For almost a decade the Atlanta Hawks have lived in complete mediocrity. It was following their acquisition of Joe Johnson that things finally started to turn around. In 2002 Bruce Levenson acquired the team and by 2007, with the acquisition of Al Horford alongside Joe Johnson, the squad started to seriously turn things around. In 2014 we saw Atlanta win 60 games and make it to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in 50 years. Now Levenson has opted to sell his ownership in the team in order to move on to other ventures, leaving Atlanta in a rather precarious situation.
The No Superstar Build
The NBA is often built around the idea that superstars rule the league. If you don’t have a superstar, according to this theory, you cannot be a legitimate contender. Last season the Hawks won 60 games despite the fact that no player scored even 17ppg on the team. Paul Millsap led the squad with a 16.7ppg average. However Atlanta’s entire starting five averaged double figures with Dennis Schroder coming off the bench for an additional 10. The team rode their well rounded line up farther than anybody could have guessed and now, after making it to the ECF, fans are wondering if Atlanta can repeat.
The biggest question Hawk fans are asking, in the wake of Levenson’s departure, is how will Atlanta hold up for another year with high expectations. The Hawks historically haven’t held on to long term success and they’ve struggled at times to progress in a logical manner. Losing Demarre Carroll and Mike Scott this past offseason, one to free agency and the other to drug issues, is likely going to shake things up enough to cause issues. Not only is their line up going to be different but the rest of the squads around them have gotten much better.
Take, for instance, the Miami Heat. Last season Miami was a bottom feeder thanks to LeBron’s departure and injury issues to Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. This past offseason the Heat resigned Wade, resigned Goran Dragic, and acquired both Amare Stoudemire and Gerald Green. This team, if healthy, could seriously contend in the Southeast. Then look at Washington. Washington acquired Jared Dudley, Gary Neal, and Ramon Sessions to round out their bench. Another year of evolution for John Wall and Bradley Beal could have them poised for a huge jump.
No matter what Atlanta does in 2016 the path has been laid out for expectations. Fans want to see Atlanta as an annual contender and the city deserves it. Atlanta is a huge NBA market and when the Hawks are good so is business in the city, making this season more important than ever.