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Atlanta Hawks Top 10 stories of 2014 Part 1

We take a look back at 2014 and the biggest stories surrounding the Atlanta Hawks.

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

If you missed Part 1 of this series click here first to see the stories that just missed out on our Top 10 list of the top storylines surrounding the Atlanta Hawks in 2014.

10. Mike Muscala arrives from Spain

When Mike Muscala headed to Spain to participate in the Spanish ACB we thought it would be at least a season or two before we saw him in an Atlanta uniform. However, season-ending injuries to Al Horford and Gustavo Ayon and an ankle injury to Pero Antic decimated Atlanta's front court depth. That led the Hawks back to Muscala who was enjoying a solid start to his rookie season in the Spanish ACB.

Atlanta successfully negotiated Muscala's buyout and his signing was announced on February 27. It was an improbable journey for a second-round pick. Muscala appeared in 20 games for the Hawks during the 2014 season and averaged 3.8 points and 2.6 rebounds. He showed a lot of improvement in summer league and has made the most of his opportunities when called upon this season.

Muscala's situation signaled a new direction for the Hawks franchise in terms of player development. Atlanta has shown that they are comfortable in drafting players and sending them overseas to further their development. They took a similar path with 2014 draft picks Walter Tavares and Lamar Patterson. Atlanta has also been one of the most active in the league in terms of using the D-League this season as Muscala, Adreian Payne and John Jenkins have all had multiple assignments as a way to get some much valuable time on the court.

9. Lou Williams traded to Toronto

Atlanta had a pretty quiet offseason in terms of player personnel but they did make one significant move trading Atlanta native Lou Williams and former first-round pick Lucas Nogueira to the Toronto Raptors for John Salmons. Williams' stint in Atlanta was clouded due to an ACL injury suffered during the previous season. Lou returned but struggled to regain his form and wasn't a great fit for Atlanta's new system under Mike Budenholzer.

Nogueira went to summer league with the Hawks but returned to Spain. His battled an injury plagued season thanks to a severe case of tendinitis in his knees. He returned to the United States for treatment and missed two months before returning to Estudiantes to finish the Spanish ACB season.

Atlanta waived Salmons and cleared a large chunk of salary cap space. The team spent part of that space on re-signing Shelvin Mack and Mike Scott along with the additions of Thabo Sefolosha and Kent Bazemore.

Noguiera got his wish and signed a contract with the Raptors but has had limited impact during his rookie season. Williams though has returned to form and has been a solid contributor to Toronto's hot start to the season.

8. Hawks start season with a 23-8 record and go 14-2 in December

While a some were optimistic about the Hawks coming into the season few thought they'd get off to this kind of start. As the year turns to 2015, Atlanta is 23-8 and just a half game behind the Toronto Raptors for first place in the Eastern Conference.

The Hawks started the season 5-5 but then found a groove that culminated in a nine-game winning streak. That streak came to an end thanks to a Tobias Harris buzzer-beater in Orlando but Atlanta's winning ways didn't disappear. The Hawks bounced back quickly with a home win over the Chicago Bulls. They then began a difficult road trip with a blowout win in Cleveland over the CavaliersThey defeated Houston and Dallas on the road and then returned home to defeat the Los Angeles Clippers. In all the Hawks finished December 14-2 which equalled an Atlanta record.

7. Al Horford returns from second pectoral injury

The 2014 season for the Atlanta Hawks went off the rails once Al Horford was lost for the season due to a torn pectoral muscle in late December. It was the second pectoral injury in three seasons for Horford and the Hawks struggled their way to an eighth place finish without him.

One of the strongest sources of optimism around the team was the potential return of Horford who is an All-Star caliber player at both ends of the floor. Horford made it back during the preseason when he suited up for the first time in a win over the Miami Heat.

It was a long road back and it was December before Horford started to resemble the player that many Hawks fans had come to expect. He was named NBA Player of the Week for the second time in his career in December and has successfully reintegrated himself into the lineup.

6. Kyle Korver's three-point streak ends in Portland

All good things must eventually come to an end. That was the case for Kyle Korver's consecutive games streak with a made three-pointer that ended at 127 games during a blowout loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. Korver has drawn respect from around the league for his shooting and his streak proved to be one of the most talked about stories of the Hawks'  2013-14 season. He set the bar high by blasting past the previous record set by Dana Barros and its a record that doesn't figure to be equalled anytime soon.