Atlanta Hawks: Best individual performances of the 2016-17 season
The Atlanta Hawks wrapped up their 35th winning season in franchise history. Let’s take a look at the best individual performances of Atlanta’s 2016-17 campaign.
Once again, the Atlanta Hawks head into the summer facing plenty of uncertainty.
The team has begun a drastic reshaping of its front office, with Mike Budenholzer stepping down as president of basketball operations to focus on his coaching duties, while Wes Wilcox has been reassigned from general manager to an advisory role.
Once a new general manager is hired, not only will three players have to be selected on June 22, the night of the NBA Draft (the Hawks have the 19th, 31st and 60th picks), Atlanta must determine if it’s ready to present a maximum contract in less than two months to an intricate part of its franchise.
The premier player on the team, power forward Paul Millsap, stands to earn up to $15 million more next season by opting out of his contract and becoming an unrestricted free agent. The trade value of Dwight Howard has plummeted to an all-time low.
While the Hawks’ roster may look drastically different on opening night next season, the team qualified for the postseason for the 10th consecutive year, the longest active streak among Eastern Conference teams.
Atlanta posted a 43-49 record, fifth best in the Eastern Conference, and battled Washington for six intense games in the opening round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs.
The 88 games the Hawks played offered plenty of excitement, so let’s examine a few of the standout individual performances of the 2016-17 season.
37 points — Paul Millsap vs. New York Knicks (Jan. 29, 2017)
The Atlanta Hawks set plenty of individual records during a thrilling contest against New York Knicks in late January.
Atlanta posted a 142-139 victory, its highest point total of the season, as it outlasted the Knicks in a contest that went to four overtimes, marking just the 11th time in league history a contest spilled into four overtime sessions.
Millsap mercifully managed to end the game with less than 30 seconds remaining in the fourth overtime with a put-back layup, providing the Hawks a lead it wouldn’t surrender.
On the night, Millsap played 60 minutes, becoming one of just 13 players to spend 60 or more minutes on the floor in a single game since the 1983-84 season, while submitting one of his most impressive performances of the season.
For a 35-minute stretch, Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer kept his starting power forward on the floor, an impressive feat considering only 16 players averaged 35 or more minuets a game last season. Millsap spent an average of 34 minutes a night on the court for the Hawks.
During his one-hour stint on the floor, Millsap posted 37 points, the highest individual point total the Hawks managed in 2016-17, as he shot 13-of-29 from the field, sank 8-of-10 free throws and converted three shots from three-point range.
Along with his impressive point total, Millsap also added 19 rebounds, seven assists and a steal.
15 assists — Dennis Schorder vs. New York Knicks (Jan. 29, 2017)
The extended opportunities during a four overtime game against the Knicks enabled Atlanta Hawks point guard Dennis Schroder to post the highest assist total in his 285 career appearances.
Schroder dished out 15 assists, with eight coming in the fourth quarter and the overtime sessions. Five of his assists led to three-point field goals for the Hawks, as he set up long range conversions for Paul Millsap, Mike Dunleavy Jr. and Kent Bazemore.
Following the game, all Schroder could do was praise the fight his team showed.
Schroder displayed plenty of fight as well, as he registered the first of three 20-point, 10-assist performances on the year. The 23-year-old guard poured in 23 points during his 54 minutes on the court.
The outing was one of 31 outings with 20 or more points for Schroder, a promising achievement during his first season as a starter.
23 rebounds — Dwight Howard vs. Houston Rockets (Feb. 23, 2017)
There were a total of 1,230 games played during the regular season and only 10 saw a player grab over 22 rebounds during the 2016-17 season.
Atlanta Hawks center Dwight Howard was responsible for two of the contests, as he totaled 23 rebounds against both Charlotte and the Rockets.
Both of his 23-rebound performances featured 18 defensive rebounds and five offensive rebounds, with his effort against Houston being accompanied by an exceptional offensive performance and most importantly, a win for the Hawks.
During his first game back at the Toyota Center after leaving the Rockets in free agency, Howard lifted Atlanta to a victory by totaling 24 points, 23 rebounds, three assists, two blocks and a steal.
Howard managed to provide an immediate impact in the contest, as he won the opening tip, scored eight points in the first four minutes and logged a double-double prior to halftime.
The eight-time All-Star insisted the performance wasn’t one of revenge, but he managed to grab 31.8 percent of the 93 available rebounds on the night, more than twice the amount of any other player on the court that night.
5 steals — Paul Millsap vs. Houston Rockets (Nov. 5, 2016)
The Atlanta Hawks were among the most successful teams in the league at forcing turnovers this year, as the team averaged 8.2 steals per game, tied for fifth-most in the league.
All-Star power forward Paul Millsap was a key contributor, as his penchant for stripping the ball away from opponents was at its best during the sixth game of the season against Houston.
Opponents routinely try to post up Millsap and his 6-foot-8 frame, only dribbling the ball around him is a challenge, as he possesses a 7-foot-2 wingspan and has a knack for jarring the ball away. Millsap averaged 1.3 steals per game, tying him for the fourth-most among all power forwards last season.
The five-steal performance was the ninth for Millsap since joining the Hawks four years ago, part of the reason why he has managed to post 1.7 steals per game during that span.
5 blocks — Paul Millsap vs. Portland Trail Blazers (Feb. 13, 2017)
On a night where his shot wasn’t falling, Atlanta Hawks power forward Paul Millsap found a way to impact the game in a multitude of ways, once again leading the team to an overtime victory.
Atlanta played five contests that went into overtime during the 2016-17 seaosn, registering five wins. The Hawks escaped with a 109-104 victory at the Moda Center behind a 21-point, nine-rebound, five-assist, five-block effort from Millsap.
Damian Lillard tried driving to the rim twice on Millsap, but was thwarted by his incredible 8-foot-9 standing reach. C.J. McCollum and Maruice Harkless also unsuccessfully tried to launch a shot over Millsap in the contest.
Millsap has blocked five or more shots 10 times in his 837 career regular season appearances.
The five-block effort was one shy of matching a career-high for Millsap. This season, he fell just seven blocks shy of averaging 1.0 or more blocks for the seventh time in his career.
3-Point Field Goals
6 three-pointers — Tim Hardaway Jr. vs. San Antonio Spurs (Jan. 1, 2017)
Tim Hardaway Jr. became the most potent three-point shooter for the Atlanta Hawks during the 2016-17 seaosn.
The 6-foot-6 guard knocked down a team-high 149 shots from beyond the arc on the season, with six coming against San Antonio on New Year’s Day. Atlanta needed every conversion, as it held on for a 114-112 overtime victory, snapping a six-game skid against the Spurs.
The outing was a showcase performance for Hardaway Jr., as he tied the game with 3.3 seconds remaining in regulation with a long range shot before scoring nine points in the additional session.
A majority of the damage from Hardaway came from the right wing, with five of his six conversions from beyond the arc coming from the same section of the court.
The other make from beyond the arc for Hardaway Jr. came from the right corner, a shot that became a specialty as he converted 41.4 percent of his corner three-point attempts, the highest percentage of his career.
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