NBA Future Power Rankings 18. Atlanta Hawks
*Photo via Getty Images
The Atlanta Hawks may have been the NBA’s biggest surprise last season, besting their 2013-14 record by 22 wins. Unfortunately, the Hawks success does not appear sustainable as they are heading in the wrong direction. The Hawks knew before free agency began that if they wanted to avoid paying a large luxury tax, they would have to choose between Paul Millsap and DeMarre Carroll. The Hawks elected to re-sign Paul Millsap to a 3-year, $60 million contract (player option on third year) and were forced to watch Carroll sign with the Toronto Raptors for 4-years, $58 million.
The East looks much improved this season, which would have made it hard for the Hawks to stay atop of the conference even if they had kept Carroll. Without the Junkyard Dog, the task seems nearly impossible. Atlanta relied on Carroll to guard the opposing teams’ best perimeter player each night while still producing on efficiently on offense. Carroll was even the team’s top scorer throughout much of the playoffs.
ATL did get a glimpse of life without Carroll when he was injured during against the Cleveland Cavaliers during the Eastern Conference Finals. They will now have to rely on a combination of Thabo Sefolosha, Kent Bazemore, Justin Holiday, and Tim Hardaway Jr. to fill the void. With Kyle Korver recovering from ankle surgery the Hawks will be weaker on the wing heading into the 2015 season.
*Photo via Getty Images
Atlanta did improve their big men rotation with the addition of Tiago Splitter. The Brazilian is a very good post defender and can hold his own on offense. He rebounds well and is a vastly underrated passer out of the post. Acquiring Splitter on a reasonable two-year contract for practically nothing was a great move for the Hawks.
So why are they 18th in the future power rankings? ATL’s roster could be in for a major turnover, as the bulk of their core could test free agency within the next two seasons. This leaves the Hawks with some very important decisions regarding its current roster. With the Hawks soaring to the Conference Finals last year, anything short of that would be a disappointment. It’s possible that if Atlanta gets upset in the first round, management decides to blow up the team and go in a different direction. Only time will tell.
The Hawks are owed at least four second round picks from other teams and possibly a first or additional second rounders from the Minnesota Timberwolves. With so many picks, Atlanta has a lot of different options available to them, but with options comes uncertainty, and the Hawks future is clouded by it.
Stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com, NBA.com, ESPN.com
Salary cap and contract information courtesy of Spotrac.com, Hoopshype.com, Basketballinsiders.com
Future draft commitments and rosters information courtesy of RealGM.com