Blogtable: Why doubt the Hawks?

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.


BLOGTABLE: Buy Hawks or Nets? | Who is Atlanta’s All-Star? | Are the Hawks legit?



VIDEOCan the Hawks keep up their immense success once the playoffs begin?

> They’re the top team in the East right now, but they’ve also steamrolled their Western Conference opponents during this recent 23-2 run. This team is legit, isn’t it? Why are there still so many Hawks doubters out there?

Steve Aschburner, NBA.comAny team that ranks in the top 10 in both offensive and defensive efficiency this deep into a season is legit in my mind. The Hawks defend without fouling, or at least without giving away a lot of cheap points at the line. They shoot lights-out. They have worker bees to run down those vaunted 50-50 balls. I think any reluctance to give them their full due as a contender stems from three things: Limited history as a power since the ‘Nique years, the absence of an easily accessible marquee name/personality and, most of all, their style. Atlanta went “3-crazy” in the playoffs last spring out of necessity — no Al Horford — and doesn’t hoist ’em from way deep quite like that now (five of their eight most prolific shooters in the postseason took 45 percent of their FGA from the arc vs. just two now). But the Hawks still score fewer points off 2-pointers than all but four teams and more off 3-pointers than all but six, and that heavy reliance on range doesn’t fit the imagery of grinding, assertive playoff offense.

Fran Blinebury, NBA.comYes, they’re legit. Their smackdown of the so-called power teams from the West proves that. The only reason that people doubt the Hawks is the long franchise history of mediocre basketball, early playoff exits, empty arenas and no excitement outside of Dominique Wilkins. They’ll fight their own past until they get a chance to do something about in the 2015 playoffs.

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.comYes, this team is legit. The doubt comes because of the Hawks’ history, not the Hawks’ present. People are getting caught up in reputations. And the instability in the front office and ownership doesn’t help. But this isn’t this isn’t a sudden flash that needs to stand the test of time. People could see Atlanta coming at least a season ago and maybe longer. Besides, half a season with some of the wins the Hawks have had is a pretty good test of time. That’s a roster with talent and a smart coach who will have a lot of success.

Shaun Powell, NBA.com: The doubters exists because (a) the Hawks are guilty by association with regard to the crummy East, and (b) they have no stars, and (c) the Hawks have never won two playoff rounds in their Atlanta history, so folks are waiting to see what happens in April/May. Also, there’s the sense that when the Bulls get it together, it’s their conference to lose.

John Schuhmann, NBA.comI can’t say why other people don’t believe in the Hawks, but I’m pretty convinced. They have the best record (9-3), the best offense (107.4 points per 100 possessions) and the second best defense (101.4) in games played between the league’s 12 best teams (the top 4 in the East, the top 8 in the West). Overall, they’re one of two teams that ranks in the top six on both ends of the floor, and they’ve played a tougher schedule than the other one (Golden State). Though Al Horford has come a long way since the beginning of the season, interior defense is still a bit of a question, so I’ll be curious to see them against Chicago on Saturday if both Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah are (relatively) healthy. Noah missed the first meeting in December.

Sekou Smith, NBA.comThe Hawks are indeed “legit,” and then some. Yet, as a veteran of some of the most diabolically bad basketball ever unleashed on fans in Atlanta (13-69 in 2004-05 was uglier than the numbers indicate), I get the reluctance to buy-in locally. It’s hard to believe in a team with the history the Hawks have acquired over the years is as putrid as we all know it to be. Every glimmer of hope has been met with a door slamming in the face of Hawks fans eager to jump on a bandwagon with no wheels. That said, I don’t believe in the ghosts of basketball past muddying up things for the ghosts of basketball present and the future. And these current Hawks are giving you everything you need to believe that they are destined for something special this season. The Eastern Conference crown is there for the taking … so why not the Hawks?

Ian Thomsen, NBA.com: They don’t have anyone known for raising his level of play. That’s what the great players do, and that’s why they win championships. Will the Hawks be able to raise their level in the postseason? But then again, if the Bulls aren’t healthy three or four months from now, there may be no rival in the East capable of forcing the Hawks to achieve that higher level of play. What they’re doing right now may be good enough to earn them a place in the NBA Finals.

Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blogAtlanta sports fans have something I call the hammer of history constantly dangling over their heads. Over the last three decades, there have been so many Atlanta teams with championship aspirations who showed promise and got the city and the fans fired up, and then fell short. The Braves won 14 consecutive division titles and managed one World Series title. The Falcons made it to the Super Bowl in 1998 and got whacked. Georgia Tech made it to the NCAA Basketball championship game in 2004 and getting bumped off by UConn. It’s been all tease and minimal payoff, and Atlanta fans are understandably tired and suspicious of handing over their hearts too soon. So I get it, I do. The thing is? Right now, this Hawks team is for real. There’s still a lot of season to go, and I know it’s hard to embrace anything with that hammer above, but enjoy it Hawks fans. Stuff like this doesn’t come along very often.

27 Comments

  1. JayJay says:

    I get the “why doubt the hawks” because of their history, but every year brings new changes and promise. I think the hawks have been the most consistent thing in the east and are right now the unquestioned best in the east. I mean if you factored in the NBA play-offs starting right now who would beat them. I think Cleveland is out right now, Toronto is playing well and will get better as DD gets back, but Chicago seems to trail Washington and ATL is owning Washington. The West is a murderer’s row of talented teams but I do not think that ATL can’t match up with any of them. In fact I think you could say some of these same doubts could exist for Golden State too. I bet any team facing ATL in a 7 game series right now from the west wouldn’t be too favored in Vegas with the Hawks record thus far. We still have half a season to go, but RIGHT NOW, the Hawks are “undoubtedly” the best team in the East.

  2. Indiana'sownLarryBird says:

    They were a below .500 team in the playoffs last year as the 8th seed with out Horford, and took the Pacers to 7 games, so this year they can go to the finals and win it all, there just as good as anybody in the league, the Hawks are beating the East and the West, with that Spurs style ball.

  3. harriethehawk says:

    The highlight of my week was Sunday, being at the Phillips arena with thousands of other Hawks fans like myself, screaming at the top of our lungs when they scored and dunked and stole the ball! Let’s Go Hawks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Yeah Coach Mike B. (yeah it’s hard to spell his surname) was Coach Pop’s fruit. I am happy for him on his second year it’s all success so far. This is a promising young team. Players willing to sacrifice to be better not just players but as a team. They deserve it. No doubt they really step it up this year. Good luck Atlanta Hawks.

  5. there’s doubters because the pacers were even better this time last year
    and they got beat in 6 games by a heat team that got CRUSHED in the finals

    Hawks are playing decent season basketball and that’s great for them, but we’ll see in the post-season…

  6. James E. Miller says:

    A life long Hawks fan living in the city of Houston. I followed the Hawks very close since there play-off run against Indiana last year. My belief, they will go far in the play-off this year. There is very little national exposure of the Hawks on national television which explain there lack of respect. This team will garish llocal and national respect by winning again the upper echelon teams, If they play .500 ball against the upper tier of the East eyes and doors will open to there legit. This is a very unselfish team, this will bore will in the playoff.

  7. rich says:

    They’ll lose in the first round. PERIOD.

  8. Clint says:

    I think some of you are missing the point there, specifically Warriors fans. He’s not asking if they’re the best team in the NBA, he’s asking if they are legit, are they actually a good team with a chance for the finals. I believe they do. Granted they don’t have that “#1 Big name Scorer” but that’s not they way they are playing, they’re playing like the coach wants them to, like the Spurs play, unselfish, fundamental basketball, and you can’t say that doesn’t win championships. I’m by no means a Hawks fan btw, just a sad Thunder fan enjoying watching a good team come out of no where to play really good ball.

  9. "Smart" NBA fan says:

    why does everybody on NBA ESPN and TNT not talk about the Lakers? The most exciting team yes drama is a magnet to the Lakers but so are NBA championships. What has Atlanta ever shown to us? Jeff Teague is new and hasnt proved anything to me yet. Kobe is what is important and soon to retire 1 of the best ever to play the game of basketball. Not to mention all the injuries the hard fought battles Kobe has gone thru. Why dont you show many records Kobe has shot? Kobe has so many accomplishments to name i cant even begin to think about the Atlanta Hawks. All i can think about is why you all hate Kobe so much? Are you jealous of him? Or maybe your just all Jordan fans. But Kobe is the best out there and Lebron doesnt even come close. He needs many m ore championships to even mention in the same sentence as Kobe is talked about.

  10. bill timing says:

    how is this even a question? The top 2 are teauge and milsap, the rest is spurs team style basketball. Watch and learn fellows.

  11. Tom says:

    They have not proven anything in the post season. You can talk about regular season stats all you want. The playoffs have a completely different atmosphere than the regular season. Do not automatically consider them title contenders just because they have an outstanding regular season record.

  12. Trae says:

    The Hawks are not onlyl legit. They are having one of the greatest seasons in NBA history. When is the last time ANY team from the east has gone out west and swept 9 straight games? I dont remember that ever happening. Only 3 teams have gone 23-2 in December and January,. The BUlls with Mike. Miami 2 years ago and San Antonio last year. All 3 teams won the NBA titlle. I was skeptical of their winning untiliwatched a few games. They are not oly beating the best teams inb the NBA. They are beating them EASILY.I truly believe they will win the EAST but they are capable of winning it all,Plus,did I mention how much fun they are to watch? The energy,the teamwork. They are a refreshing team that the NBA needs right now~!~

  13. Marvin says:

    The only reason people aren’t giving props to the Hawks is because it would make them look stupid for their usual allegiance to teams with superstars. They blindly predicted who would run the east/west and then when those predictions don’t come into fruition, they still hold on to perceptions that the Bulls, Cavs, Pacers will turn it around and suddenly crash the standings. The Hawks don’t have someone who can raise their level of play, Ian Thomsen says. Isn’t Teague one of the best fourth quarter players around? Wouldn’t that be an indicator of someone who finishes strong and can take over a game by himself. I’ve seen him do it as early as last year’s playoffs.

  14. Yes, they are legit. The Hawks are playing great team basketball, and that is key. History, however, is what is keeping the doubters out there. The franchise has such a long history of playing well, sometimes even great, during the regular season, and then taking an early exit from the playoffs. That kind of track record isn’t so easily forgotten. One thing they lack though, is a definite “go-to’ guy, someone who is the heart and soul of the team, someone who will take control and elevate his play when it’s needed. Atlanta needs to find its superstar before long, if they hope to make a deep run in the post-season.

  15. Paul says:

    Why? Well, mainly because their current success is a transparent, albeit surprisingly successful, attempt at making the team more profitable for Bruce Levenson to sell. I would feel disparaged if I were most of the teams stars, but they have put it together well enough to be a remarkable 30-8; way better than the same team did last year. Is it Al Horfords return? Is it Mike Budenholzer, a product of the great Gregg Popovich’s coaching system? Is it Jeff Teague’s continuous rise? Maybe it’s all of those things, but I personally think, for whatever reason their current success may be attributed to, that it will be short-lived.

  16. MarkSenior says:

    Best regular season Hawks team I’ve seen since DWilkins days. I don’t know if they can keep up their winning ways but its obvious they’ll be in the playoffs. Let’s see if their style of basketball can take them deep even though they don’t have a bg name “star player.” GO HAWKS!

  17. Luke says:

    Once the Raptors get Derozan back, we will see who the best team is.

    • brad casey says:

      The hawks showed up once again taking the raptors out… they toyed w those guys in Toronto.pay attention fans the Atlantic hawks have the nucleus,chemistry and talent to beat anyone in the league

  18. PC says:

    The Hawks are doing great. Fun to watch. That being said, being the top in the NBA or East or West does not guarantee success in the playoffs. (Dallas Mavs in ’07, for example) I’m all behind the Hawks because they put the team in team basketball with no superstars (Detroit Pistons ’04). They’re legit as stated above. I think there are doubters because they don’t want to expect to much from a team too early yet, and get flooded in disappointment. Kinda like personally I believe the Thunder can turn things around and do damage, but I don’t want to be disappointed either. Like the players and coaches say, take it one game at a time, and hope your fave team/s come out strong.

  19. dustydreamnz says:

    Teams don’t go 23 and 2 unless they’re legit. I think they have a great chance of beating the Warriors because of their team play, it’s a team game. Also, this group had heaps of injuries last season so with time, good health and even better chemistry, they might improve further.

  20. ix says:

    Why doubt the Hawks? They haven’t faced the Warriors who has players that can go off any time from 1-12.

  21. Nikolay says:

    To be the best you’ve got the beat the best. The Hawks have not played the Warriors, currently the team with the best record in the NBA. Thus Atlanta cannot be claimed as the best team in the NBA.

  22. Gary says:

    Let’s ask the 2011 Bulls and 2014 Pacers what that best record means in the east.

    Not knocking the team for playing great, but they can’t beat a west team in the finals without a high profile scorer.

  23. nareman says:

    I’ve never read your blog before, but, seriously, thanks for writing this article
    Thanks for your kind words

  24. Ike_Man says:

    Living in Atlanta and watching these Hawks this year have been exciting. They play unselfish and smart basketball on both sides of the ball. As a Hawks fan, Its way to early to talk about Contending for a championship as we know (Falcon Fans) they let us down time after time. I would be happy to see them in the East Finals

    • Trevor Dylan says:

      @IKe_Man, they basically copied the Spurs style of basketball. You make it seem like they started playing that way. Their current Coach learned from the best coach Popovich; who just happens to have (5 Rings)!!!!!