SE division: Wizards could soar past Hawks

SE division: Wizards could soar past Hawks
July 8, 2013, 12:15 pm
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What not to do in NBA free agency

an 12, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards point guard John Wall (2) defends Atlanta Hawks point guard Devin Harris (34) during the first half at the Verizon Center.

(Brad Mills-USA Today Sports)

The Wizards have certainly been busy this off-season, but how do they stack up with the other teams in the Southeast Division? Having already analyzed the Charlotts BobcatsOrlando Magic and the defending champion Miami Heat, we wrap up this update with the truly new look Atlanta Hawks.

Last season: 44-38, second place; Like most recent campaigns, the Hawks finished in the middle of the Eastern Conference pack, this time losing to Indiana in the opening round of the playoffs.  Josh Smith's 17.5 points per game led Atlanta in scoring, Al Horford in rebounding (10.2) and Jeff Teague in assists (7.2). 

What's new: How about almost everything. Smith took his potent, but frustrating game to the Motor City, signing a four-year, $56 million deal with the Detroit Pistons. Center Zaza Pachulia and guard Devin Harris signed free agent deals with Milwaukee and Dallas respectively. Restricted free agent Jeff Teague is rumored to be joining Pachulia with the Bucks in a swap for Brandon Jennings.  If you're wondering why the Bucks of all teams are targeting Atlanta players, its's probably because after coaching the Hawks last season, Larry Drew now is doing that for Milwaukee. The Hawks' front office didn't extend his contract and instead hired former Spurs assistant Mike Budenholzer as their new head coach. As for those veterans heading to Atlanta, former Utah Jazz power forward Paul Millsap signed a two-year deal and guard Jared Cunningham came over in a deal with Dallas while perimeter threat Kyle Korver agreed to stick around thanks to a new three-year contract. Via the draft, the Hawks landed German point guard Dennis Schroeder, Brazillian center Lucas Nogueria and Bucknell big man Mike Muscala

Projected 2013-14 lineup: PF Paul Millsap; SF Kyle Korver; C Al Horford; SG Lou Williams; PG TBD; Key reserves G DeShawn Stevenson, G John Jenkins, G Jared Cunningham

Outlook: At this point, who knows. Not only is the Teague-Jennings rumor out there but the Hawks are also reportedly in the hunt for scoring guard Monta Ellis. However, don't expect a reunion with former Milwaukee teammate Jennings should that deal go down seeing as that pairing didn't work so well together the first time. Millsap is a legitimate low-post threat, but his presence also means Horford is stuck playing out of position at center. For now there a gaping holes on the bench, especially in the frontcourt. Schroeder is expected to play in the NBA this season, but Nogueria likely remains overseas for now. Has Atlanta done enough already to keep them in the basic playoff chase? Maybe. Could they fall behind the Wizards in the divisional standings? Perhaps, especially if the Wizards receive good health from their main players and maintain the chemistry they showed during the second half of the season. Does it look like after missing out on Dwight Howard and Chris Paul in free agency general manager Danny Ferry  is throwing ideas up against the wall in the hopes of finding some short-term solutions while he covertly rebuilds the team? Yep, pretty much.