Fantasy NBA Team Preview: Atlanta Hawks
I’m not a big fan of the Hawks, but mostly because they’re almost certain to be Eastern Conference playoff rivals for the Bulls this year and probably for some time to come. So, while it may appear that I don’t have their best interest in mind, I still think they should amnesty the hell out of Joe Johnson. Al Horford and Josh Smith both ended last season in the Top 25 on the Player Rater, so I’m okay with giving them their money, but we all knew that Johnson was not going to earn out on what the Hawks gave him.
Point Guard: Jeff Teague, Kirk Hinrich
Shooting Guard: Kirk Hinrich, Joe Johnson
Small Forward: Joe Johnson, Marvin Williams, Pape Sy
Power Forward: Josh Smith, Al Horford, Magnum Rolle
Center: Al Horford, Zaza Pachulia, Keith Benson
Everyone knows Jeff Teague needs to take over the PG position for Kirk Hinrich. Too bad for the Hawks, the only thing keeping Hinrich on the bench instead of playing Shooting Guard is his injured shoulder. Because of the contracts the Hawks have on the books for Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Al Horford, Marvin Williams, and Hinrich himself, they’re up to their beaks in salary, and there’s not much money left for the Hawks to spend on someone to replace Hinrich, let alone serve as any sort of upgrade. Perhaps that’s a little harsh for someone who was once a Top 50 fantasy player, but Hinrich’s best days are clearly behind him. They still need to sign a couple more guys to fill out the roster, but with what they have they’re not going to be any better than what you see above there on the Depth Chart. Hinrich is good enough for now, but good enough to win? Probably not. That said, do we care? No. We’re talking fantasy basketball here.
Back to Teague: he only played 13 minutes per game last season, but he did play 71 games, and that’s obviously enough to see him through this year’s shortened season. In the playoffs last year though, when he exploded against the Bulls, he played almost 40 minutes a game, shooting 51% from the field for close to 20 points to go with 4 assists and almost a steal a game. With Hinrich out until January, I would fully expect Teague to put up close to 20 with 4-5 assists and a steal.
Joe Johnson will probably start the season at SG until Hinrich gets back. Without much else in the way of Guards for a while, he’ll probably be playing 35-40 minutes per game and his numbers should match at least what he was doing last year. His points might be down again from the 18 he has last year (which was down from the 21 he’d been putting up the 3 years prior) due to Teague’s increased role on the team.
With Johnson starting at Guard, Marvin Williams will once again have the keys to the starting role at Small Forward. That means he’ll be just good enough to make you want to draft him again this year (you know you think about it every year).
Then there’s Josh Smith at the other Forward position. Anyone think he’s going to stop doing what he’s been doing his whole career? Nope. The only thing that’s going to slow him down is if the CBA included a provision for adjustable basketball hoops. 15 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 1+ steals, 1.5-2 blocks. That’s Top 25 right there. If he can get his FG% back to 50 and maintain his FT% (or maybe the longer off-season gave him an opportunity to work on his free throws shooting), he might end up as a first round caliber player. There’s a lot of good first round choices ahead of him this year, though, so make a realistic pick when it comes to Smith. While I’m generally risk averse, even if I wasn’t I wouldn’t count on Josh Smith’s upside potential over the solid potential of any first rounders this year.
Last year, I thought Horford was going to put up 20 and 10. Given what he actually put up, I’d say we’re looking at another 15 and 9 season this time around. Close to 1 steal and maybe more than 1 block. Over 50% from the field and close to 80% from the line.
Fantasy Draft Recommendations (Updated 12/3)
Al Horford – 2nd Round
Josh Smith – 3rd Round
Joe Johnson – 5th Round
Jeff Teague – I would put him as high as the 8th round. Right now, he’s going in the 13th round according to Yahoo’s ADP chart. I’m not sure whether than means everyone out there knows more or less than I do about the Hawks, but if you can snag him in the last round, you’ll have the steal of the draft.
Marvin Williams – Draftable in larger than standard size leagues