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Could the Atlanta Hawks miss the playoffs?

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At least one NBA pundit thinks it is possible

Boston Celtics v Atlanta Hawks - Game One Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks may not have yet broken through to the NBA Finals but they have become a fixture in the NBA postseason. Atlanta has made the playoffs every season since 2008 so it is a bit surprising to read an early look at the Eastern Conference that has the Hawks on the outside looking in.

That is the situation however according to Basketball Insiders’ Tommy Beer who took an early stab at ranking the conference:

9. Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks have averaged 54 wins the last two seasons, so it is difficult to justify them falling all the way back to .500 next year. However, I’m of the belief that losing Al Horford will be more damaging than most anticipate. Dwight Howard is an Atlanta native, and Hawks fans are hoping he can reclaim his All-Star form in the ATL. I wouldn’t bet on it. I’m also not sold on Dennis Schroder as the point guard of the future.

In Beer’s defense he does note that there is only one elite team in the East and that he expects to see a wild race among the teams chasing the Cavaliers. Still could this Hawks team miss the playoffs? That seems like a stretch.

I have been critical of the offseason as a whole. While I’m not as worried as some about Dennis Schröder, I do think that the backup point guard position could be a problem. Adding Howard will greatly improve Atlanta’s rebounding but I’m not convinced it helps the offense. Still I’m not going to predict this team to be in the lottery largely because it is still coached by Mike Budenholzer and he has a knack for getting the most out of his teams.