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Atlanta Hawks: ESPN's Summer Forecast Cloudy with a Chance 8th Place

<strong>ESPN survey gives the Hawks a puncher's chance, but predicts a tough go of it in 2012-2013.</strong>
ESPN survey gives the Hawks a puncher's chance, but predicts a tough go of it in 2012-2013.

It was like I could hear Steve Harvey, "100 ESPN Basketball Minds Surveyed. Top 8 answers are on the board. Name an Eastern Conference playoff team." Atlanta Hawks I blurted out as my family halfheartedly say "good answer, good answer."

Steve Harvey continues, "Survey says? #8. Good job but your opponent can steal the question." #8? Weren't the Hawks projected #2 on ESPN earlier this week? Is Steve Harvey messing with me? No, it just goes to show you how wide and varied the assessments are on the Hawks going into this season. The article is primary just a list with a couple selected reaction comments for each team.

@TVFilmTalk: Does Danny Ferry want Hawks to be good to attract free agents or bad to get prime draft pick? Eighth in the East is worst of all worlds.
@AriFelsen: Atlanta may fall to the 7th or 8th seed in the East, but they will definitely finish with at least 45 wins.

That list is a tabulation of those varied opinions from 100 ESPN basketball employees. I'm not sure how much time those people spend watching the Hawks, but I imagine that even among the Hawks fans the assessments are quite varied. The fun thing to me is to look at the list and try to infer what most of those basketball minds were thinking. Celtics #2, I guess they like the off-season additions and believe the Kevin Garnett resurgence of late last year will continue on. Bulls #4, maybe they didn't realize that the bench was swapped part of ours or how long Rose is to be out? Nets #5, so they really believe in Joe Johnson or maybe they are too expensive to fail. Knicks #7, maybe a post-Linsanity hangover?

Hawks #8, what could it mean? Maybe they see defensive shortcomings in our lineup? Maybe they think no one will step up in crunch time to replace Joe when we need a shot? Maybe they didn't realize that last year's record was built without Al Horford for over 80% of the season? Maybe they don't believe Josh can step up to be the team superstar? Or maybe the Hawks got downgraded for being in the same division as the official Basketball team of ESPN? Whatever the individual reasons, their survey of ESPN basketball minds boiled it down to the Hawks dead center in the middle of the East with a slightly below .500 record. To be honest, I prefer the team be challenged by doubters like this list than coddled by sunny projections. I think the Hawks will rise up to the challenge and prove the doubters wrong finishing in the top 4, but I also dream about being on Family Feud so maybe I'm not best person to say.

Exit Question(s): What do you think were the primary reasons behind the lower projection for the Hawks? Do you agree with ESPN's list? What would you change?