The Atlanta Hawks had one of the busiest off-seasons in the NBA. With two top-20 picks in this year draft along with only 3 players on the books they were in prime position for Danny Ferry to put his fingerprint on the future. After an awkward departure from Larry Drew in which both parties flirted with others during the pending divorce the future is quite bright in Atlanta. Ferry managed to lure long time Spurs assistant Mike Budenholzer away from his assumed coach in waiting post behind Pop to man the overhaul in Atlanta. The connection is obvious with Ferry and Bud working together for years on winning the “Spurs Way.”
The acquisition of Budenholzer coincided with the Detroit departure of Josh Smith. Smith was a pariah in Atlanta for his refusal to ignore bad shots, his constant on court bickering, and lack of consistency. Without Smith, the Hawks are sure to take a hit on the defensive side of the court where the already undersized front court will remain small and lose its leading shot blocker from last season. They will still have an All-Star in the starting lineup in Al Horford. Horford is continuously overlooked by the media, returned to All-Star form averaging 17.4 points and 10.2 rebounds per game while leading the Hawks in minutes. Ferry continued to his trend of spending money wisely filling the gap left by Josh Smith with a tremendous two-year deal with Paul Millsap. The front court will remain undersized with the Millsap – Horford duo but it will rebound and score in bunches. Ferry brought in Elton Brand on a friendly one year deal to help solidify the bench. In addition to Brand, the bench will finally have some big men who might contribute after the acquisition of Gustavo Ayon, who was claimed off of waivers from Milwaukee. and Pero Antic, a stretch four with tons of Euroleague experience.
Kyle Korver looked to be a lock to reunite with Deron Williams and AK-47 in Brooklyn early in free agency. Korver however found security in a four-year deal to remain a sharpshooting focus in the Hawks lineup. The contract might look a little heavy for a one-dimensional player such as Korver, but he was key member of last years team as a deadly option off of any screen and shooting ages well. DeMarre Carroll is a junk yard dog. He brings a little bit of grit and hustle to Atlanta in a contrasting role to Korver. A young forward with a nose for defense and rebounding Carroll is a value replacement for the recently released DeShawn Stevenson. With both pieces on board the Hawks look better at the small forward position than in years past. Mike Scott will back up the three and four positions and showed huge strides of improvement in the Summer League. After a rookie season where he struggled to get any minutes, Scott made the most of his time in Vegas averaging 18.6 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. It was impressive to see how active Scott was around the basket, getting multiple offensive put backs every game.
The decision to resign Jeff Teague was easy. The way the Hawks went about it were par for the new CBA. Why would the Hawks wish to outbid the market for Teague when they had the right to math any offer? Teague ended up feeling not wanted by the Hawks and signed an offer sheet with Milwaukee to reunite with Larry Drew. The Hawks of course matched the four-year deal locking up a valuable asset for the future who happens to be coming off of a career year. Watching Teague develop under Coach Bud is going to be fun over the next few years at the Highlight Factory. Coach Bud was instrumental in the development of Tony Parker and George Hill. Teague should excel in the multiple screen sets that Bud will bring with him from San Antonio. Another young player who should excel in the new motion sets is John Jenkins. In limited minutes as a rookie Jenkins showed that his skill set would translate to the pro game. He played extremely well in the Summer League running the new look offense. Playing a central role he averaged 18.0 points and 4.4 rebounds per game.
So enough Summer League talk without mention of the German that stole my basketball soul, Dennis Schroeder. Schroeder was a long rumored lottery pick after his impressive showing at the Nike Hoops Summit. The Hawks were rewarded by the basketball gods when Schroeder was there at number seventeen they quickly selected the young man with two years of pro experience at the tender age of nineteen. In Vegas, Schroeder showed a poise that would come with that experience. He got the Hawks into their sets early in the shot clock and looked poised on the pick and roll, setting up several lobs and easy finishes for teammates. Which weren’t always converted. The thing with Schroeder is the offense is in addition to his amazing defense. The Rondo comparisons are legit, he is freakishly long and uses change of pace dribble off the pick and roll to create. He will be one of the best on ball defenders at the point guard position for years to come. Throughout the Summer League he hounded opposing guards full court and pick pocketed several roster hopefuls shamelessly. What I would give to watch the first few practices with Teague and Schroeder battling out top.
I know. How can I go this long without mention of BeBe Nogueira? The man, the myth, the Hair. Nogueira is most likely not going to be playing stateside this season, the big man is most likely heading back to Spain to develop for another season. After an impressive showing in Vegas, it was obvious that BeBe could use a little more bulk on his 7 foot frame. He swatted a ton of shots coming from the weak side to help, but struggled to contain smaller stronger players on the block.
I had to pull out this retro ad because the NBA is “Where amazing happens.” A week before the playoffs the Spurs released Stephen Jackson causing many to wonder just what the front office was thinking. Fear not for R.C. Buford and Pop can do no wrong. It is amazing Tracy McGrady ,fresh of a season in the Chinese Basketball League, has signed with the San Antonio Spurs for the rest of the season.(per nba.com) Meaning he has a great chance of making it to the second round of the playoffs, which would mark the first time in his career for the former scoring champ. McGrady missed Houston’s trip to the second round in 2009 due to injury. T-Mac was a scoring machine and the precursor to Kevin Durant. A genetic lottery winner with handles and the athleticism that is world-class. His peak came in 2002-2003 for Orlando where he averaged 32.1 pt/gm, and was in all of the discussions of who’s league it was post peak Shaq. The Spurs will be McGrady’s 7th team since joining the league fresh out of high school in 1997-1998. Throughout his career there were rumors of T-Mac and Duncan uniting, be it in Orlando or San Antonio. With both careers winding down, lets hope the Spurs have a good run in them and T-Mac plays a big role in a game or two. Here is some prime T-Mac for old-times sake.