Why The Atlanta Hawks Can Make a Playoff Run

When sports experts talk about a team that can make a run in the playoffs, what are some key things mentioned? Experience, mental toughness, and a solid bench, along with a few other things. For example last year’s Heat team had the experience, they had the mental toughness they did not have the year prior, and their bench finally started playing during the playoffs (they were not as helpful during the regular season). What comparisons could there be between an elite team like the Heat and a middle of the pack Hawks? They have the experience and the toughness.

Al needs to step up about THIS much to make a splash

A projected starting five for the Hawks is: PG – Jeff Teague, SG – Devin Harris, SF – Josh Smith, PF – Al Horford, and C – Zaza Pachulia. This a playoff tested lineup. All of them, except for Harris, have played together for at least three seasons (Pachulia, Smith, and Horford for five seasons). To add on top of that, Harris has been to the Finals before with the Mavericks. There is no question that their starting five is an experienced and young (26.5 average age) lineup.

 

Mental toughness is just as important as physical toughness. If the mind is not strong enough to handle big plays and is jittery, the body will not be able to come through. In Larry Drew’s first year as head coach, the Hawks had over ten games that they lost by at least 20 points (against the Hornets at home they lost by 41). They finished fifth place that season and were eliminated in the semi-finals. It has been seasons like this that have led to the Hawks being called “a bunch of nice guys” and “not mentally tough” by Charles Barkley. However, last year the Hawks did not give up as easily as they did in years prior. Even when they were down by double digits, they fought back and either won or came close. Against the Timberwolves last year, the Hawks were down by as many as 18 toward the four minute mark in the third quarter but managed to come back and win the game. Now, coming close does not get you wins, but they put in the effort and showed toughness that had not been there in previous seasons (see Wolves game mentioned). There is no reason that this season they will go back to their old ways.

However, there is one thing the Hawks do not have in the checklist to make a playoff run. A reliable bench. Their bench this year consists of a bunch of expiring contracts picked up from Brooklyn in the Joe Johnson trade. They did, however, pick up Lou Williams. He will be a key piece for the Hawks this year. He will be their number one guy off the bench and will receive starter-like minutes. Other then him, the Hawks have a few more three point shooters and a couple of bench warmers. Larry Drew has shown he will not give players time on the court to prove themselves unless absolutely necessary (Jeff Teague’s first two seasons until Kirk Hinrich was injured). Perhaps this year that will change. Since the Hawks bench is so thin, he may be forced to give everyone a shot. Maybe a gem will be found like Ivan Johnson last year.

The Hawks are more than capable of making a playoff run. They should not be overlooked just because their six time all-star left. They are an experienced and battle-tested team that has the potential to make a lot of noise and cause an upset or two if they are thrown aside. The future is looking bright for NBA basketball in the Dirty South. It may be closer than most expect.

 

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11 Comments

  1. I’ll be sharing a lot about the Hawks and Nets this coming season so you will be more informed. Especially about an under-the-radar team like the Hawks that never seem to get any respect from anyone including TV networks.

  2. The Joe Johnson deal gave the Hawks a lot of salary cap flexibility. I’m not sure the roster as it is currently is a playoff caliber roster but I do like the Lou Williams signing. Lou is going to get a ton of minutes to put up points for his hometown squad.

  3. They have key guys returning and joining that have playoff experience. I think their starting five will be good enough to secure them a playoff spot. The big question mark is if they can get the bench going. Denver nearly beat LA without any clear star (Ty Lawson could be one in the making). Josh Smith is an uncharted one without a doubt. Al Horford has also quietly been a two time all-star. Jeff Teague is also bound for a breakout year with a full season ahead. Expect him in the Most Improved Player discussion. The Hawks can do it.

  4. There’s a reason they don’t get respect. They’re middle-dwellers. They continually make the playoffs only to be eliminated in the 1st or 2nd round.

    They’re not good enough to win it all, not horrible enough to get a great lottery pick to change things.

  5. They are/were more than a middle-of-the-pack team. Last year, they had a chance to do some serious damage in the playoffs. They had a solid bench (better than several teams’) and their starting five is athletic and full of talent. Injuries held them back. Also, limited financial flexibility held them from making better role player signings. However, now they have a massive amount of financial flexibility. Atlanta sports in general (excluding college football) seems to get no respect from even their fans. The Hawks are a good team. I enjoy watching their games, not just because I am a fan, but I find their team play exciting (especially last season) on both ends of the court. Regardless, not a lot of people show up to games even though they have a nice arena and good team. It is only full when a big name team comes to town. Then there are more supporters for the other team than the Hawks.

  6. I was a Hawks fan when I was younger. (Dominique, nuff said.)
    I agree with you that they have been hindered by JJ’s contract. Danny Ferry will not sit still for long as I believe he will change this. However, he won’t be able to make any major changes until next offseason. (unless he decides to up and trade J-Smoove) He’s positioned the Hawks to go after major free agents, namely Chris Paul and Dwight Howard.

    They are a playoff team this year at 7th or 8th seed, but next year they should be much better. Keep your chin up.

  7. Judging by the dismal fan support at the highlight factory, I’d be more worried about them becoming the next Seattle Supersonics.

  8. I project the Hawks to be roughly in that area. However, your statement of them finishing around 7th or 8th suggests that the Wizards will be higher than that…

  9. They should use Lou Williams in the EXACT-SAME CAPACITY as the 76ers did. 6th MAN!

    Lawson/Gallinari along with the development of McGee and a VERY DEEP bench make Denver scary.

    Also I should mention they’re coach by a guy named Karl.

  10. More likely than not that will be Lou’s role on the team. He is a great spark off the bench. Devin Harris will probably serve as the starting two.

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