The national media doesn't really know what to make of the Atlanta Hawks and their 15-6 start to the season. It's one thing that the team is 15-6 but it is another when you factor in how the team has performed since the injury to Al Horford. Perhaps SB Nation's Tom Ziller sums it up best while moving the Hawks to No. 7 in this week's power rankings.
7. Atlanta Hawks 15-6 W: MIL, DET, NO; L: SA Peachtree Hoops They just keep on winning ...
Despite a 3-1 week from the Hawks, ESPN.com's Marc Stein holds Atlanta steady at No. 9 this week pointing out a lack of quality opponents as a potential reason for their success:
You know what? The Hawks' 8-2 record without Al Horford -- with only three of those wins coming against teams (Wolves, Blazers, Bucks) playing what you'd call decent basketball -- is a touch easier to explain than the fact Horford was averaging only a modest 12.4 ppg and 7.0 rpg when he got hurt.
Stein could be missing the point because the Hawks are one of the few teams in the league that has actually been playing "decent basketball"
After a few weeks of not believing, NBA.com's John Schuhmann moves the Hawks up six spots to No. 4 this week trailing only Miami, Oklahoma City and Chicago. His write up contains something that fans aren't used to hearing associated with this Hawks club.
Pace: 93.0 (22), Off: 102.5 (9), Def: 95.6 (4)
Atlanta is mostly winning with defense, while getting just enough offense from Joe Johnson and a random teammate selected nightly. Marvin Williams has made 10 of his last 13 threes, and Johnson's wild three at the end of regulation helped the Hawks pull a victory out of thin air in Detroit on Friday.
The Hawks are also climbing in Chris Sheridan's Sunday Power Rankings moving up five spots this week to No. 6.He even throws in a juicy rumor to go along with his praise of the Hawks early season success.
LAST WEEK: 2-1 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: SAT vs PHI
I'll bump their number of quality wins up to 4 by recategorizing 1/14 victory over Minnesota. Lost by 22 to Spurs and needed OT to beat Pistons last week, but 4-0 week is possibly ahead of them (no back-to-backs) if they beat Sixers on Friday night in what should be a letdown game for Philly a night after death match with Heat. Rumblings around the league that they are looking to shed payroll.
If the Hawks are still actually over the luxury tax number as Bret at Hoopinion reported earlier this week then yes the Hawks are looking to shed more payroll. As always their salary structure is a huge deterrent for any potential roster strengthening moves coming down the stretch.
Atlanta comes in at No. 5 on Tuesday in John Hollinger's daily Power Rankings at ESPN.com.