The Atlanta Hawks season starts on October 27th, so Hawks fans still have a while to wait. But while fans are anxiously counting down the days, this new player prediction series will hopefully give fans their fill of the Hawks each week. Only two starters remain from 2014, Kyle Korver and Paul Millsap, so there will be plenty of new players in different roles. As well, the Hawks have signed a few key free agents. With all that said, here are the projections for the first three players of this series.
This week: Dennis Schröder, Kyle Korver, Kent Bazemore
from the Boston GlobeDennis Schröder, PG:
Dennis Schröder is entering his fourth season in the NBA and is still only twenty-two years old. He was taken 17th overall in the 2013 draft and could be the steal of that draft, if he can reach his potential this year in, his first season in the starting five. Each year he has taken huge strides in just about every way possible. Schröder averaged 11 ppg last season coming off the bench behind Jeff Teague. Now in a starting role, Schröder has the chance to take over the Hawks and have by far his best season yet. The great thing about Schröder replacing Teague is that the Hawk’s game plan does not have to change. The playing styles of the two are very similar; they both have great quickness, and are extremely skilled at driving and scoring near the rim. Schröder also does well in pick-and-rolls and can throw highlight reel alley-oops to his teammates, which is perfect for the Hawks new center Dwight Howard.
from the Atlanta Hawks
Kyle Korver, SG:
Kyle Korver has been in the NBA for a very long time. Did you know he played with Allen Iverson back in 2003? He’s played for the Sixers, Jazz, Bulls, and for the last four years, the Hawks. In coach Budenholzer’s motion and shooting based offense, Kyle Korver’s ability as a laser from deep has been on display more then it ever had before. In the 2014-15 season Korver came dangerously close to a 50-50-90 season. But last year his numbers took a big hit. His 3-point percentage went down from a ridiculous .492 to just .398, and his PPG went from 12 to 9. He’s now thirty-five and his speed and knee issues reflect that. The only reason that he is in the starting lineup over Tim Hardaway Jr. is because he requires constant defensive pressure, which opens up the court for the rest of the team. Every game last season, there was always a defender glued to Korver, often pulling on his jersey and grabbing on to him so as not to lose him around screens. While it’s believed he will begin the season on the starting lineup, there is a good chance he ends it coming off the bench.
Kent Bazemore, SF:
Kent Bazemore has always been a fan favorite wherever he goes and now he has the strong play to go along with that. Baze went undrafted out of Old Dominion and played limited minutes for Golden State (yes they existed before 2014) and the Lakers (yes they still exist.) Once he got to the Hawks he began to get the hang of things in this league and was recently rewarded with a 4 year, $70 million contract. He’s fun to watch on the bench with his excitable personality and celebrations, but he’s even better to watch on the court. Bazemore turns into a lighting bolt of energy for the Hawks, sparking comebacks, getting steals and knocking down that beautiful corner three. But maybe the best thing about Kent Bazemore is not his athleticism or his shot, but that in order to stay in Atlanta this offseason he had to take considerably less money then if he were to sign with another team. It is rare nowadays for a player to take less money to stay where they are. This shows Bazemore’s dedication to his team and his city.
This backcourt of the Atlanta Hawks has the potential to be very good if Dennis can continue to develop, Korver can get back to his sharpshooting ways and Bazemore plays with the same energy that he has his entire career.
Next week: Paul Millsap, Dwight Howard, Tim Hardaway Jr.
Featured image courtesy of Peachtree Hoops