Despite losing their All-Star centre Al Horford just 11 games into the season, the Hawks still finished second in their division and fifth in the conference.
Atlanta's 40 wins in last year's shortened 66-game regular season, were the fourth best in the East and earned them a meeting with the veteran-filled Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs.
Horford returned during the series with the Celtics, but his presence wasn't enough to help the Hawks get into the second round, as they fell to Boston in six games.
Horford Returns - It's easy to forget what an impact Horford's presence can have on the Hawks after he missed most of last season. Horford is a hard worker that gives his all on the defensive side of the ball. Entering his sixth season, he can provide Atlanta with 15 points per game and flirt with double digit rebounds on a nightly basis.
Al Horford's return should give the Hawks a major boost in the middle.
Highlight Reel - On any given night, Josh Smith will make a handful of plays at both ends of the court that will bring fans to their feet. As one of the NBA's most impressive highlight makers, Smith enters this season on the last year of his deal and will certainly be out to showcase his talents in hopes of landing a big contract.
Cap Relief - The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist and the great trick Hawks general manager Danny Ferry ever pulled was saving the team from salary cap hell. It's not to suggest that Ferry is the devil, but he may have sold his soul in order to open up cap room going forward and keep his club competitive at the same time. Trading Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams away in separate deals, while adequately filling their roles makes Ferry the star of the off-season.
Say It Ain't So - The Hawks appear to have replaced Joe Johnson's production on paper, but losing a star player is always a risky move. Johnson was a two-way player that provided crunch-time scoring and strong defence on the wing. The six-time All-Star will be missed at the start of the season and if the Hawks new acquisitions fail to step up, the Hawks may miss the playoffs.
Get ready for the season with the latest from TSN.ca.
Al Horford's return puts the Hawks in the top 10.
Josh Smith contributes in several categories and is the top projected Hawk at 18
Defensive Trouble - Johnson's departure will be felt most on the defensive side of the ball where the Hawks perimeter players will struggle to slow down talented scorers. Anthony Morrow and Kyle Korver are the weakest links on defence and will need their teammates to pick up the slack.
X Factor: Lou Williams
Lou williams may not have the star power of a Joe Johnson, but he is an efficient scorer and an exciting young player that could help the team forget about Johnson in a hurry. If the 25-year-old Williams continues to improve, he could give the Hawks all the offence of Johnson, at a much lower cost.
What to Expect
The Hawks are in a good position entering the season, having brought in young talent, while shedding salary for the future. The loss of Johnson shouldn't keep them from returning to the post-season as a middle of the pack team, fifth or sixth in the conference. However, despite the positive outlook, they still lack the elite talent to seriously challenge for a spot in the East final.
Tim Chisholm's Offseason Grade
The Hawks reached their ceiling with Joe Johnson (well, actually they hit that ceiling about two years ago) and finally decided to let him go and rebuild. They sent the six-time All-Star to Brooklyn in exchange for Jordan Farmar, Anthony Morrow, Jordan Williams, Johan Petro, DeShawn Stevenson and a 2013 first round draft pick.
After spending five seasons in the Playoffs, the Hawks will probably re-enter the lottery this season, but for them that's probably a good thing.
They still have some All-Star-caliber talent in Al Horford and Josh Smith, and after jettisoning Johnson and Marvin Williams they are poised to be big-time free agent players next summer.
The club decided to take one step back this year in the hopes of taking two steps forward next year.
Either way, it was better than standing still for yet another season.