ESPN’s Pelton gives the Hawks offseason a flat ‘C’

The sky’s not falling. Neither are the shots. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

The sky's not falling. Neither are the shots. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Mike Budenholzer: Now the man in charge. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Here’s the list of the Eastern Conference teams that Kevin Pelton of ESPN Insider credits as having had a better offseason than the Atlanta Hawks: Boston, Brooklyn, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Miami, Milwaukee, New York, Orlando, Philadelphia, Toronto and Washington.

If you’re counting, that’s 12 teams Pelton grades higher than the Hawks’ “C.” There are 15 teams in the NBA East. Only one — Charlotte — had an offseason Pelton adjudges as worse than the team that finished first in the conference last season. Lest we forget, these latest Hawks’ moves were the work of the new managerial team of Mike Budenholzer and Wes Wilcox.

This isn’t to say that the Hawks are apt to finish 14th in the East next season. They’re still a very good team. I’m just not sure they’ll be as good as they were when winning 60 games. (I’ve mentioned as much.)

Pelton stipulates that the Hawks couldn’t afford to keep both Paul Millsap and DeMarre Carroll and gives them a pass on losing Carroll. Here’s his assessment of what else they’ve done:

Atlanta tried to find the next Carroll by signing (Justin) Holiday, whose skill set is a 3-and-D starter kit. The Hawks used the money they saved to add (Tiago) Splitter, who gives their frontcourt an entirely different look. But trading a first-round pick for (Tim) Hardaway (Jr.), a poor defender whose shooting hasn’t been as good as advertised in the NBA, looks like a bad gamble.

I don’t fault the Hawks for not moving money around to pay Carroll the $60 million over four seasons he got from Toronto. (He’s a good player, but he’s not that good.) Trouble is, new ownership has said it’s banking on continuity, and without even the one non-All-Star from the famous starting five, I’m not sure that continuity can be reproduced.

It’s weird. The system that made the Hawks as individuals look better than they’d ever looked now must compensate for the loss of a guy who was one of five ideal fits in that system. Maybe there’s another such fit on this roster, and maybe it’s Justin Holiday. But I have my doubts.

Reader Comments 0

53 comments
big_lott
big_lott

um, the hawks finished #1 in the east, with 60 wins...we still got teague, horford, milsap, and our 3 point specialist!!!! add splitter...we will be fine...


when you are on top, there is not a lot to improve on....


so what we lost demarre carroll? the metrix said that he got 80% of his points off assists, meaning that he cant create his own shots. 


QUIT BEING LAME ARSE BANDWAGON FANS....THIS TEAM IS FINE...plus we will have sefalosha back...

Coops21
Coops21

Sounds about right.  All they did was overpay Milsap and gave the Spurs an assist.

Kensdobs
Kensdobs

@Coops21 That's a very narrow minded view of the situation. Splitter is a major OFF & DEF upgrade over any C or PF we had coming off the bench last yr. And why are fans worried about us overpaying for a key player who's production couldn't have been replaced by anyone we could have acquired in FA or the draft?


The goal is to improve & not take a step back, not to worry about how much we paid to get the player we definitely needed. Milsap actually took less from us to resign than he was offered by Orlando. 

Kensdobs
Kensdobs

@Coops21 @Kensdobs  Yes I do. As I've said already, Splitter is a major upgrade over Brand or Antic, both offensively & defensively. He's also more versatile, as he can play PF & C, & he's a much better rebounder & inside scorer & defender as well. Hardaway & Holiday give us more size, depth, versatility, DEF & shooting at the wing positions than Jenkins & Bazemore gave us last yr.


We were so thin at the wing last yr that SMack was often used at SG after Sefolosha went down & Basemore became our backup SF. Tavares is a work in progress, but his exceptional height & wing span makes him a definite asset in critical situations when protecting the rim against penetration is a must. He's a much better option in this situation than Brand or Antic. Hardaway & Holiday are both healthy, as well as bigger & more versatile than JJenkins, who I really wanted us to keep.


Sefolosha will most likely start at SF, unless Hardeway, Bazemore or Holiday have breakout camps. Sefolosha is a DEF improvement over Carroll  versatility wise, as he can play SG/SF & is a better ball handler & penetrator. His last yr with the Thunder he hit over 41% of his 3's. I believe his rebounding & scoring will improve in our OFF with consistent starter mins. You can bet Teague & Schroder will be improved, & I expect the same from Bazemore & Muscala.


If we've improved our size, height, youth, depth, rebounding, interior OFF/DEF & rim protection capabilities, as well as our scoring, 3pt shooting, DEF & wing depth, along with the expected internal player improvement(Teague/Schroder/Bazemore/Muscala, how could you not consider this yrs team a major  improvement over last yrs team?


In the playoffs, without Sefolosha, after Korver went down, & with Carroll virtually playing on one leg, our lack of wing shooting, scoring, DEF, rebounding & depth were totally exposed. With Antic, Brand, Scott & Muscala as our only backup Centers & PFs, our total lack of rebounding, interior DEF & rim protection off the bench was totally exposed.  We've already added 2 young versatile wings(Hardaway & Holiday) in addition to Basemore, & we've added 2 younger, taller upgrades(Splitter & Tavares) along our frontline to go with Muscala.


The only way I can see anyone not seeing these additions & upgrades as improvements is if someone has a major man crush on DCarroll & is over stating or over valuing his loss.

Kensdobs
Kensdobs

I loved DCarroll as much as anyone & it really hurt when I found out he had signed with Toronto, but I understood considering the money he was offered. But I just don't get the puzzlement everyone seems to how we'll replace him. After all, we're talking about a SF that averaged 12.6PPG. If all things work out with Sefolosha as planned, & obviously the Hawks brain trust are confident that it will, he'll be our starting SF.


I compared Carroll's 2014-15 stats to Sefolosha's 2013-14 stats, since that was the last yr he started.


        MIN     PPG     FG%     3PT%     REB     AST     STL    FGA 


DC     31.3     12.6     .487       .395       5.3       1.7       1.39    9.3


TS     27.5      5.8       .481       .419      3.9        1.5       1.27    5.8



As you can see there's really not a big difference in their overall stats. You must consider the fact that Sefolosha played SG, which probably had some effect on his rebounding average. Playing steady mins, playing in our OFF, & playing SF, should improve his rebounding, scoring & assists. Defensively, he's actually considered a better defender than Carroll. Having played SG, he's a better ball handler & penetrator than Carroll as well.


I have no doubt that coach Bud & Co looked at these same factors when making the moves they made in the draft & FA, since they didn't try to bring in anyone from the outside to replace Carroll. By bringing in Hardaway & Holiday, they loaded up on backup shooting & DEF for the wing positions to go with Bazemore. We no longer have to rely exclusively on Bazemore, Schroeder or Mack as SGs like last yr.


The combination of Sefolosha & Holiday at SF will definitely equal or exceed Carroll's DEF & OFF production. The addition of Splitter is a major upgrade over Antic at C or Scott at PF off the bench. He's a major upgrade off the bench as far as rebounding, inside scoring, DEF, & rim protection. Muscala should be an upgrade over last yrs Muscala, & should give us more overall production then we got from Antic & Brand. Tavares will likely end up being the EBrand of the bench, getting mins in blowouts & critical situations that requires rim protection.


Even without Carroll, this will be a bigger, taller, more physical, better DEF & OFF, deeper, more athletic, younger & overall better team than last yrs team.

WaltBBall
WaltBBall

Here's how the bandwagon works, either one is on it or not.  The HAWKS could possibly be a better team than last season, here's why (1)A better understanding of the offensive sets which means by bringing in Splitter coach Bud has a stronger inside game and a player who understands those schemes and with P. Milsap playing SF who has a strong inside game will dominate the average SF because of his strength and athleticism and if Paul happens to drop 15 - 20lbs he could own the SF position.


(2) One cannot underestimate coach Bud who understands that an inside game is crucial for team success because it opens the floor for our shooters.  Tiago will add about 7 more rpg and big Al should be a double/double this season, i'm expecting that, in any case the HAWKS are bigger,and longer on the boards and stronger with Milsap as the SF, plus big Al sgould be a better 3 point shooter this season an put Paul in that category as well his percentages should increase from 3 pt range, just a fact.


Thabo has something to prove this season and he will succeed.  Hardaway and Holiday should thrive in coach Buds system and both are more athletic an better shooters than DMC, if their work ethic is just as dedicated as DMC then the HAWKS have two outstanding players.  Muscala is ready to contribute offensively and defensively, look for a breakout season from the "MOOSE."  J. Teague an Dennis the menace are too talented to remain status quo, their games will be stronger and more productive this coming season and as far as Kyle Korver I give him a high five, who knew he had elbo issues?


The HAWKS got to the ECF last season, they learned what it takes to succeed and that will translate into a better team this season.  S. Mack and M. Scott best be ready at summer camp, B. Ansley is hungry, Terran Pettaway has skills an Glenn Robinson will make the team and he should flourish in coach Buds offense.  I'm on the bandwagon win, lose and or draw and as far as i'm concerned a 60 win season is not out of reach because the decisions made by coach Bud an Wilcox were brilliant.


GO HAWKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



Wink77
Wink77

Who cares about ESPN rating...I just want results.  Congrats to DMC for getting a career contract, he improved his game and got paid for putting in the work.  Now we have an opening in our starting five at the small forward.  The Hawks have signed Hardaway & Holiday with one open spot on the roster.  Historically, we have been a small team, so we signed Tavares & Splitter and sent Mucala to the D League to work on his game, while Horford is preparing possibly to play major minutes at PF.

So we addressed our two major concerns....wing players & getting bigger.  So let's talk about the ELEPHANT in the room, what was not addressed. 

 Although we got bigger, where is the BEEF, they will still get pushed around on the offensive & defensive boards.  Also, if we are going to use this HEIGHT the offensive philosophy will have to change and not bail out after a shot goes up, they will have to crash the boards. My concern is that they will not make this adjustment, because of the system.

Also, will Hardaway & Holiday make one DMC... and who will be our Shooting Guard!  Will Korver bounce back healthy & regain his starting job.  Will he find his stroke...we can't have him as a starter, playing 34 minutes and take only 5 shots. If so he needs to play off the bench with the 2nd unit. It not like he going to change his game this late in his career and drive the basketball.  If not Korver, was Hardaway brought in to fill this role?  Explosive off the dribble, but can he shoot the 3 as good as DMC, can he play in tandem with Korver to add another offensive threat?  Is Holiday going to be our Junk Yard Dog? 

With only one roster spot will Glenn Robinson III, Pettaway, or Brandon Ashley get a real shot at making the team to fill the SF position vacated by DMC.  Lamar Patterson deserves a look at 6'5" he led the team in scoring as a guard. All can score and played well in summer league games.  I know it was Summer League, but when do we start looking for our Khawi Leonard....infusion of fresh legs with talent!  Our draft picks can't seem to stick so we trade them or give them away like sprinkles on top....and  you know sprinkles are for Winners!

sbatl
sbatl

Yeah, and last year they predicted us to get an 8th seed. ESPN writers are lazy journalists and only go after the big name players and teams because they will get the most clicks and higher ratings. After seeing a team go from the 8th seed two years ago, to the first seed last season, all without adding a major player (i.e. Lebron James), I put my faith in Coach Bud. 

PleaseHawks
PleaseHawks

We got a c+ last year, how'd that turn out? 60 wins and a trip to the ECF. Thanks, but no thanks for your terrible assessment there Kevin

ATL89
ATL89

We also have to remember that this is the first time Coach Bud has held the title as President of Basketball Operations, and this is still the early stages of his career as a head coach, so be patient because he is going to take his lumps as he becomes one of the Head Coaching Greats.

ATL89
ATL89

Well, let's just hope that Coach Bud can methodically become to the NBA, what Bill Belichcik is to the NFL.

BLowE12
BLowE12

Maybe his grade Includes the New Uniforms. Everyone knows an "F" brings down your overall grade average.. 

Dirtyb8
Dirtyb8

Well I give us a big fat "A+" so every other grades and opinions by others are irrelevant. 

Dear Patriotdog..............


Excellent, you are RIGHT on and the Hawks can look forward to another 40 years on ineptness because of the stupid decision.


But do not just give all the credit to Bradley and Schultz. Cunningham was the worst of all of them.


I know they do not actually pay Cunningham, if they do then anything is possible.



GeorgeJetsen
GeorgeJetsen

To continue progress from last season Hawks must at least win the ECF. I don't see that happening with this roster. If team goes backwards the empty seats at Philips will quickly return.

patriotdog
patriotdog

ESPN writers usually don't know jack about their content. The Worldwide Leader is yesterday's news. Having said that, it won't surprise me if the team takes a big step backwards. Bradley and Schultz led the media charge to run Ferry off, even when it was reported from day one that he wasn't the author of the infamous 'Luol Deng letter'. Then low and behold, one of the Washington based Spirit group idiots reveals that in fact, it was not Ferry, as we knew all along, that was the racist in the crowd. Voila! The Hawks best chance at consistent excellence is flushed out of town in a cesspool of innuendo and untruth that was started by the inept, lazy media in this town and Coach Bud will now find himself over his head as he tries to build a team AND coach it. Good luck, Mike.

Mitch36
Mitch36

Off-Season Grades are meaningless. In a way i am glad the Hawks are still somewhat under the radar---because it keeps them hungry and focused. Coach Bud is building quite a culture and while DC will be missed, in getting bigger and more physical up front, we could see a much improved fast break that will keep teams on their heels. The speedy tandem of Teague and Schroeder is growing onto something special---and I think the Hawks will be more aggressive on both ends---we've only just begun to see how good this team can be.

Big Wally
Big Wally

I'm just curious about the Hawks evaluation of Hunter was in the draft.  Seems like he would have been a better gamble than THJ once they started moving back.  I know his shooting percentages are bad, but he has range from a mile away, plus the size to play SG.  They must have saw something that told them they couldn't improve his accuracy that much.  Coach Bud will not look very good if Hunter turns into a player, and THJ is playing for the Beirut Bearcats in 3 years.  Bud better hope Portis doesn't turn into a player either, he passed on him twice.

PeachtreeBart
PeachtreeBart

We could be looking at the '99 Falcons with the 2015-16 hawks.  At least the '98 Falcons made the Super Bowl. 

pride
pride

bulldogsteve - Georgia Bulldogs are experts on hoop, LOL. 3 starters playing hurt (Teague, Millsap & Korver) and still made the finals.

Big Wally
Big Wally

@pride True, but let's be fair on the other side.  Cleveland swept us with basically 2 of their starters not playing, and played J.R. Smith, Shumpert and Delavadova significant minutes, which none of those 3 are quality players.  Not having Thabo hurt a lot also, but the Hawks in the playoffs, were not the same team as regular season.  I don't think it is what Cleveland did to us necessarily, but what we did to ourselves.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@pride

Still made the finals?

Would've been nice, but it's never happened.

Golden State faced Cleveland, and you know the rest of the story.

bulldogsteve
bulldogsteve

If the Hawks first two opponents in the playoffs were full strength, they would have lost those rounds. Then they were totally exposed in the playoffs. Plus the only player who raised his game in the playoffs is gone. It was fun while it lasted. They gave the keys to the city to the wrong person. Making Bud President after only being here two seasons is way beyond crazy. They make the playoffs next year and lose in the first round.

kevkat
kevkat

@bulldogsteve


Hmmm, if I'd played the right Lotto numbers, I'd be a millionaire. If the Cavs were at full strength they would've beaten the Warriors. The bottom line is I didn't win millions and the Warriors are the NBA champions. They were totally exposed in the playoffs, yet lost in the conference finals. Yea, I'd be skeptical too giving the keys to a guy who took a bunch of average players (without their best defensive player) to 60 wins and a conference finals. Yea, wouldn't take a chance with that guy.  Give me a break!

DawgNole
DawgNole

@bulldogsteve: "If the Hawks first two opponents in the playoffs were full strength, they would have lost those rounds."

_____________________

Well, that would've been a first. I don't believe any team has ever lost two rounds in the NBA playoffs. 

pride
pride

Mark Bradley and most of you commenters/bloggers are clearly sore losing Knick fans. You all really do know what losing is all about.


A sixty win conference champ doesn't need many changes.  We lost one terrific piece of our team and replaced DC with 3 possibilities.  We were a bit undersized and added Splitter.


Let's play ball

MikeS777
MikeS777

I'm not really surprised.  ESPN treated the Hawks like the cute little brother all year last year instead of a legit contender.  They were even picked to lose first round.  I give the Hawks a B+ for this offseason:

1)  They were not going to get Aldridge or Jordan. So they did the next best thing and sign Milsap.  Not only that, they got him on just a 3 year deal with a player option on that third year.   They didn't wrap themselves up long term.

2)  They traded for Tiago Splitter.  Splitter should be a huge upgrade inside over Antic for a team who's real weakness was rebounding.  If Muscala continues to improve as he showed last year, they should be a lot better inside.

3)  The Hardaway Jr. trade is not that bad of a deal.  You get a guy who's been in the league for a couple of years and shown some explosive ability.  He plays very well in space which fits right in with the Hawks' system.  His D does have to get better, but the culture here could be exactly what Hardaway needs.  They traded a low first round pick for him which rarely is going to end up being a game changing player for a team right away.

4)  They got two future second round picks by trading down with Washington.

5)  They didn't get wrapped up in giving Carroll too much money.   I agree with you Mark.  He's good, but not that kind of good.  In years past, the Hawks would have made the mistake of overpaying for him.

They didn't land a superstar, but they improved inside, and did the best they could to make up for Carroll leaving.

SeanLB
SeanLB

@MikeS777 This is the most sound analysis on this thread - blog included.  Couldn't agree more.


We weren't going to land a superstar and did what we could to find more "system players".  Until one of the big players wants to come to Atlanta, this is the only way we'll be able to compete.  I'm fine with our offseason.  

kevkat
kevkat

@GirlieGurley


C'mon Gurley, you're history. If anything these additions will make him better. He gets needed rest and should be sharper when he's in the game.

58Supersports
58Supersports

What they deserve after the PC idiots and media ran Ferry out of town.... New owner  had no ba**s to stand up for Ferry.

Sautee
Sautee

I don't remember last year's grade, but I'm certain it was likely worse than a C. But look what happened.


It's good to remember that these writers are just trying to fill space.

JackClemens
JackClemens

@Sautee Good point Sautee. And, by the way, I love the birch beer at your country store.

WaltBBall
WaltBBall

DF put a winning combo together with coach Bud and if you think Wilcox, Bud an DF didn't chit chat then somethings wrong.  The system is the key and you need players that fit it.  DMC is my boy, I hate to see him leave but it was the system that produced Kyle Korver, J. Teague, P. Milsap and DMC who was essentially a journeyman before signing with the HAWKS.


I understand why DMC took the money an ran and he may and I hope he does well, thing is, the HAWKS kept egos in check and the NBA is somewhat ego driven, it has to be for some players who will put in the work necessary to be decent, good and great.  I remember when P. Milsap an DMC were signed two years ago and no one expected the outcome that we witnessed.


I trust coach Buds system, it works and it has been upgraded on the wings.  Hardaway is an explosion waiting to happen, the system could make him a superstar.  Tiago Splitter is very good with his moves down low and he bangs, everyone has wanted big Al to play PF, the wish has come true and I do believe P. Milsap will drop a few lbs to play SF an he will be effective.


Last season the sports gurus had the HAWKS as middle of the road, they were wrong last season and they are wrong now.  J. Holiday could be something special, we don't know until we see what the system produces but so far the system has proven to work.  I see the HAWKS as bigger, longer and their skill set will be much improved this season.  M. Muscala is gonna be the bomb.  Do not listen to the gurus, they blew it last season an blowin it now.  The HAWKS will bring a more exciting season.


GO HAWKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

WhopperDawg
WhopperDawg

Trading essentially the 16th for Hardaway boggles the mind. I bet Phil Jackson had a parade after that deal.

dirtybird33
dirtybird33

They fired the guy who put the whole thing together. They'll never be more than an average NBA squad. This franchise is moribund with Dominique and his cronies controlling the front office. What a joke!

WW5
WW5

under promise and over deliver

Marquis James
Marquis James

Won't win 60 but maybe 50...Bulls Cavs Heat are stacked....I'll take 50 wins

kevkat
kevkat

@Marquis James


I'll agree with the Cavs and Heat being somewhat stacked, but the Bulls? The injury prone Bulls? Hmmm, I'd actually take the Raptors or Wizards ahead of the Bulls.

SomewherenSGa
SomewherenSGa

Grades... they have no idea it's just guesses