The Atlanta Hawks enter the 2018-19 season with (very) low expectations, at least in terms of present-day success on the floor. Most national outlets project Lloyd Pierce’s team to finish in the NBA’s basement and, even when the Hawks aren’t slotted in at No. 30 overall, Atlanta is usually placed firmly within the league’s bottom tier.
However, the good folks at FiveThirtyEight are more optimistic about the Hawks this season, and that comes through in the website’s preseason projections. Atlanta is projected for a final record of 28-54, solidly exceeding its Las Vegas over/under, and four teams fall below the Hawks in the overall pecking order.
The Chicago Bulls, Phoenix Suns, Sacramento Kings and New York Knicks are all projected for 27 victories or less and, for good measure, the Dallas Mavericks (!) project to finish in a dead-heat with the Hawks at 28 victories. From a 2019 NBA Draft standpoint, it would be better for Atlanta if Dallas overachieved when compared to that baseline, but FiveThirtyEight’s system does serve as a point of optimism for those who see the 2018-19 Hawks in a more positive light than the national consensus.
Between now and mid-April, a lot of things can and will happen to shape the eventual record of the Hawks (who have a 6 percent chance to make the playoffs according to this system) but it does feel as if there is more in the way of positive thinking surrounding Atlanta right now than there was in July. That’s fun.