44-38, 2nd in Southeast Division, 6th in Eastern Conference
98.0 PPG/97.5 Opponent PPG
Pero Antic (international free agent), Gustavo Ayon (waivers-Milwaukee), Elton Brand (FA-Dallas), DeMarre Carroll (FA-Utah), Jared Cunningham (trade-Dallas), Paul Millsap (FA-Utah), Dennis Schroder (first-round draft pick, No. 17 overall).
Devin Harris (FA-Dallas), Ivan Johnson (FA-China), Dahntay Jones (FA-unsigned), Zaza Pachulia (FA-Milwaukee), Johan Petro (FA-China), Josh Smith (FA-Detroit), DeShawn Stevenson (waived), Anthony Tolliver (FA-Charlotte).
After several seasons of being one of those teams that was just good enough to win 45 or so games and finish somewhere between a No. 4 seed and a No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference, the Atlanta Hawks may be in the mode of taking a small step back in 2013-14 in order to take a larger step forward.
Gone is coach Larry Drew, who coached the Hawks to three straight playoff berths—and two straight first-round exits—while going 128-102 over his three years at the helm. Also gone is Josh Smith, the talented-yet-frustrating player with the power forward frame and the shooting guard brain.
Smith and Drew are the most significant subtractions, with longtime San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Mike Budenholzer—who once coached Hawks’ general manager Danny Ferry—and former Utah Jazz power forward Paul Millsap being the most significant additions.
But Atlanta also added a lot of depth, bringing in veterans Elton Brand and DeMarre Carroll, drafting touted German point guard Dennis Schroder and signing international veteran big man Pero Antic.
The biggest story line, however, was the commitment to Al Horford as the franchise’s centerpiece and the commitment to Jeff Teague as the point guard of the present. Atlanta matched a four-year, $32 million offer sheet the Milwaukee Bucks extended to the restricted free agent, who averaged career-highs of 14.6 points and 7.2 assists last season.
Horford, meanwhile, also posted career-best numbers last year, averaging 17.4 points and 10.2 rebounds as his playing time jumped to a career-high 37.2 minutes a game as he returned after missing most of 2011-12 with a shoulder injury.
All of the moving parts fall into place and the Hawks challenge the upper echelon in the Eastern Conference, winning around 50 games and competing for a top-four seed in a very top-heavy conference.
Teague struggles to live up to the new deal, Millsap has trouble finding his rhythm next to Horford down low and Brand can’t take the physical pounding of even being asked for 20 or so minutes a night. Atlanta struggles to win 35 games, but makes the playoffs anyway because of the general weakness after the top five or so teams out East.
41-41, 2nd in Southeast Division, 7th in Eastern Conference