting .389% from the field and .342% from the 3pt line. Re-signing Paul Millsap was a major move for the Atlanta Hawks continuing their dominance as he averaged 16.7ppg, 7.8rpg, and 3.1apg in 32.7mpg in the regular season and then following it with a 15.2ppg, 8.7rpg, and 3.4apg average in the playoffs. Trading for Thiago Splitter was one of their best moves of the regular season as they got a true center with no offense to Al Horford. Horford is more of a power forward than a center but he can play center as he showed last season.
Why aren’t they trending upwards then? Their lone non All-Star DeMarre Carroll is gone to play for the Toronto Raptors as he and Millsap were free agents and they could only choose one. I believe they made the right choice in choosing Paul Millsap but the effects of Carroll’s departure will be felt. Carroll averaged 12.6ppg and 5.3rpg while shooting .395% from the 3pt line with those stats jumping up to 14.6ppg and 6.1rpg while shooting .403% from the 3pt line. It was a breakout season for DeMarre offensively but he was also their best perimeter defender as he was usually tasked with guarding the other teams best player. Now Thabo Sefolosha is expected to become their starting small forward which is a huge downgrade. The effects of Carroll will be felt. The Hawks will still enjoy a successful season but will be ousted once again in the playoffs, most likely before the Eastern Conference Finals unlike last season.