What is this team’s ceiling? This is the biggest question surrounding the 2015-16 Atlanta Hawks. Can they get back to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2016? Potentially, but they are nowhere near the favorite to face the Cleveland Cavaliers in the ECF.
At the All-Star break, the two teams in the East that are clearly better than the Atlanta Hawks are the top-seeded Cleveland Cavaliers and the Atlantic Division leading Toronto Raptors. Atlanta will have to beat one of those two teams in the Eastern Conference Semifinals to get back to the ECF.
Realistically, Atlanta should have no issues getting out of the first round, but will need some help in getting back to the ECF. Getting to the Eastern Conference Finals would mean that the 2015-16 Atlanta Hawks are championship caliber. Unless the team elevates considerably in the final weeks of this season, they won’t get back to the ECF.
What will team look like in a week? What may end up being a huge reason for the Atlanta Hawks’ good, but not great first half is that the front office is taking any and every call with regards to trading their starters.
Jeff Teague and Al Horford are possibly on the trade block and even Kyle Korver and Paul Millsap’s names have circulated in the NBA trade deadline rumor mill as well. Reportedly, Atlanta wants a dynamite offer for any of their starters, but may not get what they covet in return.
The Hawks could stay pat and address its roster in free agency and the NBA Draft this offseason, but we may only see this current incarnation of this club for maybe another week. The NBA trade deadline in 3:00 PM ET, Thursday, February 18th.
Who emerges as a second half star? Regardless of how the 2015-16 NBA season ultimately shakes out for the Atlanta Hawks, because of the strong player development culture in place on Mike Budenholzer’s staff, we will see a player on this roster become a better player in the second half.
Last year, we saw DeMarre Carroll and Kent Bazemore shine in the second half for the Atlanta Hawks. Carroll earned a huge payday on the free agent market with the Toronto Raptors and Bazemore proved enough to Coach Bud that he could become a starter in 2015-16.
Whether it is Dennis Schroder, Mike Scott, Thabo Sefolosha, or even Tim Hardaway, Jr. some reserve/rotational piece on the 2015-16 Atlanta Hawks will elevate his play down the stretch to end up helping the team get back to the Eastern Conference Finals. In Bud We Trust, Let’s Go Hawks!