There will be plenty of time to speculate as to where the Atlanta Hawks will finish within the Eastern Conference hierarchy this season but the projections have begun. In fact, James Herbert of CBS Sports put together a list of 11 teams in the league that are closer to drafting Michael Porter Jr. (or Marvin Bagley... or DeAndre Ayton...) at No. 1 overall in 2018 than they are to actually making the playoffs.
Unfortunately (at least for tanking-averse fans), the Hawks were listed among them.
Looking pretty good. As much as there is to like about the potential of second-year players Taurean Prince and DeAndre Bembry, Atlanta is extremely low on play-makers. Dennis Schroder once again will have to assume an enormous role on offense, which ranked 27th last season, and the defense won't be great anymore. If this group doesn't stumble upon some magical chemistry, it could be the worst team in the league.
This write-up is accompanied by a SportsLine projection of 34.7 wins, which is actually quite a bit rosier than the written sentiment. In fact, the projection is actually a bit higher than it was in mid-July, which could account for Summer League shuffling (hello, John Collins) or, more likely, downturns elsewhere.
However, the piece includes a line saying “if the Hawks were to remain in the playoff picture, it would be shocking” and that is certainly damning. It should be noted that a 35-win performance would be (much) closer to the No. 8 seed than it would be to top-end lottery considerations, but it seems as if the opinion differs from the raw data projection of SportsLine.
As we’ve noted repeatedly, the roster that the Atlanta Hawks will put on the floor is largely void of high-end talent and a lot of the hope for the immediate future is predicated is large-scale jumps from young players. That could certainly happen and Mike Budenholzer has been something of a miracle worker in the past. Still, this type of analysis isn’t going anywhere unless the Hawks perform well on the floor, even if it is brutal to consume under a national spotlight in this way.