ESPN projects Hawks to finish 6th in the East

ESPN recently did a piece forecasting the results of the Eastern Conference this upcoming season. The Hawks came in 6th, with an expected record of 44-38. That is four wins off last season’s total. Let’s take a look at how they project the rest of the Eastern Conference.

1. Cleveland Cavaliers (57-25)

2. Boston Celtics (51-31)

2. Toronto Raptors (51-31)

4. Detroit Pistons (45-37)

4. Indiana Pacers (45-37)

6. Atlanta Hawks (44-38)

7. Charlotte Hornets (43-39)

8. Washington Wizards (41-41)

9. Chicago Bulls (40-42)

10. New York Knicks (40-42)

11. Milwaukee Bucks (39-43)

12. Miami Heat (36-46)

13. Orlando Magic (35-47)

The reason for the Hawks’ drop off in wins according to ESPN is the difference between Howard and Horford. Horford was a much more effective player last season than Howard was. But that was last season, and there is just no way a healthy Howard performs as poorly as he did last year. Howard will be better on the Hawks, but that does not necessarily mean they will have a better record. It is going to take time for things to gel, but the Hawks are a much deeper team than last year. If things go right, Atlanta could easily be in for a 50+ win season, but if things go wrong they might struggle to 40.

The biggest takeaway from these protections is just how deep the East is this season. The Western Conference is now officially the much weaker conference. Sure they feature some elite teams like Golden State and San Antonio, but the East is absolutely loaded from top to bottom. Orlando, who the projections have coming in 13th in the East, thinks they have a great shot a earning a top four seed this season. Teams that are filled with stars like the Knicks, Bulls and Heat are not even projected to make into the playoffs this season. That is why it is imperative that the Hawks get off to a good start because there are going to be a bevy of teams lurking for a playoff spot and a .500 record is not going to cut it.


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