Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE
Given the unprecedented love the Atlanta Hawks are getting in the previews of the upcoming season longtime Hawks fans have to wonder --- Can this team deliver?
From the careful-what-you-wish-for chronicles comes the almost universal approval, nationally, of an Atlanta Hawks team that I thought would be underrated coming into the season.
When camp started, we heard media asking questions about the Hawks rebuilding, a notion quickly rebuffed by players like Louis Williams. Such a mindset allowed for a modest opinion of the good guys as a team that would be on the cusp of .500 and fighting for a playoff spot.
Recently, however, every savvy NBA talking head (that means, guys I like to read) has bought into the statistics that show, on paper, that this Hawks team shouldn't be much worse than last year's 50 win pace ballclub. Hollinger, Basketball Prospectus, The Basketball Jones guys, Bill Simmons -- they all concur -- watch out for the Hawks.
So, finally, national writers are saying watch out for the Hawks and people are not taking this team lightly, looking deeper into the team and predicting the same 45-48 wins that most of us on the site has predicted for the club.
So why worry?
Because what's on paper doesn't always translate to what happens on the court. Yes, the Hawks have brought in some very efficient scorers to replace Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams -- but we've yet to see if the aggregation of statistical substitutes can actually make that happen in real game action.
Translation? Can you throw a half dozen new rotational players and two new starters in the mix and still reach the level of success established prior? Will the more efficient offense balance a potential hit defensively?
With everyone so enthusiastically on the bandwagon now, my eeyorish tendencies regarding let down, too many people on one side of an argument combined with a severe case of Devil's Advocate Syndrome leads me to brace myself for the worst.
Also, look at how this new band of brothers break in the new season:
Game 1: Home against the Houston Rockets
James Harden is hot but the Rockets themselves are breaking in a new lineup.
Game 2: At Oklahoma City Thunder
I think they might still have some talent even after dealing Harden.
Game 3: Home against the Indiana Pacers
One of the many East teams given a chance for home court by the pundits -- at worst, a playoff caliber team.
Game 4: Home against the Miami Heat
Games 5, 6, 7 and 8: A six day, four game west coast swing to take on the Los Angeles Clippers (Paul and Blake), Portland Trail Blazers (Lillard Fever!), Golden State Warriors (dangerous at home) and wrap up against the Sacramento Kings.
Whew -- We could very well see folks swing from "Watch out for the Hawks!" to "Watch out for falling Hawks!" in the national mindset before the first month wraps up.
The silver lining is that, after seeing this crew play such stiff competition early on, we should get a good idea of if the foundation is there to make good on all the optimism -- or if there is a serious problem.
Exit Question: Do you think the Hawks will deliver on the optimism the national opinion has for the team?