Next up, a Hawks team that’s no longer tethered to Josh Smith, but should surprise yet again this season.
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The Atlanta Hawks were one of the most consistent teams of the past decade. Like the Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs, the Hawks were close to shoo-ins to make the playoffs each year. However, most of their forays into the postseason ended before reaching the second round.
Gone now are two pieces of ATL’s former big three: Joe Johnson and Josh Smith. All that remains from the Hawks we have grown to know in the past few seasons are Al Horford and Jeff Teague.
One of the biggest changes this offseason was replacing caoch Larry Drew (who quickly caught on with Milwaukee) with former Spurs assistant Mike Budenholzer. Budenholzer is a major upgrade on the sidelines and as a part of the extended Gregg Popovich coaching tree, it almost guarantees 30 wins.
But before we look too far ahead, let’s go through why you should watch the Atlanta Hawks.
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“ATL, LOUWILLVILLE! Tryna show ’em how my [expletive] Louis Will feel.” When you get mentioned in a rap lyric, you’re kind of a big deal. While this may not be the most memorable of Meek Mill verses, Sweet Lou will take what he can get. Williams is one of the most electric scorers in the NBA today (there’s a reason he has the microwave icon beneath his name in NBA 2K14 â€” all apologies to the original microwave, Vinnie Johnson). Williams missed most of last season due to a torn ACL he suffered in late January, but with him back in the fold, he immediately solidifies the Hawks bench. Prior to his injury, Williams was averaging 14.1 points, 3.6 assists, and 1.1 steals in just under 30 MPG. Williams is capable of going off for 30-plus points any given night due to his scoring prowess. Why would you ever want to miss out on that?
Dennis Schroeder aka Baby Rondo
With the 17th overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft the Hawks selected German point guard Dennis Schroeder. At 6-2 with about a 6-8 wingspan, the easiest comparison for the young German guard is Rajon Rondo. And while he doesn’t possess the superior court vision that has made Rondo a unique star in the NBA, Schroeder does have a much better jump shot than young Rondo. The German lead guard made a name for himself after his impressive performance in the 2013 Nike Hoop Summit where he outplayed future lottery picks, Andrew Harrison and Kasey Hill. Schroeder will start his career backing up Jeff Teague; meanwhile, Rondo got to suit up next to three future Hall-of-Famers and a future Hall of Fame coach. But if the season gets off to a bad start, Schroeder could see more minutes coming his way. Just ask the Dallas Mavericks how good Schroeder can look in 36 minutes.