The Atlanta Hawks will have a much different complexion next year than they did throughout the 2012-2013 NBA season. Josh Smith is likely to be gone after he tests unrestricted free agency and several other key players will be free agents as well. That means they will have real changes coming to a team that made the playoffs and lost in the first round this season.
Al Horford and Jeff Teague, if the Hawks wisely choose to re-sign him, will likely be the focus of the Hawks next season. As two young, developing and productive players, Horford and Teague will likely get the team headed in a positive direction. Another thing that will help them next season that many forget about is the return of Lou Williams from his torn ACL.
Williams played in 39 games for Atlanta before going down with his injury, the majority of them as the team’s sixth man. He averaged 28.7 minutes per game and put up 14.1 points, 3.6 assists, 1.1 steals and 2.1 rebounds per game on 42.2 percent shooting and 36.7 percent three-point shooting in that time. He was on pace to have a really nice season before the injury.
The Hawks seemed to persevere without Williams on the floor for most of the season, but his absence reared its ugly head in the playoffs. The Hawks struggled to find reliable offensive options at times in the first round and it ultimately cost them the series Had Williams been on the floor, that would have helped.
Next season will be the reverse of this year for Atlanta and Williams, though. Williams likely won’t be ready for the start of the year, but he will almost undoubtedly return about the middle of the season and help them as they try and get back to the postseason. The Hawks will need to make more moves other than waiting on Williams to get back, but that’s obviously a nice luxury to have.