Sports Illustrated lists Atlanta Hawks as ‘dark horse’ in Southeast Division


The Atlanta Hawks are having a bit of success in the early going of preseason, and on Tuesday, the team welcomed Al Horford back to the fold after more than ten months away due to injury. With optimism beginning to surface on the side of the team, Chris Johnson of Sports Illustrated has weighed in with his Southeast Division preview, and he lists Atlanta as the “dark horse” team of the group.

Here is what Johnson had to say in making that distinction:

"The Hawks failed to significantly improve their roster through free agency, but it’s hard to overstate the gravity of Horford’s return. With their versatile 6-foot-10 power forward at full strength, Atlanta posted a 16-13 record last season. Having him for 82 games, coupled with improvement from Teague and a shooting upturn from 3-and-D newcomer Sefolosha should position the Hawks to add a few wins to last season’s total (38)."

To paint the complete picture, Johnson does “pick” the Hawks as the fourth-place team in the division, which is actually lower than many pundits, but at the same time, he repeatedly mentions the “wide open” nature of the projection. It is easy to focus on the lack of a big name addition to the Hawks roster, but at the same time, they did address some real weaknesses with the addition of the aforementioned Thabo Sefolosha and Kent Bazemore, and in adding that to the return of Horford, there is room for growth.

What do you think of Johnson’s pick of the Hawks as the “dark horse” team? Can they win the Southeast Division if everything falls perfectly? Let us know in the comments below!