5. Atlanta Hawks
When mentioning the Atlanta Hawks, it’s impossible to skip over the fact that they lost Al Horford. Yes, they essentially replaced Horford with Dwight Howard, but still, Horford is a big loss.
Howard is a nice story in that he is returning home to Atlanta. He’s also returning to the Eastern Conference after stints with the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets. But Howard is not the player he used to be. He should still be productive, but there is a reason Atlanta (and other teams) waited on Horford’s decision before moving forward with Howard.
Atlanta also lost Jeff Teague, who was dealt to the Indiana Pacers. Teague and Horford had been mainstays for the Hawks, especially the latter. Now, it’s a new era in Atlanta. The Hawks are still talented, and should have no problem getting into the playoffs, but are they as strong as in the past? The answer arguably is no.
Despite the changes, though, Atlanta should still be a good team in the East. Howard, Dennis Schröder, Paul Millsap, Kent Bazemore and others should definitely propel Atlanta to the playoffs.
Atlanta likely would have been higher on the list if they were able to retain Al Horford, though.
Next: No. 4