Highlights matter, but only if you win. That is the synopsis that Zach Lowe gives as he places the Atlanta Hawks at No. 10 in his League Pass Rankings for the 2015-16 season. The Hawks may not fill up SportsCenter every night, but if the basketball purist had a ranking they would be squarely in the Top 5.
A year ago, they were the secret hand shake that revealed a true NBA fan. The secret is out now: These guys are awesome to watch, and if you still think they're vanilla, you're probably the same guy who railed on Twitter in 2012 about how boring the Spurs were.
Atlanta has stars, but not the kind of highlight-spitting human volcanoes who demand a channel change. Some nights, all those gorgeous cuts and screens that usually spring Kyle Korver just don't work. Al Horford's midrange jumpers, bounce passes, and sound defensive positioning don't make you yelp, rewind the DVR, and show your (very patient) wife what in the hell just happened.
From that standpoint, Mike Budenholzer has completely changed the culture of Atlanta Hawks Basketball. Gone are the days of Woody's persistent switching and Iso-Joe and in their place is one of the most innovative and fun systems to watch in the league.
It is interesting though that for all of the talk of "embracing their past" this franchise has taken huge steps at moving forward. New uniforms, new court and new owners signal a new direction and hopefully a more positive one.