NBA Predictions: Atlanta Hawks Futures Odds
by Aaron Smith - 10/7/2013
Atlanta has been stuck in neutral for the past few seasons. The Hawks were consistently good, but they were never good enough to get past the second round of the playoffs. Atlanta earned the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference with 44 wins last year, but it was clear to everyone that they weren’t a real threat to win the East.
Hawks General Manager Danny Ferry and the rest of the front office decided that this relatively good team wasn’t good enough in the offseason. Atlanta decided to go a different direction and see if the team can become a perennial contender for the top of the conference rather than an automatic out in the first or second round of the playoffs. You certainly can’t blame them for trying to get better. Let’s take a closer look at the offseason of the Atlanta Hawks. Will the new-look Hawks be a better team than the previous version?
Swapping Smith for Millsap
Josh Smith was a big part of the Atlanta Hawks organization for nine seasons. He was often talked about around the trade deadline, but the team held onto him until this offseason. Smith was let go in free agency. Atlanta decided to pick up Paul Millsap to take Smith’s place in the frontcourt. Smith is an ultra-talented player who will be missed on this roster, but Millsap is a high-quality big man who should fit in well beside Al Horford.
The Hawks lose some athleticism and defensive ability in swapping out Smith for Millsap, but they also get more of a low-post presence. One of the big knocks on Smith in recent years was his unwillingness to work in the post. Smith continued to take a lot of outside jumpers despite shooting a poor percentage. Millsap is your prototypical forward who will pound the glass and work hard in the paint. Atlanta should be an even better rebounding team moving forward. Time will tell how this swap will turn out for the Hawks, but I think it was a wise move to make since the team had become stagnant. It should also be noted that the Hawks got a good deal on Millsap. Atlanta signed Millsap to a two-year contract worth $19 million.
Other Offseason Player Moves
The biggest move of the offseason was definitely the Smith for Millsap swap, but the Hawks did make a few other moves that could impact the team in the year ahead. Zaza Pachulia has moved on in the offseason, and the Hawks picked up Gustavo Ayon and Elton Brand to shore up the frontcourt. In addition, DeMarre Carroll was brought in to help bring some more athleticism to the frontcourt.
The backcourt looks almost identical as it did last season. The Hawks flirted with bringing in Brandon Jennings, but they decided to stick with Jeff Teague and John Jenkins in the backcourt. Those two need to continue to progress and become more consistent this season. Dennis Schroeder was drafted to be the team’s backup point guard, and he has potential to be very good with time. Kyle Korver was re-signed to give the team a high-quality outside shooter. Lou Williams missed most of last season with an injury, and he should give the backcourt a boost this year.
Budenholzer New Head Coach
Mike Budenholzer was named the Atlanta Hawks new coach during the offseason. Budenholzer comes to Atlanta after 18 seasons as an assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs. Gregg Poppovich speaks extremely highly of Budenholzer’s knowledge of the game, which tells me that he has the potential be a very good hire. Atlanta will attempt to follow the Spurs model of building up a winner. One major problem for Budenholzer is the Hawks certainly don’t have the kind of talent that the Spurs had to work with. Coach Budenholzer also got his time in Atlanta off to a bad start after being arrested for driving under the influence in late August.
NBA Prediction: Atlanta Hawks Futures Odds
Atlanta isn’t thought of very highly by the oddsmakers this year. Bovada lists the Hawks at 150/1 to win the NBA title in 2014. BetOnline lists Atlanta at +6,500 to win the Eastern Conference.
Why are the oddsmakers low on this team? Even though Atlanta has taken steps to switch up their roster, it isn’t clear that they have made themselves better. In addition, keep in mind that the top of the Eastern Conference has gotten significantly better in the past year. The Hawks are going to have a very hard time keeping up with the elite teams in the East.
I like the fact that Atlanta made some changes, but I can’t imagine this team making a significant move up this year. There are just too many teams with a lot more talent. Atlanta might be a player in the free agent market after the 2014 season, though, and that could change things quickly for this franchise.
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