When the Mavericks take on the Hawks Saturday night, there will be a few interesting twists.
The Hawks were a playoff team last year but sent their best player, Joe Johnson, to the Nets in a move that was at least part of the reason Deron Williams opted to stay with Brooklyn. (oh, that and Cuban missing the meeting). In addition, the Hawks added former Mavericks Devin Harris and DeShawn Stevenson in the offseason.
New GM Danny Ferry also jettisoned underachieving Marvin Williams and with Johnson freed up $90 million for future moves, understanding what he has was good but not good enough and he needed to shuffle the deck.
The role of leader will likely fall to underrated holdover Josh Smith, who had careers highs of 18.8 points and 9.6 rebounds last year, and Al Horford who had a year marred by a shoulder injury. Incoming Lou Williams will likely be a candidate for Sixth Man of the Year.
Other than these key guys, the Hawks are an amalgam of up-and-comers and long-range bombers. Point guard Jeff Teague is perceived to be a possible star in the league if he continues to improve.
The Hawks have a solid core for building for the future and open space to grab a superstar next year but this year they are likely to be a middle-of-the-pack team. As with many teams they should be able to field a competitive starting five but after that there is a lot more uncertainty.
Every game without Dirk is an opportunity for developing the new Mavericks but Chris Kaman is out as well with a strained Achilles. Brandan Wright and Bernard James should see significant minutes up front. Roddy Beaubois has been cleared to play.
Game Date/Time: Saturday, October 20, 6 p.m. CDT
Location: Philips Arena, Atlanta, Georgia