2012 NBA Offseason: Atlanta Hawks

Written by Paul Banks of the Washington Times, David Kay and Peter Christian of the The Sports Bank. Send Paul an e-mail here: paulb05 AT hotmail DOT com.
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Atlanta Hawks (Last Year: 40-26)

2011-12 Season Summary:
Good, but not great. That simple statement sums up what the Atlanta Hawks have been the past few seasons including this strike-shortened campaign. Signed to a max contract two summers ago, Joe Johnson is expected to be the star player propelling the team. While he put together another solid season, Johnson was far from spectacular and fails to live up to the monstrous deal.

His No. 2, Josh Smith, posted career numbers in point and rebounds, but still thinks he can actually shoot the ball from the perimeter. His versatility continues to be a major asset though. Meanwhile, Marvin Williams once again underperformed as he fails to live up to being the second-overall pick in the 2005 NBA Draft.

The Hawks suffered a big blow when Al Horford suffered a pectoral injury that limited him to just 11 regular season games. That left an already thin Atlanta frontcourt with even less depth and talent inside. Horford did return in the postseason, but he was unable to provide enough production to help get the team past the first round.

Jeff Teague played well in his first season of taking the reins as the starting point guard, though he lacks the play-making ability to be a true distributor at this point in his young career. The man he replaced at the point, Kirk Hinrich, easily had his worst season since entering the league, which points to the end of his brief time in Atlanta.

Outside of their core, the Hawks relied on journeymen like Tracy McGrady, Vladimir Radmanovic, Jason Collins, Willie Green and even the likes of Erick Dampier and Jerry Stackhouse to try and fill the role of rotation players. Needless to say, the lack of depth helped lead to the team’s quick exit from the playoffs.

2012-13 Projected Depth Chart:

C: Al Horford/Zaza Pachulia

PF: Josh Smith/*Ivan Johnson

SF: Marvin Williams

SG: Joe Johnson

PG: Jeff Teague

NBA Free Agents:

*PF-Ivan Johnson (RFA)

SF-Tracy McGrady (UFA)

PG-Kirk Hinrich (UFA)

SG-Willie Green (UFA)

C-Jason Collins (UFA)

C-Erick Dampier (UFA)

G-Jannero Pargo (UFA)

F-Vladimir Radmonovic (UFA)

SF-Jerry Stackhouse (UFA)

2012-13 Team Salary: Approximately $60.9 million

NBA Offseason Needs:

1. Small Forward: It is crystal clear that Marvin Williams is not the long-term answer as the team’s starting small forward. Even head coach Larry Drew realized this after Williams came off the bench the latter part of the regular season. Atlanta would be wise to spend its mid-level exception on a player capable of starting on the wing alongside Joe Johnson.

2. Point Guard: Jeff Teague took a solid step forward in his first full season as the team’s starting point guard. There is still room for him to develop his game, but regardless, the Hawks need to bring in another point guard who can at least serve as Teague’s backup or possibly even play quality minutes if Teague doesn’t progress next season.

3. Quality Depth: Finding quality depth will not be easy since Atlanta is already over the salary cap and will be very limited in what it can do during free agency. Filling the roster with veteran league-minimum players will likely yield a similar result as last season with a weak bench. That’s what happens when you overpay Joe Johnson the max-value contract and he is eating up one-third of your team’s cap.

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