August is, almost unquestionably, the dead period with regard to the NBA, and knowing that (as we do), ESPN has begun their yearly roll-out of a "summer forecast" with regard to the upcoming season. In the first installment, a panel of more than 210 "members who contribute to ESPN's NBA coverage" projected the Atlanta Hawks to finish as the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference with a final record of 42-40.
The full listing can be seen here, but at first glance, this feels slightly on the low side. The Hawks managed to squeak out 38 wins without the benefit of a healthy Al Horford last season, and if anything, the supporting cast has been soundly improved by swapping the likes of Lou Williams and Cartier Martin out for Adreian Payne, Thabo Sefolosha and Kent Bazemore.
Obviously, the Eastern Conference has undergone a significant overhaul, with LeBron James heading to Cleveland, Derrick Rose returning for Chicago and teams like Charlotte (Lance Stephenson) and Washington (Paul Pierce) tweaking quality rosters. Still, this feels like yet another instance of the Atlanta Hawks flying under the radar from a national perspective, and it will be interesting to gauge reaction as this projection makes the rounds in the coming days.
What say you?