Let me rephrase that, the Atlanta Hawks are 14-7, second in the division, third in the Eastern Conference and are still trying mold together since this is still practically a new team. Not bad so far for a team that was questioned at the beginning of the season for making the playoffs after losing their "best" player and All-star guard. But moving on, lets see what what everyone else in the basketball world thinks about our fun to watch and surprising team. Seth Rosenthal for SB Nation will start us of this week by having our guys at the #8 spot.
Saturday's blowout loss to those Warriors was Atlanta's first thoroughly awful game in quite a while. That and the loss in Miami interrupted what's otherwise been a fine defensive stretch with much-improved rebounding to boot.
John Schumann over at NBA.com drops us to 8 but still compliments (I think) this new team in Atlanta.
8 Atlanta (14-7)
Pace: 94.8 (11), OffRtg: 102.1 (13), DefRtg: 98.5 (4)
It's amazing how the Hawks, after such a shakeup to their core, have nearly identical offensive and defensive numbers (shooting, turnovers, rebounding, free throw rate) as they had last year. Unfortunately, their top-five defense didn't hold up in tests against the Heat or Warriors last week. They rank 18th in 3-point defense and have allowed nine or 10 threes in each of their last three losses.
Marc Stein also has us at 8 mentioning how even with the losses, Atlanta is still a top 5 defensive team.
8 The Hawks bookended last week with L's in the games that meant most, first dropping a divisional showdown in Miami and ultimately getting routed at home by scorching Golden State. Yet they remain a top-five defensive team, to uphold their status as one of the season's big early surprises.
Kurt Helin with Nbcsports.com moves us down one spot from last week to #8 (I'm seeing a pattern) after a rough week with a couple of losses against good teams.
8. Hawks (14-7, LW 7). They lost to the Heat and Warriors last week, following their pattern of struggling against better teams. Thunder, Sixers and Bulls on the schedule this week to provide some tests.
Somehow at foxsports.com, Sam Amico has us staying at the...............you guessed it the #8 position.
Larry Drew was supposed to be on the hot seat entering the season. Now, he’s a coach of the year possibility. Helps that Josh Smith is playing like the Hawks always knew he could.
Eric Pincus at Hoopsworld.com has us at #8 while (don't laugh) complimenting Josh Smith's jump shooting this year.
Josh Smith is shooting a more-efficient 40.6% from three-point range, but in lower volume.
The last ranking that I managed to find is the most recent rankings that Matt Dollinger at SI.com has released. For those that can't guess it by now, he has at us also at #8 while complimenting the surprising defense we have put up.
Atlanta has won five of six to start December since a Nov. 30 home loss to the Cavaliers ended its six-game winning streak. Defense continues to be key, as the Hawks rank fifth in points allowed per possession and have held opponents to 90 points or fewer in three of the last four games. The Hawks have also not allowed an opponent to shoot above 50 percent this season. Atlanta has used that defense to fluster some of the league's best offenses -- the Grizzlies, Clippers and Thunder among them -- forcing turnovers on 16.5 percent of opponents' possessions, the highest mark in the league.
So that's it for this weeks rankings, if I had to take a guess it would be that we apparently are the 8th best team in the NBA even with the 2 rough losses we had this week. Hopefully this team will continue to build on what has been what I'm sure all of us would think has been a rather surprising season. But as always leave your thought about this weeks rankings and if you agree with the unanimous #8 ranking.