The Atlanta Hawks are the darlings of the early NBA season. The Hawks have soared to second place in the Eastern Conference with a 23-8 record. Coach Mike Budenholzer has the Hawks playing consistent, unselfish basketball that makes them compelling to watch every night. Whether it’s star players like Al Horford and Paul Millsap or a young player like Dennis Schroder, a different person steps up every night. The Hawks sport marquee victories over NBA glamour teams like the Chicago Bulls, the Houston Rockets, the Dallas Mavericks, and the L.A Clippers. The Hawks have also beaten the Cleveland Cavaliers twice this year, including a 127-98 dismantling on the national stage. These Atlanta Hawks are ready for their close-up, these Atlanta Hawks are ready to rise up. However, to be so good this soon was never part of the plan.
Once Danny Ferry became the new general manager for the Atlanta Hawks, he had a clear plan. By trading Joe Johnson and letting Josh Smith walk, he wanted to clear cap space, get draft picks and sign free agents. He hired long time San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Mike Budenholzer as head coach. He was conservative in free agency, only signing Paul Millsap. The Hawks were expected to be a bad team, this diagnosis was confirmed when star player Al Horford fell victim to injury early last season. The Hawks players and coaches did not feel like following the instructions. The Atlanta Hawks played well enough to send Paul Millsap to his first All-Star game. In the opening round of last year’s playoffs, the No. 8 seed Atlanta Hawks pushed the No. 1 seed Indiana Pacers to their limits before succumbing in seven games.
Rebuilding a winner comes in many forms. The Atlanta Hawks have destroyed expectations and are drafting a new plan to contend now. With the Braves and Falcons walking backwards, the Atlanta Hawks are rising up and making people care and root for a home team to succeed.