The biggest surprise in the Eastern Conference has been the Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks are 37-8 and on top of the Eastern Conference standings. The Hawks are currently six and a half games ahead of Washington in the Eastern Conference standings. The Hawks are carrying momentum from their hard fought playoff series against the Pacers last spring. The Hawks have gotten off to a great start and are currently riding a 16 game win streak. The Hawks have a great opportunity to extend the streak as five of their next six games are at home. After Golden State’s loss last night, Atlanta has a great opportunity to get home court advantage throughout the playoffs if they can continue their winning. The Hawks have achieved their success this season through a balanced scoring attack.
The Hawks have had success this year by having great team work and featuring a balanced attack. The Hawks have five players averaging between 12 and 17 points per game. Besides maybe Al Horford, none of the players are regarded as an All-Star caliber player. The Hawks have built their success from a bunch of cast offs that other teams did not want. Jeff Teague was a late 1st round pick. Kyle Korver was a bench player for the Bulls who struggled in the 2011 playoffs and has become a clutch shooter for the Hawks. Paul Millsap was not wanted by the Jazz. Demarre Carroll was a journeyman bench player that has become a double digit scorer for the Hawks. The Hawks have built a five headed scoring monster with a bunch of players other teams did not want. The Hawks have modeled their team after the Spurs approach by former Spurs assistant Mike Budenholzer. Budenholzer was a San Antonio assistant for 17 years so he is well versed in the San Antonio style of basketball. The Hawks have built a team approach where all five players can score the ball. This is a departure from the traditional strategy of basketball where there are one or two main scoring options. The Hawks have built a monster from the scrap heap of basketball.
Atlanta has always underperformed given the resources they have. Atlanta is one of the biggest markets in the United States. Atlanta is one of the most attractive markets for free agents. Atlanta is a big city with warm weather. Dallas and Houston have tasted championship glory but Atlanta is still waiting for its’ turn. Atlanta has had good teams in the past from Dominique Wilkins to the Hawks of the 90s with Steve Smith and Dikembe Mutumbo. The Hawks of the 90s gave the Bulls a lot of difficult battles over the years. The Hawks are now back in contention for the Eastern Conference. The Hawks will likely have home court advantage through the East. I do not think the Hawks will make it out of the East. The Hawks do not have enough experience yet to navigate through the playoffs. The Hawks do not have an elite closer as well to win games in the 4th quarter. Going forward, the Hawks have established themselves as contenders in the Eastern Conference. The Hawks are one of the biggest stories of the 2015 NBA season.