Despite finishing six games under five-hundred, the Atlanta Hawks secured a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference even with star center Al Horford being sidelined for most of the season. The nearly pulled off the huge first round upset by taking the Indiana Pacers to seven games before being bounced. For the second straight summer, Atlanta possesses a good amount of cap space to reel in some more talent in hopes of making a move up the standings. Atlanta Hawks (38-44 last year)
2014-15 Projected Depth Chart:
C: Al Horford/Petro Antic/*Mike Muscala
PF: Paul Millsap/^Mike Scott/^Gustavo Ayon
SF: DeMarre Carroll SG: Kyle Korver/Lou Williams/John Jenkins
PG: *Jeff Teague/^Shelvin Mack/Dennis Schroeder
NBA Free Agents: ^PF-Mike Scott (RFA) ^PG-Shelvin Mack (RFA) ^PF-Gustavo Ayon (RFA) *C-Mike Muscala PF-Elton Brand (UFA) SF-Cartier Martin (UFA)
2014-15 Team Salary: approximately $48 million
1. Small Forward: DeMarre Carroll has established himself as a solid NBA glue guy but the Atlanta Hawks need to find a more potent offensive threat to bring off the bench at small forward. Kyle Korver can move to the three in a smaller line-up but I expect Atlanta to target a wing with the 15th overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. A couple names to keep an eye on are UCLA’s Kyle Anderson, Rodney Hood of Duke, and maybe if Kentucky’s James Young falls out of the lottery. If the Hawks go in a different direction with their draft pick, addressing this need is a must in free agency and the team has enough cap space to land a quality piece.
2. A Big: Al Horford’s season-ending injury left a huge hole in the middle for the Hawks. Even with Horford expected to be healthy next season, Atlanta should look for a defensive-minded big man who can come off the bench and provide a shot blocking presence since their current crop of bigs are more offensive oriented. If Danny Ferry feels last year’s first round pick Lucas Nogueira is ready to come to the NBA, he could possibly fill that role. However, the Brazilian likely needs another year of developing in Spain.
3. Spend Wisely: With an estimated $15 million of cap space this summer, the Hawks need to continue to spend wisely in free agency. They landed Millsap and Carroll at very reasonable rates last summer and also didn’t overspend on re-signing Jeff Teague or Korver. Keeping that trend moving forward will be essential for the team’s long-term success.
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David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities. David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Milwaukee to Honolulu. He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet (Yup, repeat champ… #humblebrag), and finished with the second most accurate 2013 NBA Mock Draft (nearly a three-peat.) You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.Powered by Sidelines Follow paulmbanks