Hawks fans, take a second, reflect, and think how incredible this year has been. The Atlanta Hawks (55-17) have finally sealed the number 1 seed in the playoffs and will be representing the Eastern Conference. Many NBA fans believed Atlanta was a playoff caliber team, but few predicted they would finish above teams such as Cleveland and Chicago. Despite the doubters, Atlanta has finished as the top seed. Obviously the playoffs are more important than the regular season, but give this team some credit. They proved experts wrong, they played as a team, they are well-coached, and they are peaking towards 60 wins. Even though he has been on a leave of absence, GM Danny Ferry deserves a lot of credit for what he’s done since he came to Atlanta in 2012. Ferry came in and went right to work on trying to rebrand our organization. He traded Joe Johnson and his horrendous contract, he traded one of the biggest busts in Marvin Williams, and he let Josh Smith walk. While many questioned letting Josh Smith walk, he clearly made the right choice. Many were excited about trading Joe Johnson and his contract to the Brooklyn Nets, and due to this we still maintain financial flexibility. And then Ferry used his magic once again, trading the guy Atlanta drafted instead of Chris Paul, Marvin Williams. Ferry proved to Hawks fans that he was going to find the right team with the right coach; and he sure did. He fired Larry Drew and brought in Mike Budenholzer, an assistant under the outstanding head coach, Gregg Popovich, for 17 years.
In his second year as the Atlanta Hawks head coach, Budenholzer is currently a candidate and likely front runner for NBA Coach of the Year. When Coach Budenholzer arrived in Atlanta, he envisioned building a team like his former team, the San Antonio Spurs. San Antonio is coached by one of the best basketball coaches of all time, they have always played as a team, and they have incredible team chemistry. Coach Bud knew that was the formula to success in this league and he wanted to implement it to his new organization. Two summers ago, the Hawks would added Paul Millsap and Demarre Carroll, who eventually became starters for the team. They re-signed Kyle Korver and Jeff Teague and made sure those two were not leaving Atlanta anytime soon. They drafted a point guard out of Germany who is a candidate for sixth man of the year, Dennis Schröder. The Hawks front office was trying to solve the pieces to the puzzle, and it looks like the pieces maybe complete. Atlanta knew they could play with any team after last years playoff series against the Indiana Pacers. The Hawks were 38-44 and were the 8-seed, facing the powerhouse number 1 team, the Indiana Pacers. Atlanta came in and took Indiana to 7 games, where Indiana eventually came out victorious. Atlanta fans were used to the feeling of dismay, as we have been let down many of times, but those players and coaches knew they had a real basketball team.
Atlanta came in and exceeded expectations this year by a long shot. Did NBA experts or fans expect Atlanta to represent the Eastern Conference as the top seed in the playoffs? I will give you the answer; hell no. Many Atlanta fans feel like the Falcons, Hawks, and Braves are never talked about and do not get respect they deserve. In order to earn respect, these teams have to earn it. The Hawks are headed in the right direction and have put everybody on notice. Some people still say that the Hawks will struggle in the playoffs without a superstar, but fans will have to find out how winning basketball is played. This is one of the most unselfish teams the NBA has seen in years. Atlanta might not have a LeBron James, Steph Curry, or James Harden leading their team, but Atlanta has all the right pieces of the puzzle and operate as a unit, whether you’re in the starting lineup or coming off the bench. The Hawks have had an incredible regular season and on pace to set the best record in franchise history, but there is one question that every NBA fan would like to know; How will the Atlanta Hawks do in the playoffs? I guess we will keep on riding and find out what’s in store come playoff time.