Can the Hawks be a better defensive team?
There is not a lot of room for improvement but Hawks coaches and players believe recent lineup changes and roster additions can make a different this season.
The Hawks were second in the NBA last season with a defensive efficiency rating of 98.8. Only the Spurs were better with a rating of 96.6.
Most notably is the addition of Dwight Howard at center – the rim protector the team has longed to have in the rotation. The team sees Dennis Schroder has a defensive upgrade over Jeff Teague at the point guard. There is also the addition of wing players in first-round draft picks Taurean Prince and DeAndre Bembry to add to the team depth.
Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer was asked about the possibility of improving on a second-ranked defense by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Here is his response.
AJC: I’m curious about the defense this year. You have been very good in previous years but now you add to it. Tiago Splitter told me you are going to be even better defensively. Do you see it that way? That you can be even better than where you have been statistically?
Budenholzer: It’s kind of strange to look at it in a statistical context when you are the second-best defense. There is only one spot to move up. I would love to be the best defensive team in the league. But if you put the stats aside, I do feel like we can be better defensively. I guess that should translate to some statistical metric but I think Dwight’s impact on the game defensively can be unique and special. I think Dennis, as a starting point guard, especially as he is young (defense) is his calling card. You add Taurean to the mix and DeAndre, I definitely feel like there is the potential for this to be one of the best defensive teams in the league. That is what we have prioritized from the very beginning.