ESPN projects that the Atlanta Hawks will finish with the worst record in the 2017-18 season. Atlanta suffered some major blows during this past offseason with the departures of Paul Millsap, Dwight Howard, and other notable pieces. With a rebuild officially started in Atlanta, a decrease in their win total is likely. The Hawks probably will not qualify for the playoffs, but I do not believe the Hawks will be the franchise with the worst record next season either.
Hawks fans can expect to see a very young team that has talent next season. Due to a young roster that will likely struggle with inconsistency, the Hawks will likely end up with at least one lottery pick via their own 2018 pick.
Though the Hawks will struggle, I expect the worst team in the NBA to either be the Indiana Pacers, Chicago Bulls, or Sacramento Kings. The Pacers lost Jeff Teague and Paul George, and Victor Oladipo will not be able to carry Indiana’s supporting cast to the playoffs. The Chicago Bulls have one of the youngest rosters in the NBA, but they will use next season to see the potential in their prospects, likely meaning a lot of losses and them qualifying for a top pick in next year’s draft. The Kings also have a lot of young talent, but the Western Conference is too loaded for them to have a winning record.
The Atlanta Hawks may have lost Millsap and Howard, but Dennis Schroder will step up as the primary scorer next season. I projected for Schroder to score 20 points per game last season, which he almost fulfilled with an average of 17.9 points per game during the 2016-17 season. However, with Atlanta’s current roster, the lack of scoring options almost guarantees Schroder will average 20 points per game this season.
With many key contributors gone, fans will be able to see Atlanta’s young, talented prospects quite regularly. One player that I expect to progress significantly next year is Taurean Prince. Prince initially came off the bench last season but eventually worked his way into the starting lineup by the end of the season. With more playing time available and Atlanta lacking proven scoring options, Prince will likely average at least 15 points per game next season.
Atlanta will struggle to win games next season. It’s highly unlikely for a team to lose such talented pieces and still be competitive. However, I strongly believe that Atlanta’s roster is still too talented to be the worst team in the NBA in 2017-18.
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