They have been consistent playoff participants in the east, even making the first seed 2 seasons ago. However, the Hawks will need to pull some strings to keep up their great past few seasons.
This team is built around star power forward Paul Millsap. The big man arrived in 2013 from the Utah Jazz in a trade. Ever since, he has been the centerpiece of the squad. He is a solid athlete, dominates the post, and can even stretch the floor beyond the three-point line.
This offseason, he will be an unrestricted free agent. He has rejected a contract offer from the Hawks in desire for a max contract, as he is a max contract caliber player. Unless Atlanta cough up the cash, we could see Millsap moving to play with a team that is willing to give him the contract he wishes.
How Atlanta manages Millsap is going to be a huge part of having a successful season. Ever since Al Horford left to join the Boston Celtics, Paul has had a huge load of responsibility dumped on his shoulders. He has handled it very well so far, and we know he wants to stay in Atlanta. If he doesn’t get his max contract, however, it could mean trouble for the Hawks.
Looking at the rest of the roster, there are still other solid players hitting the court for the Hawks. Former Orlando Magic superstar, Dwight Howard, is currently on the team. Averaging 13.5 points and 12.7 rebounds, he can still hold his own as a strong offensive and defensive asset.
The team is also run through Dennis Schroder, who averaged 17.9 points and 6.3 assists. Tim Hardaway Jr. also averaged 14.5 points. The team has some solid players they can rely on, but without Millsap, they don’t have an all-star caliber player.
We know that Atlanta must hold on to Millsap, but the issues don’t end there. They need to step up their shooting. At the foul line, the Hawks finished with a team average of 72.8%. This puts them 28th in the NBA. This is horrendous, and it could pull a few more wins out of the bag if Dwight Howard learned how to stop clanking his free throws.
They also have to show some progress from the 3-point line. With Kyle Korver having been traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the 3-point shooting load has been giving to basically the best players on the team. They don’t have shooting role players, and that is something that needs to be fixed coming into the next season.
Speaking of role players, the team could improve their depth pretty thoroughly. The backup point guard is Malcolm Delaney, a former Georgia Tech player. That. plan didn’t quite pan out as it was expected to.
Atlanta brought in Jose Calderon with a one-year deal, which didn’t end up turning out too badly. They shouldn’t aim to draft a point guard, but they could make use of signing a veteran on a small contract that could help push Dennis Schroder’s ceiling even higher. Even backup center Mike Muscala was a big disappointment, only averaging just over 6 points and 3 rebounds.
All these reasons are basically small tunes and adjustments that could be made to the squad for the better, except for the Millsap scenario. The future of the Atlanta Hawks franchise is dependent on keeping that man in the city to play ball next season, and there is no easy way to do it other than giving him the max contract he ever so deserves.