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Hawks and Warriors: Who is the best in the NBA?

A debate I didn't think we'd have to have this season. Second place is the second winner in this scenario, I say.

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Sure, when we all predicted the Hawks to have mid to high forties in wins for the season we didn't think they would close in on it before February, but I'm sure I can answer for everybody (all of those, of course, except the "BLOW IT UP" tankerotti) when I say that we'll take it.

Little did I know that our team, the little Atlanta Hawks that could, the team whose claim to fame across the fabric of the NBA fans was that an old logo of ours unintentionally looked like an iconic video game, would be the subject of a "Is this the best team in the league?" type non-fictional articles.

Now, mix in that the tremendous talents over at numberFire have decided it's time to tackle the subject and we're simply living the fan dream right now, fam.

Bryan Mears takes on the topic for numberFire and comes in with what you might find as a surprising ending:

Don't get me wrong -- the majority of the basketball community agrees that the Warriors are very good. However, there seems to be a growing consensus that the Atlanta Hawks are the best team in the NBA.

I'm not entirely sure why this is a growing belief, as statistically, the Warriors are still the best team in the NBA. Actually, they're very significantly the best team in the NBA. And it's really not close.

The statistics are sound so definitely go read it and it backs up the extensive amount of viewing of the Warriors I've seen having done a significant bit of due diligence losing FanDuel games in daily fantasy basketball to rosters that have a number of Warriors on them. So stats + my Eye Test = Absolutely right, yes? Wait, don't answer that.

The Warriors have more firebombers, more size, more Steph Curry and Klay Thompson -- and when Andrew Bogut is back in the mix, the defense tightens up even more. They are remarkable and it's not surprising that numberFire shows they could be an all-time team.

One thing I would like to see is if those guys could look at the same two teams during the Hawks massive run of wins since around the beginning of December. The W's lost Bogut for a good bit of time and obviously the Hawks can't be hotter than they are. It would be interesting to see if the gap shrinks somewhat then, though I would expect that the uber-efficient Warriors would still be on top.

So if even I think the Warriors are the better team then how is this even a topic of conversation, as the piece asks?

I think the "Hawks are the best team" narrative spins from two places:

1. A lot of people underestimated the team and they are overcompensating to show they see it now. It's more than a little bit embarrassing when a team that you dismissed, didn't talk about and certainly didn't even consider playoff worthy is now the top team in the East and shredding the competition, including the Western Conference in their houses. So now they want everyone one to know how good the Hawks are. We'll take it.

2. With the Spurs using a similar formula to win RINGZZZ there is a good bit of recency bias about that style of play and thus the ambitious assessment of a team and franchise that hasn't shown almost nothing in the post season. Of course, neither have the Warriors, but the Hawks don't have the First Team All-NBA types either, as has been well reported.

So the Hawks benefit from the Spurs showing how that model, done to it's most productive way, can be the path to championships and it gives a media looking for the good 1 vs. 2 discussion a solid foil for the blitzing that the Warriors are doing on the west coast.

In the end, oh yes, it really doesn't matter who the best is right now. If the Hawks are Pepsi to the Golden State Coke, then we'll take that over being Ale-8, the soft drink of tomorrow, anytime.

UPDATE: Man, ask and ye shall receive! Thanks to Bryan over there at numberFire for the update and great piece!