ESPN: The Hawks will slip from 60 wins to 50

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They’ll have many new uniforms but probably not as many wins. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC photo)


ESPN
has released its long-range forecast for the very long NBA regular season. It projects the Atlanta Hawks, who won 60 games and finished first in the East last season, to win 50 games and be the third-best team in the conference this time around. (Actually, the Hawks and the Bulls are both picked to go 50-32, though Chicago is slotted as the East’s No. 2 team.)

That’s a decline of 10 games for the Hawks, which sounds like a lot. Per ESPN, the Hawks will finish nine games behind Cleveland; last year they finished seven games ahead of the Cavaliers. (The playoffs, as we know, were a different story.) The local team is still picked to win the Southeast Division by three games over Miami, which missed the playoffs last season, and four over Washington, which gave the Hawks all they could handle in Round 2.

In the wake of ESPN’s picks, Bradford Doolittle of ESPN Insider offered his reaction. (That’s how big the Worldwide Leader is: It reacts to its own stories.) Writes Doolittle:

The 50-win summer forecast might seem like a steep descent. After all, as good as (DeMarre) Carroll might be, he’s not worth 10 wins, and Atlanta did add Tiago Splitter and Tim Hardaway Jr. during the summer. Yet the forecast and my system agree that while Atlanta remains a force, last season was an outlier.

Earlier this month, Doolittle’s ESPN Insider colleague Kevin Pelton ranked the Hawks as a “likely playoff team,” which was below the tiers of “championship contender,” which included only Cleveland from the East, and “championship hopeful,” which included nobody from the East. Wrote Pelton:

Atlanta’s point differential (plus-5.4 ppg) was more typical of a 55-win team, and teams like the Hawks, who have improved their record by at least 20 games from one season to the next, have regressed two wins the following season. Add in the loss of starting forward DeMarre Carroll, and Atlanta is likely to return to the 45-50 win range the team has occupied much of the past decade.

Nobody is seriously suggesting — at least nobody I know — that the Hawks won’t still be good. The raging consensus is that they won’t be quite as good, and this correspondent wouldn’t disagree. Fifty sounds about right.

Reader Comments 0

30 comments
rhalicks
rhalicks

test blog post by Richard Halicks

WaltBBall
WaltBBall

Folks were having duck fits for years because the HAWKS had not made it to the 3rd rd. of the playoffs, so what did our HAWKS do, they made it to the 3rd rd. of the playoffs which was unseen territory carving out 60 wins along the way.  The upcoming season will have a group of hungry players because they learned and are more seasoned as a team.  Last season I forgot to write down the names of the jump on jump off bandwagon folks, this season i'm logging em because I wanna call those folks out with their negative nonsense.

The HAWKS players and coach Bud gave us a season to remember and it was fun and i'm LQQKING forward to another.  I wonder what will happen if P. Mil drops 20 lbs which would elongate his career and he would be a BEAST of a SF, that's food for thought.  Realistically if the HAWKS can stay healthy and the players have put in the work for the upcoming season then 60 wins is not a reach but can be a reality again.  There is no way i'm locking them into a 50-55 win season because I think they will be better.

Folks need to believe, coach Buds system got a journeyman player (DMC) a huge contract and low and behold, Kyle Korver became an Allstar.  The door is wide open for Hardaway, Richardson and Muscala and lets not forget Dennis the menace who has not tapped anywhere near his true potential.  J. Teague can't have laspes like he did last season because Dennis could be a Superstar in the making.  I'm going to stfu because the HAWKS are my boys and I DO BELIEVE!

GO HAWKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

BeastOPS
BeastOPS

Of course the folks at Lebron Network believe the Cavs will just run away with the East.  I just don't see it.  I expect Lebron to take even more games off this upcoming season in an attempt to be fresher for the postseason.  He's another year older, and they're essentially returning the same cast - and a cast that just got paid... and you know how that usually effects performance.  

ShovelPlease
ShovelPlease

I think the ESPN folks are being generous.  Last season was wonderful for the Hawks, but anyone who paid attention after mid-February realized they were out of their depth.  Winning 50 would be a good season. 

MikeS777
MikeS777

Is this really surprising to anyone?  ESPN Isn't going to jump on the Hawks.

I think 50 wins is the "safe" prediction because they just don't want to buy in to what Coach Bud has done.  While 60 games might be too much to ask for, I don't see them falling below the 2nd seed in the East.

No one in the East got better this offseason.  Indiana broke their team up, despite George coming back.  Miami has health problems and depend on Bosh and Wade to play better than they have in years.  Washington lost Pierce who was huge for them.

Meanwhile, the Hawks get Sefolosha back healthy.  They shore up the inside game and rebounding (a huge issue last year) with Splitter.  Then they add Hardaway Jr. who could be a steal if he buys into the system the way everyone else has.

WaltBBall
WaltBBall

Folks should stay on the bandwagon or just get off.  espn was wrong last season and wrong this season, either you believe or don't...sheeszh...

WhopperDawg
WhopperDawg

The roster is worse, the draft yielded unbelievable nothing, and the GM is much much worse and they have given the franchise to Bud who is a third year coach?


50 wins will be lucky, realize Washington would have beaten us last year in the playoffs if Wall hadn't gotten hurt, maybe easily. I am afraid that without a true GM this team could very well be headed in the wrong direction. 2nd round playoff exit and 45 wins best case.

MikeS777
MikeS777

@WhopperDawg And yet the Hawks won 2 of the 3 games John Wall played in, losing the one game because they shot an abysmal 25% from the field in the second half.   The game was still close down the stretch.

Jump off the bandwagon then.

BigTimeTECHFan
BigTimeTECHFan

Agree with 3rd seed, but this time the Hawks will sweep the Cavs on the way to an NBA title.

moboman
moboman

In fairness, I do recall a stretch of games in midseason, where we always seemed to run into teams when there stars didn't play because of minor injuries.  In that respect, maybe last season was an outlier.  But any team has to have a bit of good fortune to have a really good record.

GeorgeJetsen
GeorgeJetsen

ESPN is correct in saying last season was an outlier. Hawks benefitted from a weaker than normal East and then showed their actual talent level getting totally outplayed by CLE. Like all ATL underperforming teams, Hawks will always be considered pretenders until they win a title.

sgmock
sgmock

The Hawks are on the rise. Player development (which is huge)t along with fantastic coaching will continue. How many of you knew much about Millsap and Carroll before they came to the Hawks. I believe players like Holiday and Hardaway Jr will thrive. I cannot wait for season to begin

darbrednew
darbrednew

Lets hope new ownership can really make this a better team

kevkat
kevkat

@darbrednew


I agree. And hopefully build a team that can win a championship and not just compete like the other sports teams in the ATL have always done.

PeachtreeBart
PeachtreeBart

@kevkat @darbrednew Always is a strong word.  I remember quite a few years of ATL teams not competing at all.  In fact, probably far more than half.  You must be young.

Calel
Calel

No problem. I'm still going to Philips to see them play--something I've NEVER said before......

pride
pride

Just like our model San Antonio, every year the pundits show a lack of respect and most times are proven wrong. We will be fighting for the conference championship again.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@pride

Actually, the pundits were proven correct in the Hawks' case--given that the ATL version has never made an NBA Finals.

Hopefully it won't require another half-century to take that next step.

BarrowCountyShawty
BarrowCountyShawty

56-26. Hawks could have won 65 games this year if they didn't clinch with 15+ games left to play. The intensity of the team fell even before clinching we were so far ahead. The last 20 games of the season were meaningless and Bud sat a main starter each night while limiting other guys' minutes. The Hawks will be great even without Carroll and Mike Scott who gave us a lot more than people realize (RIP). Unfortunately there's no way this team beats an even better than last year Cavaliers team. THIS was the year to knock off the Cavs and we blew it. 

DawgNole
DawgNole

@BarrowCountyShawty

Did they not keep score the last 20 games? Of course they did, so the games were not meaningless at all. And the fact that the team treated them as meaningless contributed significantly to their inability to regain their lost momentum by the time they hit Round 3 (vs Cleveland) for the first time ever in ATL.

BLowE12
BLowE12

@BarrowCountyShawty The Cavs will not be better this year. With that said, it still maybe enough to hold of the Hawks again this year. 


And as far as our year to win.(window) That may never open but this team will be better this coming season. That may not translate to MORE wins, however they will better made for the Playoffs than last.

Hell Horsey
Hell Horsey

The hideous jerseys alone will handicap them by 10 games, and then everyone will hop off the hype train.

ImaNitwit
ImaNitwit

Expect a significant drop off from Korver. Even without the injury, few players in the history of the league shot 90% from the free throw line and 50% from the 3 pt line, which he did for much of the year. That will not repeat.

DoubleEE
DoubleEE

50-32 and third in the East behind Cleveland and Chicago seems about right.

A lot went right for the Atl Hawks this past regular season.  


BLowE12
BLowE12

@DoubleEE And a lot went NORMAL for those other two teams as well. Washington and Boston will probably be better teams than a self destructing Bulls team. The Hawks will definitely be in the Mix as their style is more conducive to winning a lot during the regular season. I wouldn't be surprised at all if we get the EXACT same result this coming season as we got last. 

JackClemens
JackClemens

No, I think Coach Bud and his Spurs pedigree will have them contending for the title. The second writer talks about "45-50" being Atlanta's status quo. Sorry, but I think that left with Sund and Drew.