Atlanta Hawks: Would A Hot Start Silence Critics?


The Atlanta Hawks are contender in the Eastern Conference, but not seen as an ECF bound team by pundits at large. Would a 14-6 start to 2015-16 change that?

Are the Atlanta Hawks a 60 win team again in 2015-16? Probably not, but they should perform better than a 50 win team in the third year of the Mike Budenholzer Era in Atlanta. From what I’ve gathered from many national media sources, the Atlanta Hawks should win 50 games with a slight chance to get back to the Eastern Conference Finals. To me, that’s underselling the team and here’s why.

-= See Also: Thabo Sefolosha Acquitted of All Charges =-

It’s not that the Atlanta Hawks have taken a step back by any means, it’s that the media believes that other teams will ascend Atlanta in 2016. Who are they thinking will do that? Atlanta has the best odds to win the Southeast Division in 2016 and that should get the team at least a 3-seed in the 2016 Eastern Conference.

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I’m thinking about who besides the Cleveland Cavaliers is clearly a better team than the Atlanta Hawks. Is Chicago a better team this year with a new HC in Fred Hoiberg? Does Milwaukee improve on offense while keeping their defensive tenacity for HC Jason Kidd? Does Miami have a deep enough bench to remain competitive? Can the Wizards take the next step forward?

Of any team in the East entering the season, I think Atlanta is in the best spot. They addressed the DeMarre Carroll departure in the aggregate through trading for both Tiago Splitter and Tim Hardaway, Jr. Getting back a healthy and acquitted Thabo Sefolosha along with signing Justin Holiday improves defensive depth out on the wing. Let’s not forget the in-house improvements that come with the player development system in place under Coach Bud.

So is a 14-6 start to 2015-16 (.700 winning percentage) going to stand as enough to prove to the critics that last year was no fluke for this team? Is it possible?

I think so. If you look at the Atlanta Hawks’ first 20 games of 2015-16, the schedule starts out very favorably for the club. They should win their first three games to round out October: Detroit, @New York, Charlotte.

If you look at their 17 games on the slate for November, I like Atlanta to go 11-6 or 12-5: @Charlotte, @Miami, Brooklyn, @New Orleans, Washington, Minnesota, New Orleans, @Boston, Utah, @Brooklyn, Sacramento, @Cleveland, Boston, @Minnesota, @Memphis, @San Antonio, Oklahoma City.

They have some tough road games in November. Between New Orleans, Boston, Cleveland, Memphis, and San Antonio, I think the Hawks win 2 of those 5 games. They may drop a game or two at home, with New Orleans, Washington, and Oklahoma City as the most likely defeats, should they arise.

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So we’re looking at a team that should go around 14-6 to start the year. It’s hard to deny a team that has a .700 winning percentage through the first quarter of the season. I think if Atlanta hovers around .650 this season, they have a great opportunity to prove doubters wrong and contend in the East again this season.

I expect at least one other team in the East besides the Atlanta Hawks to come out of the gates playing great basketball. Oddly enough, I don’t think it will be Cleveland, as they still need to figure out the Tristan Thompson situation within their front office. Cleveland will certainly make their moves in the second half.

Should the Atlanta Hawks sit at 1 or 2 in the East by the start of December, I can’t see how critics can discredit this team entering the final month of 2015. Let’s Go Hawks!

Next: Atlanta Hawks Building Chemistry, Momentum Early

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