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.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be previewing each position group, starting with the point guards.
Last Season’s Stats
Dennis Schröder: 31.5 MPG, 45.1 FG%, 34.0 3P%, 85.5 FT%, 3.1 RPG, 6.3 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.2 BPG, 3.3 TOPG, 1.9 PFPG, 17.9 PPG
Malcolm Delaney: 17.1 MPG, 37.4 FG%, 23.6 3P%, 80.6% FT%, 1.7 RPG, 2.6 APG, 0.5 SPG, 0.0 BPG, 1.3 TOPG, 1.5 PFPG, 5.4 PPG
Quinn Cook (14 games with DAL and NOP): 13.4 MPG, 50.0 FG%, 42.3 3P%, 40.0 FT%, 0.5 RPG, 1.9 APG, 0.3 SPG, 0.0 BPG, 0.9 TOPG, 0.9 PFPG, 5.6 PPG
One of the young core pieces on this roster is lightning quick point guard Dennis Schröder. Entering into his 5th season with the Hawks after being drafted 16th overall by the Hawks in 2013, Schröder looks to take his game to the next level in his second season leading the team, following the trade of Jeff Teague to Indiana during the offseason of 2016.
Schröder has put up consistently good counting stats throughout his career, but in relatively inefficient means, having nearly 3 turnovers per game and shooting 34.0% from behind the arc, while taking a lot of pull-up 3’s, which, statistically, is one of the most inefficient shots in basketball. He will undoubtedly lead the Hawks in scoring and assists this season, but the real question for Schröder, and the next step for him to become a league-average starter, is if his efficiency can improve distributing the ball and shooting from behind the arc.
Malcolm Delaney, in his 2nd season after playing for 5 seasons in Europe for 4 different clubs, the most recent being the Russian club Lokomotiv Kuban, is an old second year player at 29 years old. Last season, his counting stats weren’t necessarily impressive, but his game control and levelheadedness was quite impressive for a player who was getting his NBA feet wet at such an advanced age for a rookie.
That game control will be very important for the Hawks next season, who need a true secondary ball handler that isn’t named Kent Bazemore, who struggled in that role for the Hawks last season. The goal for Delaney, in his contract season, is to show that he can be a competent NBA rotation ball handler, and to improve on his low 3P% from last season.
Delaney was known as a dead-eye shooter while he was in Europe, but that shot didn’t necessarily translate from the FIBA line to the NBA line at nearly the same rate. Look for Delaney to spell Schröder throughout the season, and carve out a specific niche as a secondary ball handler in the Hawks offense, in the hopes that he can earn a payday from teams that need that type of player in the offseason of 2018.
Quinn Cook has had a very interesting path to the NBA, coming out of Duke, where he won a national championship in 2015. After graduating from Duke, he ended up playing multiple stints in the G-League (god, I am never going to get used to saying that) and earning multiple 10-day contracts near the end of last season with Dallas and New Orleans, where he impressed in limited minutes.
He was picked up by New Orleans to play in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, where he started throughout the competition. He impressed enough to earn a fully guaranteed contract with the Hawks in the offseason of 2017, but don’t look for him to play much except in garbage time at the end of games.
His role is more accurately described as insurance in case of an injury to Schröder or Delaney, but if he impresses the coaching staff enough, he could realistically earn his way onto the floor. That’s a longshot, however, so don’t expect too much action from Cook early on.
The point guard position for the Hawks is one of the stronger positions on the team, and the position is crucial to the Hawks’ success for the 2017-18 season.
If Dennis Schröder can continue developing his jumpshot and decision-making processes, he can have a career season for the Hawks. Add in Delaney as a solid backup option and Cook as a developmental piece and you have a group that is capable of being a mid-tier backcourt in today’s guard-driven NBA.