Despite a loss on Monday, the Atlanta Hawks continue to close the gap on the rest of the Eastern Conference and subsequently continue to rise in this week’s power rankings.
ESPN.com’s Marc Stein kicks things off moving Atlanta up five spots this week to No. 6 while mentioning Paul Millsap’s All-Star candidacy.
The Committee totally gets it. If Hawks fans are angry at us for falling prey to Embiid Fever and giving an All-Star reserve slot to a rookie over Hawks mainstay Paul Millsap, we fully understand their dismay. Millsap arguably ranks as the biggest snub in either conference on our unofficial reserves ballot. It wouldn't surprise us at all if East coaches end up selecting him as a reserve over Embiid, especially because Millsap offsets the slight downturn in his offensive numbers this season -- in the wake of three successive All-Star appearances -- with his invaluable contributions on D to a team that continues to rank in the league's top five in defensive efficiency.
NBA.com’s John Schuhmann is a little less bullish but moves the Hawks up one spot and into the Top 10 at No. 10.
The Hawks got thumped in Detroit on Wednesday, but have won 11 of their last 13 games, with the league's No. 1 defense in that time. Tim Hardaway Jr. has helped make up for the departure of Kyle Korver, with an effective field goal percentage of 61.7 percent in January. That's up from 42.1 percent in December and is the fourth best mark among players who have taken at least 100 shots this month. Hardaway didn't shoot well in Saturday's win over Philadelphia, but he dished out a career-high six assists.
Matt Moore continues the trend and moves Atlanta up two spots to No. 6 in his rankings for CBS Sports.
Atlanta, RKO out of nowhere! The Hawks, winners of 11 of their last 13, are red hot. The next time I start selling Hawks stock, remind me that Mike Budenholzer is playing chess in a conference full of checkers dudes.
The Hawks make another five spot leap to No. 6 in Kurt Helin’s rankings at Pro Basketball Talk.
They are 9-2 in January and are just half a game back of the Celtics for the three seed, which is why in these rankings they have made the leap — they may be the hottest team in the East. Will that be enough to get Paul Millsap an All-Star nod? He deserves it with his play and numbers, but he’s certainly on the bubble in the East with so many good guards and Joel Embiid playing well. As an aside, nobody seems to think Millsap is really off the trade market, but also nobody thinks anyone will put together an offer that will really tempt the Hawks.
Finally, Atlanta moves up four spots to No. 7 in Jeremy Woo’s rankings for SI.com’s The Crossover.
Atlanta owns the East’s best net rating over the past 10 games and is creeping on into the Toronto-Boston second tier, at least record-wise. The swiftness of their in-season turnaround has really been impressive.