The Atlanta Hawks Are Here to Stay

There are two types of people in this world—those who believe in the Hawks and non-believers. As far as the Eastern Conference is concerned, as long Lebron James is healthy the Cleveland Cavaliers are the favourites. When considering who will knock off the “King”, many teams in the conference come into the mix. The Heat, with a nice draft pick and new point guard, or the Bulls on a run with their new coach, or even Brad Beal staying healthy long enough to assist John Wall to triumph, are the trendy picks this season.

The Hawks are not getting the love for a team fresh off of 60 wins. The argument has been simple for any naysayer this year: “Damarre Carroll is gone, and he was very underrated last year.” While an underrated Carroll is gone, it doesn’t kill your team. This was a team that had four all stars in 2014-15—and Carroll was not one of them.

The four all-stars remain and, with an underrated move, Tiago Splitter was acquired to play center, affording Al Horford, the team’s back bone, more time to play more power forward. Through five games this season Horford has posted a 22.8 PER—well above average. Aside from Splitter adding 19 minutes per game, a lot of the time missed by Carroll has been taken by an increase in minutes for Dennis Schroder, and Kent Bazemore. The two have taken advantage early on, with Bazemore adding six more points per game than last year, and Schroder adding three more points per game. While Bazemore and Schroder were able to produce in lesser roles last year the team has the depth to make those lesser roles now filled by NBA veterans. Thabo Sefolosha, who has always been a strong defender, really is the eighth most valuable asset, and after missing him in the playoffs last season, the team has the ability to ease him in from an off court injury, and have him playing at his best in the playoffs. Mike Scott, Justin Holiday, and Lamar Patterson are other veterans, and guys who can come in for minutes at multiple positions, and keep the team fresh, and take those bottom bench minutes.

Although it is early, a statement on Tuesday in Miami was made. With both teams healthy, aside from Sefolosha, the Hawks were in control of that game almost from start to finish. In a division game, it would have been thought that Miami, at home would want to make that statement that the hype is real, this is the team to compete with Cleveland, instead it was 26 points from Jeff Teague, a double-double out of Horford, and a Hawks win.

Mike Budenholzer, fresh off of his coach of the year award, seems to not get benefit of the doubt to make the right rotations for this team. A guy who saw first hand how to keep bodies healthy, and how to make all fifteen players useful while still winning in San Antonio should be able to bring the same to Atlanta. With even more depth than last year, and all the variety of lineups, due to essentially every player being able to play multiple positions, I see no problems in the team losing Carroll. While a key win in Miami was made, a large game looms Saturday, as the Wizards another Southeast division foe comes to Atlanta, and the Hawks have the chance to grab two on their biggest competition.