By EMMETT SCHINDLER (@emmettws)
Photo credit goes to GQ.
The 2016-17 NBA season edges near, and it seems as if every team looks different from last season. Particularly, the Atlanta Hawks, who have made significant roster moves.
After the Hawks lost Game 4 to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second round of the playoffs, the talk of Al Horford and Jeff Teague’s career being over with the Hawks started to pick up steam. Horford entered last season with one year left on his four-year contract. There was already worry of him wanting to leave. Horford wanted to play one more season with his first NBA team, leaving an unforgettable mark in Atlanta before taking his next step in Boston.
On the other hand, “Teague Time” had just about ran out. In early February, Teague decided to delete all the Hawks affiliated photos off his Instagram, giving the Hawks the impression that he wanted out. They obliged. The Hawks traded him before the 2016 NBA Draft, sending him off to Indiana in a three-team trade, in which Atlanta received the 12th overall pick.
With Teague gone, Dennis Schroder plans to take the starting role in his third year in the league. But with Horford no longer in town, the Hawks went on the hunt for a replacement, which came in the form of hometown superstar Dwight Howard. Talk of Howard going to Atlanta started before he went from Los Angeles to Houston in 2013. After the Hawks failed to land him in 2013, they saw another chance this offseason as he was listed as a free agent again, finally getting him to sign a three-year, $70.5 million contract.
Other key additions and signings included the contract extension of forward Kent Bazemore, making it four years for $75 million, signing veteran point guard Jarrett Jack to back up Schroder and popular draft picks such as Saint Joseph's Deandre Bembry and Baylor’s Taurean Prince.
The Hawks look completely different for the first time since they drafted Horford. The usual Horford and Teague combo with a strong shooting cast now goes away, and the fate of the Hawks’ success lies in the hands of Howard, Paul Millsap, Schroder and Bazemore.
I predict the Hawks will finish worse than last year but still make the playoffs around the sixth or seventh seed. They need a couple years to build chemistry and find out the main needs on the roster. With it all being led by a strong head coach in Mike Budenholzer, the Hawks look to continue their yearly mediocrity and make the playoffs with new faces up front.