May 6, 2012; Boston, MA USA; The Atlanta Hawks bench watch from the sideline against the Boston Celtics in the fourth quarter of game four in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at the TD Garden. The Celtics defeated the Atlanta Hawks 101-79. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-US PRESSWIRE

NBA 2012 Offseason Grades: Atlanta Hawks

2011-12 Record: 40-26, second place in Southeast Division, eliminated in first round of NBA Playoffs by Boston Celtics

2012 NBA Draft: G John Jenkins (Vanderbilt, 23rd overall), F Mike Scott (Virginia, 43rd overall)

Offseason Additions: G Lou Williams (sign-and-trade with Philadelphia 76ers), G Devin Harris (acquired from Utah Jazz), G Anthony Morrow (acquired from Brooklyn Nets), G Kyle Korver (acquired from Chicago Bulls), G Jordan Farmar (acquired from Brooklyn Nets, G DeShawn Stevenson (sign-and-trade with Brooklyn Nets), F Jordan Williams (acquired from Brooklyn Nets), C Johan Petro (acquired from Brooklyn Nets)

Offseason Losses: G Kirk Hinrich (traded to Chicago Bulls), G Joe Johnson (traded to Brooklyn Nets), G Willie Green (traded to Los Angeles Clippers), G Jerry Stackhouse (signed with Brooklyn Nets), F Marvin Williams (traded to Utah Jazz), F Vladimir Radmanovic (signed with Chicago Bulls)

Resigned: N/A

Projected Starting Line-Up: PG Jeff Teague, SG Lou Williams, SF Josh Smith, PF Al Horford, C Zaza Pachulia

OFFSEASON GRADE: C +

You have to respect new General Manager Danny Ferry for coming on board and making an immediate impact on the layout of this basketball team, but are the Atlanta Hawks better than they were at the end of the 2012 season?

Not necessarily.

These offseason moves were made with the intent of making this Hawks team a contender…..in 2 to 3 years.

Atlanta had been swimming in mediocrity these past few seasons, being nothing more than first round and second round fodder to the stronger, more elite teams of the Eastern Conference. For Ferry, it was either continue going at that pace in hopes that this collection of players could somehow break on through and get over that hump to the Eastern Conference finals, or blow up the core, keep some integral pieces and begin anew.

That he did.

Joe Johnson and the remaining $89 million dollars (wow!) on his contract were shipped off to Brooklyn in exchange for numerous expiring contracts. The horribly underachieving Marvin Williams was also sent on his way to Utah for another player who has fallen off the basketball map quite a bit in Devin Harris.

Josh Smith and Al Horford immediately move up the pecking order as the new 1-2 scoring punch in Atlanta. Joe Johnson may have been the highest-paid on the roster and the multiple time all-star, but Smith/Horford were always the more talented players, in my opinion. Surrounding these 2 will be a plethora of newly acquired shooters in Kyle Korver, Anthony Morrow, DeShawn Stevenson and rookie John Jenkins who can all stretch the defense and hit three-pointers at a high rate.

It will be interesting to see what kind of impact the newly signed Lou Williams has as the teams (assumed) new starting shooting guard. Williams found success as the Philadelphia 76ers sixth man (and leading scorer) last season, but moving into a starting role where the pressure to perform will be far greater than what he experienced as a role player (perhaps a tad overhyped as well) in Philly could be a drastic change for Lou. His shooting numbers (40% during the regular season, 35% during the playoffs) are going to need to see some improvement as well.

Only 3 players will be under contract after the 2013 season. If desired, the Hawks could make a huge push for a big name free-agent like Dwight Howard or Chris Paul (with all that cap room, that should be the plan).

For now, this is a team that will continue to tread water in the Eastern Conference and be a middle-of-the-pack team. The moves made during this offseason may not make the Hawks a bigger threat to an NBA Championship as of now (let alone a better basketball team), but the ramifications of these moves could very well be felt in a few years if they land themselves a big name free-agent.

It’s all part of Ferry’s plan.

Christopher Walder is a sports blogger and lead editor for Sir Charles in Charge. You may follow him on Twitter @WalderSports

Tags: Al Horford Atlanta Hawks Danny Ferry Joe Johnson John Jenkins Josh Smith Kyle Korver Lou Williams NBA NBA 2013

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