Editor’s note: This is a guess post from Justin Becker of FantasyBasketballMoneyLeagues.com. You can follow him on twitter at @NBAFantasyInfo, and for more information on the NBA visit Fantasy Basketball Money Leagues – your online source for anything about fantasy basketball.
The Atlanta Hawks are certainly doing well this season. After a very active summer, where the team parted ways with its star forward Josh Smith, but also stole Paul Millsap, the Hawks have started off pretty well this season, at least for the Eastern Conference standards.
They currently just one game above .500, holding an 20-19 record, but they also sit as the third seed of the weak Eastern Conference. The question for them now, after the season-ending injury to Al Horford, is what should they do to their roster moving forward? Should they give away one of their assets and trade for a center, going full-speed for the playoffs? Or should they instead stand pat and focus on the future?
It’s true that Horford’s pectoral injury proved to be very costly for Atlanta — it was expected to be that way after all. Even though the Hawks have some backup options at the center spot, no one can really replace the dynamics Horford brought to the team.
Prior to his injury, the 27-year old big man was averaging a team-high 18.6 points per contest to go along with 8.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.5 blocks in the 29 games he played. He also shot 56.7 percent from the floor, but his essence to the Hawks went much deeper than that. He provided leadership to the team. He was the bond between the new members of the squad and the older ones.
With that said, the Hawks aren’t exactly playing bad without him. On the contrary, the team has managed to sustain a good level of competiveness. Nonetheless, it’s obvious that neither Elton Brand nor Pero Antic, or any other replacement for that matter, can fill the shoes of Horford. All the backup options the Hawks possess are serviceable, but they are good backups, not starters.
The Atlanta Hawks managed to bring together a very capable roster this summer. Despite losing Josh Smith (who signed with the Detroit Pistons last offseason), they brought in Paul Millsap (who came over from Utah), who instantly built chemistry with Horford. With Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver in the lineup, too, the Hawks were more than just a good team; they set the foundation for even greater things to come.
Atlanta holds some valuable draft picks over the next few years and they also have youngsters like John Jenkins and Dennis Schroeder in their arsenal, who could turn out to be significant members of the team going forward.
But now, they will have to decide if they want to initiate a trade for a starting center and focus on this season, or not. The biggest asset Atlanta currently has to form a deal is Lou Williams and his two-year $10.6 million contract. It would be very difficult for Hawks GM Danny Ferry to trade away Williams, but it would be an even more difficult decision to trade away youngsters like Schroeder or Jenkins.
The Hawks could target several big men — Kosta Koufos from the Memphis Grizzlies is one potential target, once Marc Gasol returns. Jason Thompson from the Sacramento Kings is another option, after Carl Landry gets back to action.
This will be a tough decision for the Atlanta Hawks, but the team has to decide sooner than later what their focus will be on.