Studs: Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Al Horford
Duds: Mike Bibby
The Atlanta Hawks are still a young, flawed team that has managed to attain some measure of success for the past two years. They haven’t made many improvements or moves this summer and still have to re-sign restricted free agent Marvin Williams, who should be able to turn in a strong fantasy season on the Hawks. If Williams does not re-sign, expect the efficient Maurice Evans to step into a more prominent role for the team.
Johnson, who is the clear leader of this team and the Hawks’ best fantasy player, should be in for another strong season with stats that are similar to his past two seasons. He’s as steady as they come and with the arrival of Jamal Crawford, Johnson should see some of the offensive load lifted of off his sometimes overburdened shoulders.
Speaking of Crawford, expect his role to be the offensive spark plug off of the bench. That said, he won’t see anywhere near the 38:36 per game he saw last year on the Golden State Warriors. Expect somewhere around 25 to 30 minutes a night with a couple offensive explosions every month. He’ll shoot better than he did last season, when he hit 40.6 percent from the field and 33.8 percent from behind the three-point line. Crawford will be more efficient this year, but he won’t be nearly as productive.
Bibby‘s value will be hurt the most from Crawford’s arrival. He did sign a new three-year deal in early July, but he’s also entering this season at 31 years old and will likely see some more rest. Crawford and newly drafted Jeff Teague will likely cut into Bibby’s minutes and production.
Smith took a step back last season, but now that he’s healthy expect him to return to 2007-08 form, which means he should be a fantasy stud this year who may have fallen off of many radars because of his disappointing 2008-09 season. Don’t fall into that crowd.
Horford struggled last year because of injuries but, like Smith, expect him to bounce back and take a step closer to being a solid NBA center this season. His scoring, rebounds and blocks should all see increases.
Relevant fantasy players and projected per-game stats:
PG: Mike Bibby (12 points, 3 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.5 threes)
SG: Joe Johnson (20 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 threes)
SF: Marvin Williams* (13 points, 7 rebounds)
PF: Josh Smith (18 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 1.5 steals, 2.5 blocks)
C: Al Horford (12 points, 10 rebounds, 2 blocks)
Bench: Jamal Crawford (12 points, 2 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 threes), Zaza Pachulia (6 points, 5 rebounds), Maurice Evans (7 points, 4 rebounds, 1.5 threes)
* if re-signed