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Tiago Splitter: Dwight Howard, Dennis Schroder make Atlanta Hawks better defensively

Dwight Howard, Jeff Teague

Atlanta Hawks backup center Tiago Splitter believes the team has improved…defensively at least.

This summer the team traded Jeff Teague, in favor of keeping Dennis Schroder, and signed center Dwight Howard, although they failed to retain Al Horford who left to join the Celtics.

Splitter spoke with Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and said he feels the team will be better than before:

(Howard) is a little bit more of a defensive player than Al, more rebounds, more physical presence on the court. That is going to change our team. … Dennis, he is also a great defender. He’s a better defender than Jeff. He will pressure the point guard the whole court. He is growing up and getting more solid.

The problem with Splitter’s statement is that the Hawks were second in the league in fewest points per possession allowed, and top six in opponent field goal percentage.

That ranks them up top near the Spurs, Warriors, and Clippers among the best defensive teams last season.

Horford also had a better year defensively last season, although the Rockets year long grind was partially the reason Howard’s season went sour.

Howard, is a three-time Defensive Player of the Year, and is a known rim protector and rebounder, and the Hawks will be looking to get him back to doing what he does best.

Howard brings a compliment to Paul Millsap‘s game. He can handle bigger players in the paint, and even out rebound them on most nights when he applies himself. The Hawks did improve their defensive rebounding just because they got bigger by adding a shot blocking big man like Howard.

Schroder will have to prove if he can handle starting point guard duties consistently before he can be pegged a better player than Teague. While he has all of the tools, and he is improving, the only thing that will prove Splitter correct on this assessment is Schroder being put to the test.

The Hawks didn’t do so bad defensively last season, they in fact did well, but it remains to be seen if they have truly improved defensively.

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