The addition of center Dwight Howard and a change in coach Mike Budenholzer’s approach has dramatically improved the Hawks’ offensive rebounding, KL Chouinard of the team’s website relays. The Hawks ranked at the bottom in the NBA in that category last season but sit No. 3 in the early going. Howard leads the league with a 4.9 offensive rebounding average, as the Hawks’ bigs have been given greater freedom to pursue those caroms, Chouinard adds. “I would call it a slight tweak or an emphasis, but not at the expense of transition defense,” Budenholzer told Chouinard. “[It’s] an emphasis of ‘Can we be better on the offensive boards? Can we take advantage of who we have and be more committed there?’ I think the guys have done a nice job of doing that and they have been rewarded.”
- CEO Steve Koonin signed a new three-year contract with the team this summer, Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Koonin signed a contract with the previous ownership group in April 2014. Principal owner Tony Ressler, who purchased the team in June 2015, decided to keep Koonin on board. He oversees the team’s business, financial and strategic operations, Vivlamore adds.
- The Hawks didn’t spend heavily on their reserves but that unit is paying big dividends, Vivlamore writes in a separate story. Swingman Thabo Sefolosha ($3.85MM salary this season) ranks second in the league in steals (2.6 per game), sixth in field goal percentage (60.0) and sixth in plus/minus rating (plus-78) despite averaging 25 minutes per game. Big man Mike Muscala ($1MM) leads the league in field goal percentage at 66%, while guards Malcolm Delaney ($2.5MM) and Tim Hardaway Jr. rank among the top 20 in plus/minus rating. “Everyone on this team can play, a guy in the starting five, a guy from the bench, everybody can contribute big time,” Sefolosha told Vivlamore. “Different night, different guy steps up.”