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Hawks' 2015 season ends disappointingly but the future is bright

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The 2015 season ends for the Atlanta Hawks, but it should serve as a building block for the future and signal of a new era in Hawks basketball.

Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

The 2015 season ended in disappointing fashion for the Atlanta Hawks, but that shouldn't really cast a cloud over what was one of the best seasons in franchise history. As painful as their four-game sweep to the Cleveland Cavaliers was, the 2015 season overall was a successful one for the Hawks. The team cracked the 60 win plateau and captured the East's No. 1 seed. They made it to the conference finals which was a place that no other Hawks team had been since moving to Atlanta.

To understand just how far the Hawks came, you have to first look at where they started. In 2014, they were a sub .500 team that limped into the playoffs without the injured Al Horford. They were able to push the Indiana Pacers to the brink before falling in seven games in the first round. Still, they came into the 2015 season as an afterthought on the national scene. They were picked to finish anywhere from 10th to fourth in the conference and was given very little chance by anyone to make it past the second round of the playoffs.

To make matters worse, the franchise found itself embroiled in a racially charged controversy involving its ownership group and general manager Danny Ferry prior to the start of the season. The Hawks never let that unfortunate event become a distraction. Mike Budenholzer, Steve Koonin and the players successfully navigated those troubled waters and delivered best season in franchise history.

Still the playoffs showed there is work left to be done. I have a firm belief that a team doesn't necessarily have to have to a superstar to be a championship contender, but a team does need talent. Atlanta got a lot of mileage out of its roster in 2015 but to take the next step the talent level must go up. That doesn't necessarily mean that the team must sign the biggest named free agent on the market. The under the radar addition (and often ridiculed) addition of Thabo Sefolosha this past summer made quite a bit of difference for the 2015 team. The Hawks need to add talent to the roster, but it is important that the talent fit with the rest of the group.

This season needs to be the start of something bigger for this franchise. Very seldom does a team go from a below .500 team to a No. 1 seed and the Eastern Conference Finals without making significant changes to its roster. The Hawks accomplished that this season. Often times championship level teams must fail before they learn how to truly win.

The 2015 season needs to serve as the start of a new era for Atlanta Hawks basketball. The core pieces of a successful franchise are in place with Koonin and Budenholzer. New ownership is on the way and the first question should be "how can we help" instead of "this is how we are going to do things."

There is no denying that the 2015 season ended in disappointing fashion but overall 2015 season was a major success. The city of Atlanta rediscovered this Hawks team and although they were left wanting more, they can finally appreciate what they have.