Players on the Atlanta Hawks roster aren’t buying the low expectations ascribed to the team and, frankly, that isn’t a surprise. Players and coaches in the foxhole on a nightly basis are never going to be resigned to their fate when it comes to losing basketball games and, even if most projection systems and experts believe Atlanta is headed for the lottery, varying opinions exist.
To that end, the good folks at CBS Sports use a projection system from their gambling/handicapping site (SportsLine) and it actually paints a rather optimistic picture of the Hawks this season. No, that does not mean that Atlanta is projected to make the postseason (in fact, SportsLine gives the Hawks just a 7.2 percent chance) but the system does slot Mike Budenholzer’s team ahead of four other squads in the Eastern Conference.
CBS pegs Atlanta for 31.2 wins and that is good for the No. 11 seed in the East. Amusingly, the Carmelo Anthony-less New York Knicks are not one of the teams that fall behind the Hawks but the Indiana Pacers, Chicago Bulls, Orlando Magic and Brooklyn Nets (in that order) project to win fewer basketball games this season.
One (very) common argument for those seeking more success for the Hawks on the floor this season is the ugly projections for some direct competitors in the East and this system adds fuel to that fire. There are cogent arguments to be made that, yes, Atlanta is better than the four teams mentioned here (and the Knicks) and that means that a little bit of elbow grease could send the Hawks to the fringes of playoff contention.
It is a very different argument as to whether Hawks fans should want the team to win 31 games and finish ahead of four teams in the East (plus the Phoenix Suns in the West) but, for those seeking optimism, this system provides it.