2016-17 NBA Season Preview: Atlanta Hawks

2016-17 NBA Season Preview: Atlanta Hawks

The Score - NBA Basketball

Welcome to theScore's 2016-17 NBA preview, where you'll find comprehensive coverage of all 30 teams and storylines to watch this season.

Atlanta Hawks

2015-16

Record Southeast East Playoffs
48-34 2nd 4th Lost in Round 2 (4-0 CLE)

Offseason roundup

Additions Departures
Dwight Howard (3/$70.5M) Jeff Teague (IND)
Jarrett Jack (vet minimum) Al Horford (BOS)
Malcolm Delaney (2/$2.5M)
Taureen Prince (draft)
DeAndre Bembrey (draft)

Projected starting five

PG Dennis Schroder
SG Kyle Korver
SF Kent Bazemore
PF Paul Millsap
C Dwight Howard

Player to watch: Dwight Howard

After finishing second in MVP voting in 2010-11, Dwight Howard has steadily seen his play diminish over the last five seasons, going from the most dominant big man in the league to a good, but not great, player.

Howard's inability to get along with teammates and coaches has played a major part in his declining play, and has also led to his departure from three different teams over four seasons. While there's no guarantee that things will be any different in his hometown, the Hawks have done their best to create an environment in which Howard can succeed.

Like his days in Orlando, Howard will be surrounded by a bevy of 3-point shooters, helping him elude double teams and free up space down low. The eight-time All-Star isn't guaranteed to be the focal point on offense, but is almost sure to get more touches in the Hawks' pass-heavy attack.

At 30 years old, he's already past his prime, and will likely never be the player he once was. However, he's certainly capable of a bounce-back season should he stay healthy and adapt to Mike Budenholzer's offense.

Season expectations

While the Hawks should remain competitive in a relatively weak Eastern Conference, Atlanta could struggle to grab home-court advantage in the playoffs given the expected rise of the Boston Celtics and Detroit Pistons.

Replacing Al Horford with Howard isn't a tremendous downgrade, but will likely lead to a slight dip in the Hawks' win total - especially if their new signee misses extended time with another injury.

Dennis Schroder showed promise after outplaying his predecessor during last year's postseason, but there will probably be some growing pains in the early going for the 23-year-old point guard.

Rookies Taureen Prince and Malcolm Delaney should see regular minutes given the Hawks' lack of depth, but aren't expected to have a major impact this early in their careers.

Once again, the Hawks should rank near the top of the league in defensive efficiency, but are likely to remain the same, if not worse, on offense after losing Horford and Teague. Expect them to finish with between 44 and 46 wins, and capture either the No. 5 or No. 6 seed in the East.

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