The Atlanta Hawks: contender, pretender, or mystery object behind door number three? (which of course, is always terrible)
As the beginning of the 2012-13 season nears (which for the Hawks, is Nov. 2nd against Houston), we thought it was time that we here at HawksHoop released our predictions for the Atlanta Hawks’ ceiling, floor, and our predictions for the season.
1. What is the ceiling for the Hawks this season?
Jerold Wells, HawksHoop: For a ceiling I’d say these Atlanta Hawks could overachieve at a 55 win clip. An uptempo team featuring guards that can score, bigs that will outrun most 4s and 5s and a coach willing to put the ball in his best player’s hands with a “go win the game” imperative could turn into something special.
Bo Churney, HawksHoop: I don’t think this team is any worse than the Joe Johnson teams, which seemingly hit its ceiling in the 09-10 season with 53 victories. With the logjam of teams “meh” teams behind Miami, 53 wins could be good enough for 2nd in the East. However, I think this happens if, and only if, Josh Smith and Al Horford both play like All-Stars this year.
Nubyjas Wilborn, HawksHoop: I know Bradford Doolittle of Basketball Prospectus predicted the Hawks as the 2nd best team in the East. That is a bit too rich for my blood. I believe the ceiling for the Hawks is the 4th seed. Heat, Celtics, & Pacers in my opinion are all better than the Hawks. But I do believe the Hawks can be in the mix with the Rose-less Bulls, questionable Knicks, uncertain Nets and oft-injured Bucks.
2. What is the floor for the Hawks this season?
Wells: A floor for this team would be to finish under .500 and out of the playoffs. The casual fan may see this as a year for the Hawks to regress and go back to being a below average team incapable of scoring or defending above the league average.
Churney: I think the team’s floor isn’t the worst record it could finish with, but how much the future of the team could be negatively effected. Even though most see this as a “throwaway” year, barely missing the playoffs wouldn’t be a great step in coaxing the big market free agents to move to the A. Finishing 9th or 10th would essentially be a catastrophe; the team loses the playoff revenue, and then fails to gain a draft pick worth that loss.
Wilborn: It could certainly go all bad for the Hawks and they could finish way out of the playoffs. Fortunately the Wizards, Bobcats, Raptors and Magic are so awful the Hawks can’t possibly finish behind those wretched squads.
3. Where do you think the Hawks will actually finish?
Wells: I see the Atlanta Hawks winning 49 games and finishing as the 5 seed in the East. They’ll take the Brooklyn Nets to 7 games in the 4-5 opening round series and lose on a Joe Johnson 3 with no time left on the clock.
Churney: I predict Atlanta finishing 4th behind the Heat, Celtics, and Nets. I think Horford and Josh will be enough to keep the defense up to par, combined with a new, reinvigorated offensive attack. Unfortunately for the Hawks, I think the 5th seed will be a Chicago team that’s getting into a groove under a returned Derrick Rose.
Wilborn: Hawks will compete for the 7-8 seed and maybe the sixth seed. While I am still concerned with lack of a true small forward and I’m not convinced this team can guard a paper bag. I do feel they can and will score lots of points and stay in games. Their fast pace will give older teams like the Celtics all types of fits but won’t be enough to get into the Eastern Conference upper crust.