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Wondering if national writers are picking up Atlanta Hawks fever? While not as much love as maybe nodding to being potentially underrated, Zach Lowe of Grantland writes a complementary segment on the good guys.
Lowe, who previously seen linking to us from time to time in his fantastic The Point Forward space at SI.com, is now writing for Bill Simmons' Grantland team and delivers a good look at all the teams in the L by placing them into tiers.
And what tier do the Hawks end up, you may ask? Title Contenders(ha). Playoff team? Well...maybe it's best if you see it for yourself:
The Sneaky Good Team, in Their Way
They're a bit shallow and small on the wing, and those size issues mean they probably won't be one of the league's half-dozen or so stingiest defenses again this season. But people are sleeping on Atlanta if they think the Joe Johnson trade opened up an easy playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Few teams start a frontline combo as dynamic, on both ends, as the Josh Smith/Al Horford duo. If that's the foundation of your roster, even if it's just a one-year stopgap roster, you're off to a good start.
The combination of more Jeff Teague, Lou Williams, and a dramatic increase in accurate outside shooting should make up for the loss of Johnson's scoring and give Larry Drew the chance to build a faster, more varied offense. The small forward position is an issue, but Drew should be able to cobble together a night-to-night wing rotation out of Williams, Devin Harris (when paired with Teague), Anthony Morrow, Kyle Korver, John Jenkins, and even DeShawn Stevenson. Don't be shocked if Atlanta is playing in - and losing - the no. 4/no. 5 series in the first round.
I'd call that a ringing endorsement of the take we just put forth earlier today. Playing for the 4th/5th seed probably means between 45-49 wins, which might sound about right. Despite the early season schedule, which should give all of us a pretty good indication if we're right or not about staying afloat this season, playoff-wise, this team is starting to be seen by writers, as Lowe aptly puts it, as sneaky good.
Go read the whole thing -- very excited to see Lowe cut loose on those epic Grantland opuses this season, lending NBA readers a fantastic resource on which to read about their game.
Here's hoping for a 2,500 word production on why Josh Smith should be an All-Star this season. Viva blogging freedom!