ESPN.com updated its Future Power Rankings and the Atlanta Hawks slipped backwards three spots from No. 15 last August to No. 18. The biggest reason for the slide is due to the uncertainty surrounding the team's roster going forward. The Hawks have Al Horford signed to a very good contract but Lou Williams is coming off of an ACL injury and John Jenkins will be entering just his second season. The return of Jeff Teague and Josh Smith is possible but the article also cites Atlanta's trouble in luring stars and quality to players to the franchise in free agency.
GM Danny Ferry will have to persuade players to come to a franchise that historically has struggled to draw fans, even when they're winning, and routinely sees bigger support for the visiting team. The thought of teaming Chris Paul and Dwight Howard in Atlanta seems like a great idea, but it's highly unlikely given the new collective bargaining agreement makes it unlucrative for free agents to leave their current teams. Meanwhile, the futures of restricted free agent Jeff Teague and unrestricted free agent Josh Smith need to be decided upon, further complicating any possible future plans.
The Hawks moved up to No. 15 last August virtually on the hire of Danny Ferry and the trades of Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams. The same questions about the roster longterm existed then so dropping Atlanta backwards especially on the heels of Mike Budenholzer's hiring seems a little odd.
If its worth anything, there is currently more of a positive buzz from the national media surrounding the Hawks than we have seen in some time. However, at some point it will have to translate to wins on the court to fully win over the home crowd.