The Sneaky Good Team, in Their Way
They're a bit shallow and small on the wing, and those size issues mean they probably won't be one of the league's half-dozen or so stingiest defenses again this season. But people are sleeping on Atlanta if they think the Joe Johnson trade opened up an easy playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Few teams start a frontline combo as dynamic, on both ends, as the Josh Smith/Al Horford duo. If that's the foundation of your roster, even if it's just a one-year stopgap roster, you're off to a good start.
The combination of more Jeff Teague, Lou Williams, and a dramatic increase in accurate outside shooting should make up for the loss of Johnson's scoring and give Larry Drew the chance to build a faster, more varied offense. The small forward position is an issue, but Drew should be able to cobble together a night-to-night wing rotation out of Williams, Devin Harris (when paired with Teague), Anthony Morrow, Kyle Korver, John Jenkins, and even DeShawn Stevenson. Don't be shocked if Atlanta is playing in - and losing - the no. 4/no. 5 series in the first round.