In his Weekly NBA Power Rankings for our parent domainship, Tom Ziller has these kind words for the Atlanta faifthful:
The bottom half of our NBA Power Rankings are filled with teams that have either promised to keep fighting to tough-to-grab playoff spots, teams that have given up all hope and are building for next year, or, in the case of the Hawks, are just a lot worse than their record shows.
Oof. I know that Tom is likely looking at the easy schedule the Hawks played, their collective record against +.500 teams, seeing the back half of the schedule loaded with such teams, and said, "Self-destruction, they're headed for self-destruction" or "Breakdown Dead Ahead."
But those of us who understand the nature of these Hawks know that, it's not about the level of competition, just how disciplined they are from night to night. It doesn't matter who they play. They are quite capable of taking a top tier team to the woodshed, and also capable of grilling a stinkburger to the likes of a lottery team.
They aren't fool's gold, but they aren't 24 karat either.
Still Ziller tosses a bone to those who understand that the Hawks team defensive outlook got better at the trade deadline:
16. Atlanta Hawks (36-24, Prev: #14) -- Will defensive improvement with Kirk Hinrich replacing Mike Bibby be sustainable? Atlanta has the tools to be an elite defensive team. But they have to do it every night.
Well, they are better built to improve upon their overall defensive efficiency by simply playing Jeff Teague in Mike Bibby's slot and, with Horford, Smith, and Marvin on the job, they can on some night approach elite. But with a sorry bench and average guards defensively, they will always be just outside looking in on the top shelf.
Exit Questions: Is the ranking Ziller gave representative of where you think they are?