Hawks are different but will they be better?

Credit: Michael Cunningham

Credit: Michael Cunningham

In quick succession over the past two days the Hawks agreed to a deal with Jarrett Jack , saw their trade for Taurean Prince become official and got a pledge from Kris Humphries to return . That brings their roster to 17 players, 16 with guaranteed contracts.

The Hawks will have to get down to 15 players by the start of the regular season but, right now, here is my guess at what their depth will look like when they open the season:

SG: Tim Hardaway Jr., Kyle Korver, DeAndre Bembry

SF: Kent Bazemore, Thabo Sefolosha, Taurean Prince

PF: Paull Millsap, Kris Humphries, Mike Scott

C: Dwight Howard, Tiago Splitter, Edy Tavares

(My major assumptions here are that Bazemore will play the 3 and Mike Scott will not be in prison ).

My first impression is that rebounding, by far the biggest weakness for the 2015-16 Hawks, should be drastically improved. Howard no longer is the dynamic player he was in Orlando but he remains among the top rebounding big men in the game. Millsap, Humphries and Splitter are all good on the boards. That’s a good big rotation for rebounding.

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The Hawks' defense ranked No. 2 in efficiency last season and that shouldn't change much in 2015-16. Howard no longer is a defensive force but he's a strong rim protector. Spiitter is a good post defender, too, and I still believe he can help when healthy. The Hawks ranked worse than all but two teams in post defense efficiency last season; that should drastically next season. They still should get plenty of steals.

So the Hawks should be a bigger team that rebounds well and protects the paint. Those are not insignificant improvements, especially when you remember how the Cavaliers bullied the Hawks inside in the playoffs. But the main problem for the Hawks going on two seasons is inconsistent offense, especially when the chaos of the playoffs stifles pace-and-space , and I don't see how the 2015-16 roster will be any better at scoring.

Millsap is a good overall offensive player who so far is aging gracefully. Howard, Millsap and Splitter are all efficient post scorers who draw a lot of fouls. Korver had a bad year by his standards in 2015-16 but still shot nearly 40 percent on 3-pointers. Bazemore became a better shooter last season. Schroder already is a good playmaker with the potential to be better.

But that’s probably it for major offensive strengths for the Hawks. They lost one of their best play makers and 3-point shooters when they traded Jeff Teague. They lost one of the best shooting bigs in the league when Al Horford signed with the Celtics. There are plenty of potential weaknesses.

Opponents increasingly have been willing to sell out to prevent Korver from catching-and-shooting because he's a much less efficient shooter off the bounce. None of the Hawks' perimeter players get to the free-throw line much and all of them are turnover-prone (though Delaney is a wild card). Howard always has been a bad free-throw shooter and last season was his worst year yet.

Now that Schroder owns the point, it’s possible he can improve and mitigate some of the issues with the team's offense. He could play more under control and cut down on his turnovers. He might focus more on setting up his teammates, improve his jump shot and draw more fouls.

All of that would help but Schroder is just one player. Overall, I don’t see how the Hawks will be much better offensively in 2015-16 and it’s hard for them to get much better defensively. There’s been a lot of changes for the Hawks but I think that while they'll look different their results will be about the same. Second round is the ceiling.