The Atlanta Hawks have an active streak of 10 consecutive trips to the postseason and that is both noteworthy and impressive. While it seems likely that the streak will come to an end in 2017-2018, the general success of the team on the floor over the past decade has been quite encouraging.
With that as the backdrop, the Hawks did struggle mightily in the early portion of the 2000’s and they are being punished for it quite harshly by a new list from Andrew Unterberger of The Score. In short, the task was to rank each of the NBA’s 30 franchises (including seven categories of measure) since 2000 and, well, Atlanta wasn’t given a ton of respect.
The statistical formula produced a result of the Hawks landing at No. 24 overall and the following was written:
They spent about a season as a convincing facsimile of Spurs East - longer than most get, really - but still have spent the majority of this century either rebuilding or treading water. They were lottery bound through 2007, and then a playoff stepping stone for the Cavaliers, Pacers, and other East elites since.
Outside of one exciting, seven-game, first-round series against the Celtics in '08, Cult Appeal has almost entirely eluded them, and when your shining beacon of star power is Joe Johnson (or Paul Millsap), your wattage could use a significant upgrade. That 13-69 record in '04-'05 isn't helping them either - only three teams posted a worse Worst Season this century.
The Hawks stay out of the dregs thanks to keeping a mostly drama-free organization - with the notable exception of the thoughtless racial remarks that brought Danny Ferry's Atlanta career to a premature close, and the struggle to fill the power vacuum that ensued - and due to an impressive streak of ten consecutive playoff appearances, longest in the NBA outside of the Spurs, though that streak seems almost sure to end in 2017-18.
In diving into the data, the Hawks were clearly dinged for the 13-69 season (as noted above) with a very low mark in the category of “worst season” but the biggest blows against Atlanta were in the neighborhood of “franchise player” and “cult appeal.”
Obviously, “cult appeal” is quite subjective (and the writer notes that) but the Hawks finished ahead of only the Charlotte Hornets (who finished at No. 30) in that category. Much has been made of the lack of fan support and general buzz around the franchise and, while that has improved during the most recent run that peaked in 2014-2015, the early part of the 2000’s again reflects harshly here.
Elsewhere, the “franchise player” mark was also graded as 2nd-worst in the league ahead of the Hornets. This is some level of disrespect for Joe Johnson, Al Horford and Paul Millsap at various times but, at the end of the day, the Hawks likely never deployed a player that was among the top-10 overall in the league at a given moment.
Given the amount of sustained success, this type of ranking isn’t likely to go over well with the fan base and with good reason. In fact, it could be construed as yet another national outlet failing to see the appeal of the Atlanta Hawks and underselling what has transpired in the city over the last decade-plus, especially given the lack of discussion about the 60-win explosion that captivated the city just three seasons ago.
What say you?