The “Bad” Hawks Deserve Your Attention

Collins J Brevard-USA Today
John Collins (J. Brevard-USA Today)

Our Atlanta Hawks aren’t your typical bad NBA team.

According to ESPN’s Attendance Statistics, the Hawks currently rank 30th out of 30 NBA teams in attendance. This is hardly a surprise considering the names on the roster and the win-loss record. But the Atlanta Hawks deserve your attention.

The Hawks scored their sixth win of the season after a thrilling 117-110 victory over the Orlando Magic. Atlanta scored the game’s final nine points including some great hustle plays from Kent Bazemore and Tauren Prince.

At first glance, many people may look at the standings table, see 6-19/14th in the Eastern Conference and totally dismiss the Hawks as being abysmal. However that is not the case. Outside of five games this season, the team has been in position to win the game in the 4th quarter. They also have a win at Cleveland, came close to winning in San Antonio, Detroit, vs Boston twice among more.

Here are some numbers from NBAMath.com taking a deeper look at how the Hawks typically perform better than their record indicates.

Rolling Dashboard
Courtesy: NBA Math Rolling Team Ratings (NBAMath.com @NBA_Math)

The Hawks rank closer to the middle of the pack rather than the cellar when it comes to advanced numbers.

Beyond the numbers, the team is flat out fun to watch. They fight hard and give it their all. Not once this year have I attended or watched the game and was left with the feeling of “oh man, this team sucks”. Last year, countless games left me questioning whether or not the guys even cared about getting wins.

Before his injury, John Collins was really starting to emerge as not just a solid rookie but a top five Rookie of the Year candidate. The excitement factor with ‘John the Baptist’ is off the charts. It’s not just the dunks either, each game he has looked more and more comfortable on defense and in the pick and roll. He’s even been able to step outside and hit the mid range jumper a few times. His averages of 11.5 PPG and 7.1 RPG compare to our old friend Al Horford’s rookie year.

Tauren Prince and DeAndre’ Bembry’s continued development is also exciting to watch game by game. Prince has asserted himself as a reliable scorer averaging over 12 PPG, good for second on the team. Bembry’s Basketball IQ and defensive effort is enough to make any NBA Nerd glee with joy. He’s even been able to knock down a few threes.

Atlanta Hawks v Miami Heat
Isaiah Taylor (Hawks.com)

Throughout Bud’s tenure in Atlanta he has been able to turn “nothings” in to “somethings” time and time again. The emergence of Isaiah Taylor and Tyler Cavanaugh into serviceable rotation pieces is nothing short of amazing and attests to Mike Budenholzer’s coaching abilities.

The future is bright for the Hawks. This won’t be a long period of darkness like the 1998-2007 rebuild. The foundation is already set, with a dedicated owner, fantastic coach and bright young GM all in place. Not to mention, Point Guard Dennis Schroder who can become the first Hawk player since Joe Johnson to average 20 PPG over the course of the season.

All this losing does also come with a positive. The Hawks will likely be able to select in the top three of what will be a loaded draft next June. Additionally, we own up to two other first round picks. We may be able to acquire another one if the team decides to flip any of the vets (Marco Belenelli, Dewayne Dedmon, Ersan Ilyasova) to a contending team for another draft pick. While this may result in a few more losses in the short term, it could open up even more minutes for guys like John Collins, DeAndre Bembry and Tyler Dorsey.

If Travis Schlenk plays this right we could come out of this rebuild similarly to the Boston Celtics.

Come on down to Philips Arena, you won’t regret it. This team deserves your attention!

Phil Veasley

@_ATLPhil

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