The 50-win summer forecast might seem like a steep descent. After all, as good as [DeMarre] Carroll might be, he’s not worth 10 wins, and Atlanta did add Tiago Splitter and Tim Hardaway Jr. during the summer. Yet the forecast and my system agree that while Atlanta remains a force, last season was an outlier.
Prior to last season I took exception with low expectations from national NBA analysts, including Reggie Miller and Rick Fox, who predicted that the Hawks would miss the playoffs. In contrast to those who believed the Hawks would struggle to secure the eighth seed, I wrote that the Hawks could and should compete for the conference’s top seed:
Assuming Al Horford is able to fully recover from his most recent injury and have a healthy season, I believe the Hawks should be aiming for the top seed in the Eastern Conference.
My argument was that, since the Hawks took the Pacers to seven games (and should have put them away) and the Pacers took the Heat to six games in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Hawks should be competitive with the top teams in the East in 2014-15:
Keep in mind that the Hawks pushed the Pacers to seven games, a team that may have been better than any team in the Eastern Conference this season.
If Paul George didn’t break his leg during a Team USA scrimmage in Las Vegas, the Pacers would have been the favorites in the East last season. Indiana would have retained continuity while LeBron James worked to build chemistry in Cleveland and the Heat dealt with his departure. If the Hawks took those Pacers to the brink of elimination, what would Atlanta be capable of with a healthy Al Horford? Last season, we got the answer: 60 wins. Continue Reading…