The Atlanta Hawks aren’t seen as a likely playoff team in 2017-2018 and, if they fall short, it would be the first time in a full decade that the organization wasn’t participating in the postseason. The good folks at the Westgate Las Vegas provide the Hawks with 14-to-1 odds to make the postseason and, with that as the backdrop, Matt Moore of CBS Sports examined the likelihood that Atlanta could pull off the improbable.
This one's too obvious, except ...
Atlanta's new GM Travis Schlenk made several decisions in pursuit of clearing cap space. Dennis Schröder is their best player, Kent Bazemore is behind him. There's no front court, to speak of. They are actively rebuilding. There's no reason for them to pursue the playoffs, this is strictly a reset year.
But we return to the East question. The Hawks still have the remnants of a 43-win team. They have some surprisingly good young talent and added some sneaky OK veterans in free agency. The Hawks won't be good. Good thing for them the Eastern Conference 8th seed won't be good either. It'll be the team with some combination of talent and coaching. The Hawks are short on talent, but their best player is better than a few in the East. One good month is all it takes. Is that worth a gambit at 14-to-1 odds?
By strict probability, the Hawks would only have to make the playoffs approximately 7 percent of the time to return “value” in this type of wager. With that in mind, it isn’t crazy that the fan base (or even impartial pundits) could see that as an opportunity.
Atlanta has a quality coach and they aren’t a mess at point guard, both of which are key to making any sort of run in the depleted East. However, the Hawks pushing for the playoffs would be counterproductive to the apparent organizational goal of rebuilding with an eye toward the stacked 2018 NBA Draft and, frankly, it would be a bad idea for Atlanta to push for the No. 8 seed at the expense of future development of young players.
Is it possible? Absolutely. Is this good value? Maybe. We’ll see if the Hawks even want to make the playoffs, though, and the front office’s cards will be on the table if the team gets off to anything approaching a hot start.