ESPN rates Hawks the NBA’s worst team. That’s not a bad thing

“Tanking is fun, Tony.” (Hyosub Shin/AJC)

Kevin Pelton of ESPN Insider this week graded the 30 NBA teams’ offseasons: He assigned the Atlanta Hawks a D-plus, which wasn’t even the worst in the East. (The Bulls and Pacers and Knicks got a big fat F, the latter in no small part for lavishing $71 million on ex-Hawk Tim Hardaway Jr.) He then projected every team’s record for the season. This time the Hawks were the league’s worst — at 27.0 wins, just down from the Kings’ 27.4.

And here’s where I say, “Good.” Sort of.

Not good in the sense that going 27-55 is, you know, excellent. But good in that the Hawks are tanking. If you’re tanking, the idea, duh, is not to win. The more you lose, the better your chances of getting the No. 1 pick in next year’s draft. If you get the No. 1 pick, you might land the superstar the Hawks have conspicuously lacked. If you have a superstar, you’ve got the beginnings of a chance not just to be so-so, which the Hawks had become, but really good and maybe even great.

Bradley’s Rule (also Mike Ehrmantraut’s): No half-measures. If you’re going to tank, do the Full Monty. Rip off that Band-aid. And here I’ll stop with the cliche-y imagery.

Caveat: I’m not sure, with the Knicks and Bulls looking awful and the Nets still reeling from trading away all their lottery picks and the Magic no great shakes, the Hawks will even be the fourth-worst team in the East, and I have to admit the Mike Budenholzer Effect troubles me. He’s a good enough coach that he might bleed 35 wins out of this unassuming-to-say-the-least roster, which would, in a pretzel-logic way, be grounds for firing. If you’re tanking, tank.

Then I check ESPN’s projected Hawks starting five, and I think, “Maybe this is beyond even bright Bud.” Here’s your five: Dennis Schroder, Taurean Prince, Kent Bazemore, Dewayne Dedmon and Ersan Ilyasova. The latter three are essentially backups; the first two are young. That’s a really bad lineup. Which is, I say again, the idea. If the Hawks land Michael Porter next June, nobody will care how awful the 2017-2018 season was. Because — let’s face it — almost nobody’s going to be watching.

Reader Comments 0

33 comments
vaebam
vaebam

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Aikendawg
Aikendawg

They won't land Porter. They're doing what the Hawks always do - take a good team to the bottom. Two years ago they were nearly as good as the Cavaliers. One by one they got rid of the high cost players to keep the money in their pockets. Now they will let it tank and flounder dead in the water while the franchise value inflates. When the price is right you will see the Hawks back on the auction block

LARRY4356
LARRY4356

Hawks missed the playoffs from '99 to '08. We never won the first pick in the draft. We had a sixty win team. But it's gone.  

WonderingAboutAmerica
WonderingAboutAmerica

Only in the ATL can a homey sports "writer" (and I use the term "writer" in its most ironic sense) glory in living in Losersville. Braves in the tank, Falcons tank in the Super Bowl, Hawks NEVER any good. ATL - lovin' the losin'!

WaltBBall
WaltBBall

I remember when Paul Milsap came to the HAWKS along with DMC & Korver was signed to a 3 year extension, none of this set well with many a fan on this blog but they gave us one helluva ride with 60 wins, who woulda thunk it.  Coach Bud is one helluva coach, he has turned good players into Allstars and mediocre players into good rotation pieces.  The HAWKS will not be down or out, I'm betting they will surprise a lot of us.  Luke Babbit is our new Kyle Korver, Dwayne Dedmon is gonna be a fan favorite, Deandre Bembry and Dennis the Menace are stars in the making, John Collins is going to make all of us happyyyyyyyy,  Ilayasova will be deadly, T Prince will be more than respectable.  I hope Moose will turn it loose cause it's time he does.  I expect a good season ahead, I will always believe in coach Buds process, it has been proven to work and work well.


BUTERRIERHOCKEY
BUTERRIERHOCKEY

ATLANTA is a FOOTBALL and BASEBALL town. it does NOT watch basketball. Sell the team and move it out of here. NO ONE cares. The NBA is a scripted sport.

sassy1
sassy1

I have been giving ESPN a failing grade for years. If I want to watch two fools argue all I have to do is stand in front of a mirror. 


That is why I cut them off from my wallet. 

Cheryl T. Hitt
Cheryl T. Hitt

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pong
pong

Go fly a kite

MauryL
MauryL

ATL will make the playoffs, and go out in round 1, even after paying mediocre players $15-$25 million per year. But, chumps keep coming to the games---the billionaire owners make millions if they suck or not. Pay up.

Hell Horsey
Hell Horsey

@Zino They're not making the playoffs this year, not even in the East.

atlanta spirit
atlanta spirit

Let's hope they are the worst.  Fish or cut bait.  Finally a strategy that gives up hope.

FineSwine
FineSwine

You're right, Mark.  Bud will screw this up.  He's too good of a coach to end up with the worst record in the league.  I say, Fire HIm, and get a shitty coach.  We sure as hell got shitty players.  


What strange times we live in....

MannyIcey
MannyIcey

While I want the Hawks to tank too, I actually got them making the playoffs this year. And I'm saying it with a straight face. Why? Two reasons:

1. The Hawks are young and fast with this lineup. We didn't lose any of our young guns except Hardaway (which was a ridiculous deal.)

2. The Hawks are in the East. And when you are in a division where almost EVERYONE is tanking, our lineup and youth works against the plan. We will have to throw games and these young puppies are trying to make money, so they aren't going to do that.

My prediction is that you will see bad basketball in the first half of the season. But by the second half, they may be fun to watch.

Manman
Manman

I think people are vastly, vastly overestimating the abilities of the other weak rosters in the East and underestimating the Hawks. Prince showed flashes of the future in the playoffs and Schroeder will probably have a bounceback year now that Howard isn't gumming up the works. Who knows, Collins could develop very quickly. There's a lot of unknowns right now for the Hawks. They could easily be "the worst team in the East," they could also be the 7 seed.


Dubs beaters they ain't but I'm gonna need to see 10 games before I write it off as lost season

Podunkpete
Podunkpete

Sorry, I may sound cynical, but I am concerned we may steal too many wins to secure the best odds to win the 2018 draft lottery sweepstakes, along with 2019 and 2020. This will have to be a multi-year tank process- just ask the Sixers-. As the Simpson children would say, "Are we there yet?" year after year. Will Atlantans embrace "lovable losers?" When the demand for Hawks tickets shrinks, will the price also shrink to fill seats? Do we have a Casey Stengel in the Hawks organization? What if Budenholzer is too much a Leo Durocher? Coach Bud does develop players, but this will be new territory. As a fan I would like to see a core emerge to inspire belief and dispel cynicism. 

DawgNole
DawgNole

@Podunkpete: "Will Atlantans embrace `lovable losers?'"

_______________

They've been doing it for 51 years. Why stop now?

TreeRollins
TreeRollins

I am so proud to be associated with the city that is assured to have the worst team in basketball and also one of the very worst teams in baseball the past 3 years.  What other city could say they are so lucky (Ok, maybe Philadelphia but who's counting)?  We are one of the best cities in the history of pro sports to roll out putrid teams all at once.  I realize the Falcons are messing that all up but I digress.


Hawks fans, be proud of this group of mongrels and mutts - nobody tanks better than us!  We're the best (er, worst?).  Let's celebrate this fabulous development by watching as many of their games on TV as we can!  Don't go there in person - wait until we see the tanking has worked and we get the next LeBron.  It's great, we save a huge amount of money and can use it instead to relieve our frustrations with a smile at the nearest "happy ending" massage club.  It's a win/win for everyone!


Hoorray for the new owner Tony Ressler and his new GM - genius!!

BUTERRIERHOCKEY
BUTERRIERHOCKEY

@TreeRollins MOVE the Team Tony! No one cares for basketball or going to down town any more. it is football and baseball, baby! 

redweather
redweather

I could agree with you if the Hawks were going to drastically reduce ticket prices while tanking, but they won't be doing that.

ATL89
ATL89

The NBA needs a new CBA, it makes no sense a team, who has a good coach, can't build a team because of any player that is worth anything wants a max contract, and you can't keep descent players to build a team.

moboman
moboman

@ATL89 not to mention that all the players want to clump into superteams.  No competitive balance.

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

Intentional tanking is flat-out unsportsmanlike and should not be condoned or tolerated, certainly not lauded and championed. The strategy is a growing epidemic and blemish on professional sports.

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

Why bother playing 82 games especially the 41 at home? Tank City almost as fun as the Braves rebuild, and the Falcons 4th Quarter collapse in the Super Bowl. Well there is always college football, maybe Georgia State can bring a winner to the refurbished TED this year.

4thWarden
4thWarden

"Hoping" to land a superstar in a draft is never my ideal idea, but if you are gonna tank, do it right I guess....

Hell Horsey
Hell Horsey

"almost nobody’s going to be watching"

Just another day in Loserville.