Nearly two months have passed since we last checked in with a few prominent projection systems and, in short, the Atlanta Hawks are now seen in a more positive light. Of course, that makes sense given the team’s clear improvement on the court but the NBA All-Star break is here and it is a good time to catch up on how these analytical projections view the Hawks for the rest of the season.
Even with the disaster on Thursday against New York, the Hawks have quite a projected cushion over the league’s bottom tier. In fact, Atlanta is basically in a tier of their own, with a six-game lead on the dregs and a seven-game deficit (in terms of projections) behind the Grizzlies. That is probably larger than it should be given the trajectory of Memphis but, at any rate, that’s where the numbers fall here.
We’re officially in the zone where the Hawks are now projected (by most of these systems) to have a 0.0 percent chance to make the playoffs. That isn’t technically true, of course, but it does provide a dose of reality for the optimists among us.
NumberFire has been the most optimistic system all season long and that continues this time around. It isn’t crazy to think that the Hawks could get to 28 victories (that would require only a 9-15 record after the break) but only one system projects that.
B-Ref is a fantastic resource and they should be lauded for their work. With that out of the way, they also project a “best” and “worst” in terms of realistic scenarios for this season. At present, the best-case projection is 35-47 and the worst-case is 19-63. Both of those seem implausible but there’s a reason they are on the edges in the first places.
Remember how the FiveThirtyEight projections place the Hawks in their own tier? Well, ESPN does it even more. Atlanta is projected to finish with the fifth-worst record and that is the general consensus. Here, the Hawks are eight games behind Memphis as the closest team to “threaten” Atlanta’s placement as a top-five team when the lottery arrives in May.
All-Star weekend doesn’t delineate the first “half” from the second “half” of the season, as the Hawks have only 24 games remaining out of an 82-game schedule. Still, it is a good time to reset expectations and things get back underway on Friday, Feb. 22 when the Hawks take on the Pistons at State Farm Arena.