Predicting the Atlanta Hawks Starting Lineup for 2017/18

The Hawks have gone through a period of flux, and the depth chart could vary drastically to what's predicted in the preseason.

The Hawks added some veteran shooters to assist their core, but Mike Budenholzer will have to decide whether guys like Marco Belinelli and Luke Babbitt will be mainstays for the season, or whether they'll have wildly fluctuating minutes depending on how Taurean Prince and DeAndre' Bembry are playing.

The Starting Lineup

Dennis Schroder

Arguably the only player that is going to start every single game if healthy, Dennis Schroder is the key to how many games the team can win. Schroder is the only player on the roster who can create a shot for himself, and he'll be asked to do that and much more. Look for Schroder to take another substantial step in his personal development. His advanced stats will suffer this year with the losses of Paul Millsap, Tim Hardaway Jr, Kyle Korver, and Dwight Howard, but his counting stats will probably go up.

Taurean Prince

It's unclear what Prince's ceiling is at this stage, but if he can take another step towards becoming a top-tier wing defender, then his season will be a success. Prince played less than 1,000 regular season minutes last year and shot 32 percent from three. We saw a massive step up, averaging 31 minutes per game in his six playoff appearances, and while his shooting percentages went down to 28 percent from behind the arc, he made 25 of his 38 two-point attempts, while showing value on the defensive glass. He'll have more offensive responsibility this year, and perhaps he'll be able to take some steps with more confidence. 

Dewayne Dedmon

The Hawks brought in Dewayne Dedmon to be an interior defensive presence on a low-risk deal. He'll be asked to protect the basket and find most of his touches as the roll man with Schroder. Dedmon's game isn't expansive, and despite the extra minutes, it's unlikely he'll have more offensive responsibilities than he did in San Antonio. The main things to keep an eye on with Dedmon are whether he can help make the Hawks a league-average team regarding defensive rating. Prince and Kent Bazemore will help him there, but aside from that, there aren't too many great defensive options on this roster. The other important role he'll have will be how he can help John Collins' development. The Knicks found great success pairing Kristaps Porzingis in his rookie year with Robin Lopez, as he helped enormously with rim protection, help defense, and rebounding. If Dedmon can help Collins on defense, that will be a tick. 

Ersan Ilyasova

The stretchy power forward should start for most of the season, but he could drop down the depth chart if coach Bud chooses to give Collins a start later on in the year, or perhaps even play Prince at the four, with Bembry and Bazemore on the wings. Ilyasova will be tasked with a heavier offensive load than last year, but if he can average something like 14.5 points with a 38 percent clip from behind the arc, that will be a big tick for the veteran. 

Kent Bazemore

Atlanta gifted Bazemore a massive contract, and while it looks like a sunk-cost already, he's got a chance to redeem himself this year. Bazemore may have to be the third option on offense, which isn't something that he's had to do before. He may have to try and create some offense for himself and others this year with no real secondary playmaker on the roster. It's unclear on what the front office expects from Bazemore, and despite the Hawks not having strong guard depth, it's hard to predict how many games he'll start. 

The Rest Of The Core

Marco Belinelli

The Hawks traded for Belinelli as part of the Howard deal, and at this stage of his career, he looks to be pure offense off the bench. Look for Belinelli to be the glue in some of the interesting small-ball lineups with Prince at the four and potentially Collins as a faux-stretch five. 

Miles Plumlee

Not a whole lot to say about Plumlee, but the front office invested a bit into him through the Howard trade. He'll see a fair bit of time as the backup center. If he could return to the double-double threat he was a couple of years ago, then look for the Hawks to try and find some return on investment in a trade. 

Further Down The Depth Chart

It's unclear how Bembry will be used, but expect his minutes to go up again this year as an important piece off the bench. If he ends up moving into the starting lineup towards the end of the season, that would be a definite sign of progress. Collins is obviously the other one to monitor. He could be a bit of a black hole on offense considering the lack of talent surrounding him, but if he can improve his passing out of the post, the outside shooters could benefit from having him on the court. 

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