Much has been made of Mike Budenholzer's approach to coaching, headlined by his willingness to manage minutes and play up the concept of team balance over a star-based focus. However, that philosophy came under fire to some degree as the Atlanta Hawks flamed out in the Eastern Conference Finals, and now, Kelly Dwyer of Yahoo Sports presents the possibility that the team's makeup could form a "glaring weakness" when the playoff arrive again:
It’s true that there were fluke-y injuries, both on court and off, but the Hawks just seemed absolutely gassed down the stretch of the postseason last year. As we’ve learned with the Chicago Bulls under Tom Thibodeau in years’ past, perhaps there truly is something to overachieving in the regular season, only to fall apart come spring.
Mike Budenholzer didn’t exactly crack the whip as Thibodeau did in Chicago during 2014-15, no Hawk played more than Paul Millsap’s team-leading (!) 32.7 minutes a night, and at its healthiest the Hawk rotation ran ten deep with veteran Elton Brand and the intriguing Mike Muscala (41 percent on threes) sitting beyond that.
Millsap struggled in the playoffs, though, as did firebrand guard Dennis Schroeder. Jeff Teague looked tentative at times, still just not the sort of player that can take over crucial playoff games once the offense breaks down, and even Korver was hitting a rather pedestrian 35 percent of his three-pointers when he was lost for the postseason.
Dwyer's assertion that the Hawks were "gassed" down the stretch is interesting in that Atlanta seemed to fall victim more to injury than tired legs. Millsap's playoff struggles were almost certainly tied to a shoulder injury that he refused to discuss, but the combustible play of Schröder plagued the Hawks when other pieces (DeMarre Carroll, Kyle Korver, etc.) were on the sideline due to injury.
This entire snippet leans toward the never-ceasing question as to whether the Hawks can win big without a singular focal point. We won't try to address that here because, well, it would take more than just a few paragraphs, but Budenholzer's balanced approach will be under fire for the 2015-2016 season, simply because an increased focus comes after the type of 60-win breakout that the Hawks experienced a year ago.
When discussing weaknesses, I would greatly lean in the direction of wing uncertainty over a more global approach issue, but this is food for thought, even after the wild success in Budenholzer's second season.