The 2014-2015 Atlanta Hawks won 60 games and reached the Eastern Conference finals, somewhere this franchise had never been. It didn’t end well, but it was, in the main, a stirring season. The forecast for 2015-2016? Less stirring.
Last week the data-driven site FiveThirtyEight offered its preview. (It was written by Neil Paine, who once worked for the Hawks.) The headline says it all: “The Hawks Will Be Mostly The Same, But Worse.” Paine’s numbers project the Hawks to go 45-37, which would be a 15-game regression.
On Tuesday, NBA.com offered its annual survey of the league’s general managers. The Hawks were picked third in the Eastern Conference behind Cleveland and Chicago. (It must be noted that, a year ago, the Hawks were picked third — in the Southeast Division.) The sentiment again being: Still good, but not as good.
I’d love to offer a home-cooked rebuttal to those lesser projections, but in all honesty I can’t. I don’t think they’ll be as good, either. I think they’ll miss DeMarre Carroll and Danny Ferry. I think the once-in-a-lifetime blend of last season will prove just that — a one-time thing. I’d guess they’ll win 50 games, not 60. But I’ve been wrong before, too.