The Atlanta Hawks took a big leap forward in ESPN.com's Ultimate Standings which ranks all of the franchises in pro sports. The Hawks jumped up 19 spots to No. 29 overall and are eighth among all NBA teams.
Over the course of the last 12 months, the Hawks have a new ownership group, a new front office and the reigning Coach of the Year to go along with a 60 win team that made its first appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals. Combine all of that with a complete rebranding on and off the court and the future appears to be bright for the franchise.
What is missing? For one postseason success. Getting to the Eastern Conference Finals was nice, but it is now up to this group to show that they deserve mention among the heavyweights of the league.
Perhaps the only area the Hawks need to improve upon is, well, postseason results. They've made the playoffs each of the past eight seasons but have yet to advance to the Finals, which accounts for that 80th-place title track ranking, their worst showing this season. Still, last year's advancement into the Eastern Conference finals (where they fell in four straight games to LeBron's Cavs) shows they're closer to contending for a title. Then there's Philips Arena, which is ... Philips Arena (70th in stadium experience).
The San Antonio Spurs topped the rankings for the second straight year while the Memphis Grizzlies moved up to second.