With the start of the 2013-14 NBA season rapidly approaching, we thought it only fair to share what makes each team so exciting. Ontologically speaking, all 30 teams deserve our eyeballs this season. Even disastrous lineups still present oodles of plays, personalities, highlights and headaches. Here are five things to keep in mind for each team before flipping the channel.
Next up, a Hawks team that’s no longer tethered to Josh Smith, but should surprise yet again this season.
[5 Reasons To Watch: Kings, Lakers, Knicks, 76ers, Bobcats, Cavs, Magic, Warriors, Timberwolves, Nuggets, Clippers, Clippers, Rockets, Bulls, Pistons, Bucks, Nets, Pacers, Wizards, Thunder, Heat, Mavericks, Celtics, Raptors Hawks, Spurs, Trail Blazers, Grizzlies, Suns, Jazz]
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.
*** *** ***
“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.
Al Horford & Paul Millsap
If you wanted to give an up-and-coming big man tape of three players with the most complete game in the NBA, Al Horford and Paul Millsap would find themselves featured. Horford has been seemingly playing out of position (only 6-10) his whole NBA career; yet, that hasn’t stopped him from posting career numbers of 13.7 PPG and 9.7 RPG. He brings the best of both worlds offensively and defensively. He can hit shots from as far as the free throw line extended; he can guard players anywhere from three to five inches taller.
Millsap is no slacker, either. Many of today’s undersized power forwards have him to thank for getting a shot in the league. Without his consistent success over his seven-year career, power forwards today would still look like Kevin McHale [Ed. note: no word on whether this was an armpit hair joke]. A frontcourt of Horford and Millsap will be one of the best tandems in the league and will be responsible for nightly double-doubles. Now if only they can team for that beautiful Smith-Horford big-big pick-and-roll the Hawks ran so effectively on the interior last season.
A Real Offense
No disrespect to Mike Woodson‘s “ISO Joe” and whatever it was Larry Drew ran last year, but the Atlanta Hawks haven’t been the epitome of offensive ingenuity the past few seasons. Though a part of me will miss Joe Johnson completely ignoring his teammates for 15 seconds or Josh Smith spastically maneuver his way through a defense, I am even more excited to see what Mike Budenholzer has in store for this underrated group in ATL. Coming from the Spurs organization, I can only guess Budenholzer’s offensive sets will involve constant motion, a gauntlet of screens and a healthy dose of corner 3-pointers. I don’t know about anyone else, but to me that sounds like the perfect way to get the most out of Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver, Al Horford and Paul Millsap.
Kyle Korver Never Missing Again
Lost in the spectacularly awesome shooting display last season that was Stephen Curry, is the fact that Kyle Korver is still an elite shooter himself. He connected on an incomprehensible 45.7 percent of his shots from downtown and made a total of 189 on the year – good for the fourth most in the NBA. Another great thing about Korver is that he’s accurate from every spot behind the arc and with the elite post presence of Horford and Millsap, teams will have to sag off someone to give help down low. That should allow Korver time and space to spot up and knock down rainbow three after rainbow three.
The best thing about watching Korver shoot is once he hits one, you don’t even question whether the next few shots will find the bottom of the twine. With a better offense, and better spacing, Korver should experience an even better year from the outside.
What do you think?
Follow Brandon on Twitter at @DOTcom_2.
Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.