he Washington Bullets open their six-game National Basketball Association exhibition season Monday at the Omni against the revamped Atlanta Hawks (WTOP-1500, 7:40 p.m.) and Coach Gene Shue said he is anxious to see how much his team has improved.

"We didn't know what we were doing the first exhibition game last year," said Shue, "but we are so far advanced this time around. We're doing some things better now than we were even at the end of last season. We're running our plays crisper and the defense is on a par.

"One thing I expect to find out against Atlanta is if we can rebound. The Hawks are a good rebounding team and if we can rebound with them, we're in pretty good shape."

Shue said today he plans to start by playing his team in units, but will make substitutions as he sees fit. The starting five is expected to be second-year man Frank Johnson and rookie Bryan Warrick at guards, Rick Mahorn at center and Spencer Haywood and Greg Ballard at forwards.

Warrick, the Bullets' first pick in the last draft, is trying to beat out Don Collins, Garry Witts and Billy Ray Bates for the No. 1 shooting guard spot. Kevin Grevey was the starter last year, but a torn abdominal muscle has prevented him from practicing yet. He is expected to begin the regular season on the injured list.

The Hawks are considered one of the best shot-blocking teams in the league with Tree Rollins, Dan Roundfield, George Johnson and rookie Dominique Wilkins, acquired from Utah in a trade for John Drew and Freeman Williams.

The Bullets will play the Milwaukee Bucks Thursday at Madison Square Garden in the first game of a doubleheader. The Knicks and the Nets will play in the second game.