Trying to recover from losing one star player is extremely difficult in the current state of the NBA. Trying to recover from losing two is nearly impossible. Trying to recover from losing four All-Stars over the course of three offseasons? Never been done before.
The Atlanta Hawks are trying to do the impossible and recover from the losses of four All Stars from their 2014-15 roster (Al Horford, Paul Millsap, Jeff Teague, and Kyle Korver), and they have some young prospects as well as wily veterans that might make the Hawks, led by one of the best tacticians in the league in Mike Budenholzer, a sneaky playoff contender in a weak Eastern Conference.
Continuing on with our series, we’ll focus on the shooting guard position.
Last Year’s Stats
Kent Bazemore: 26.9 MPG, 40.9 FG%, 34.6 3P%, 70.8 FT%, 3.2 RPG, 2.4 APG, 1.2 SPG, 0.7 BPG, 1.7 TOPG, 2.3 PFPG, 11.0 PPG
Marco Bellineli (74 games with Charlotte): 24.0 MPG, 42.9 FG%, 36.0 3P%, 89.3 FT%, 2.4 RPG, 2.0 APG, 0.6 SPG, 0.1 BPG, 0.9 TOPG, 1.2 PFPG, 10.5 PPG
Tyler Dorsey (39 college games with Oregon): 30.0 MPG, 46.7 FG%, 42.3 3P%, 75.5% FT%, 3.5 RPG, 1.7 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.1 BPG, 1.5 TOPG, 1.5 PFPG, 14.6 PPG
One of the longest tenured players on the Hawks roster, and arguably the team’s most vocal leader, is Kent Bazemore. Known for his “Baze Gaze”, Bazemore has become of the fan favorites amongst the mostly new players on this current construction of the Hawks’ roster. His rise from benchwarmer on the pre-championship Warriors to key bench player on a 60-win team to a starter now getting paid nearly $17 million dollars per year is a story of triumph and hard work.
However, Bazemore has seen a bit of a regression between his contract season and his first year of his new deal. His shooting percentages went down from 2 seasons ago to last season, and he took more attempts last season, which contributed to that decline, but he also struggled with decision-making due to his increased role as a ball handler when both Dennis Schröder and Malcolm Delaney were off the floor. The goal this season for Bazemore is to go back to what got him to this point in his career and become an elite 3 and D player, which is a role that should suit him just fine.
Undoubtedly the best piece that the Hawks received in the Dwight Howard trade over the offseason was Marco Bellineli. The 31-year-old shooting guard from Italy has had quite the NBA journey, playing for 8 different NBA teams in 11 seasons. His skill set is quite valuable to certain teams as a role player, simply because he can shoot the ball at a high rate of efficiency. Bellineli is one of the only shooters on this current Hawks roster, so he will have a definite role as a bench shooter, but outside of shooting, he doesn’t really excel at much else.
That lack of diversity in his game makes it hard to see him as a starter for this season, but he will be an important player for the first half of the season, and if the Hawks aren’t on track to make the playoffs, look for a playoff team in need of shooting to come calling for his services via trade, given that Bellineli is not under contract after this season.
One of the Hawks’ draft picks in the 2017 NBA Draft was Tyler Dorsey. A standout guard for a Final Four squad at Oregon, Dorsey was one of the vocal leaders as a sophomore, alongside Chris Boucher, Jordan Bell and Payton Pritchard. He was known to be a shooter at Oregon, shooting 42.3% from behind the arc, but his scoring punch can be felt all over the floor. Dorsey doesn’t project to be much more than a rare contributor in garbage time in his first season, so look for him to be with the G-League affiliate Erie Bayhawks for the majority of the upcoming season.
The Hawks’ shooting guard rotation, led by Kent Bazemore, is a very specialized group of players with not a lot of versatility. The shooting of Bellineli makes this group serviceable in that area, but Bazemore needs to return to the level that he was at in his contract season to make this group relatively dangerous from behind the arc. Look for Bazemore to be the starter day 1, with Bellineli coming off of the bench, making spot starts here and there.