Atlanta Hawks 2013-14 Team Review

Posted by C.L. Anthony on Monday, June 30, 2014 with No comments
No one could have imagined that on May 1st of the year 2014 that the Atlanta Hawks would be only 48 minutes away from defeating the number one seed in the Eastern Conference, the Indiana Pacers.  The Hawks had seemingly taken control of the series and the Pacers were reeling, fighting alongside of one another on the court while battling each other off of the court.  The Hawks would eventually falter in game 6 and eventually return to normalcy during game 7 as the Pacers moved on to the second round.  Despite the undesired result, the Hawks had served notice to the entire league as they were not going to be an easy out.

First year head coach Mike Budenholzer further moved the franchise away from the days of "Iso Joe" made famous by Mike Woodson and continued with Larry Drew.  Having served under Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs, Budenholzer brought a free flowing offense to the Hawks where the ball simply doesn't "stick".  Budenholzer was the right fit for the franchise who at the time was fighting for an identity.  Now dubbed as the "Spurs of the East" Atlanta has become a somewhat enticing situations for free agents.

During the regular season they amassed a record of 38 wins and 44 losses which in seasons past wouldn't result in a playoff berth.  Adding to the equation that they were without "franchise" Al Horford for three fourths of the season makes their result much more impressive.  With that being said the absence of Horford allowed G Jeff Teague to continue his stellar play and ascend to new heights as there was no doubt to who was the most important player for the Hawks last season.  Teague averaged a career high 16.5 points per game and added 6.7 assists.  Not fazed by "the moment", Teague raised his scoring output to 19.3 points per game during the playoffs.

Off-season addition Paul Milsap was stellar for the Hawks he was one of the best off-season acquisitions (2 years, $19 million).  Millsap averaged 17.9 points (career high) and 8.5 rebounds per game.  His stellar season was validated when he was named to the 2014 NBA All-Star Game as a reserve for the Eastern Conference.  Millsap's first season with the Hawks also included his first ever triple double which came against the Toronto Raptors.  The overtime win saw the Hawks saw Millsap finish with 19 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists.

As currently constructed the Hawks have a young nucleus and tons of cap space but as far as immediate needs are concerned they need a solid small forward that can stretch the floor and engage in perimeter defense.  A name that comes to mind here is Trevor Ariza who will be an unrestricted free agent.  More known for his defensive capabilities, Ariza can be an explosive offensive threat.  Last season for the Washington Wizards, Ariza averaged 14.4 points and 6.2 rebounds per game.  Franchises such as the Los Angeles Lakers will allow try to lure Ariza away from the Nation's Capital but the Hawks will allow Ariza the chance to have more offensive freedom than he has in Washington or would have in Los Angeles.

Another name that has come up as a possible target for the Hawks is Luol Deng who is currently vacationing in Europe.  Deng split last season between the Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers and while Deng is older than Ariza by a few months, he's still just as capable.  For his career Deng has averaged 16 points and 6.3 rebounds per game and is seeking between $10-12 million in free agency.  The Hawks have potentially freed extra cap space by recently trading G Lou Williams to the Toronto Raptors in an attempt to draw a big name.

The Atlanta Hawks are definitely a team on the rise in the weak eastern conference and they will benefit greatly from the return of Al Horford and the continued emergence of Jeff Teague.  Should they acquire either Trevor Ariza or Luol Deng, the Spurs of the East will be a team on the rise and should threaten to to enter the second round of the playoffs next season and possibly even further in the near future.