After Jeff Teague’s ankle injury, the Atlanta Hawks have been on a bit of a slide, dropping three straight to the Nets, Jazz and Timberwolves. However, they did begin the season winning eight of 10. This week, devout ATLien Lang Whitaker, who writes and podcasts at NBA.com, joins us on our show to talk about the Hawks, who are seeking an encore performance to their memorable 60-win season from a year ago despite being overlooked coming into the season.
Notable sections include:
6:30-8:15: On Millsap’s sometimes understated impact on the team: “I thought last year, he was the most important player on the Hawks’ team. That shoulder injury he had right at the end of the regular season, he just never looked right to me in the postseason, and I thought that had as much of an effect as anything else did with the Hawks not doing well against Cleveland in the Eastern Conference Finals.”
9:25-10:30: Lang waxes poetic about Dennis Schroder’s potential and how he’s evolving: “He does a lot of stuff that I think he doesn’t know he’s not supposed to be able to do. He has a confidence that makes him a problem for other teams. Athletically there’s nothing he can’t do… He’s too young to know any better, and that’s what makes it fun to watch ‘cuz you never know what he’s gonna do. He’s got a lot of swag. He’s only 22. He’s going to be really good for a really long time in the NBA.”
15:10-15:30: On whether we can expect another historic shooting season for Korver coming off of an injury-riddled summer, Lang is not too confident, but adds, “The biggest advantage they have with Korver is that they have Mike Budenholzer, and he’s going to find ways to get Korver shots. Teams have made some adjustments this season. They’re all over him when he comes off screens and picks more so than they ever were last year. And I think, Budenholzer now, it’s in his hands, to try to figure out a way to shake him free.”
16:05-18:00: On the source of Kent Bazemore’s marked improvement this season, Lang points to a combination of trust from the coaching staff, his maturation as a player and a lot of hard work and player development behind the scenes. “I know that Bazemore put in a lot of work last year that we probably didn’t see. Games where he didn’t play, he might shoot after the game. I know one place the Hawks asked Bazemore to focus on was corner-3’s, and he’s been lights out from the corner, so that speaks to the work he’s put in.”
24:40-25:20: “What really speaks to the fact that these guys get along and are a real team was after all the ownership stuff that they went through last offseason and the stuff with the general manager and with people writing them off, they put together the best season in franchise history.”
Music: “Who Likes to Party?” by Kevin MacLeod