Nate Mcmillan
(AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Coach Nate McMillan has saved the Atlanta Hawks season from being a complete disaster. On March 1st, the Atlanta Hawks were 14-20 and 11th in the eastern conference which was far off from the expectations that were set for them by owner Tony Ressler and star player Trae Young. The coach at the time Lloyd Pierce was obviously not fit for the job boasting a 63-120 record through two seasons. Not only was Pierce not stacking wins with the Atlanta Hawks he also never got along with many of the players most notably Trae Young. There was a severe disconnect between the Pierce and young which only further complicated things in the locker room between the players. No one was happy in Atlanta Young was frustrated with the head coach and John Collins was frustrated with the offense.

I wrote a story on how the Hawk’s problems were all Trae Young’s fault and he deserved no All-Star Consideration. Trey Daubert wrote a story saying that Trae Young is a cancer and not a winning player. Everyone believed that the problem was Trae Young in Atlanta and they would not be able to win anything with him at the helm. After March 1st however, there was a change in the Hawks Organization as Llyod Pierce was dismissed after two years of being the head coach of the Atlanta Hawks. His replacement was Nate McMillan, a veteran in the coaching world who brought stability and winning to every organization he was a part of. McMillian was reluctant at first but eventually agreed to become the Interim coach of the Hawks. The question remained however was McMillian the right coach for the Atlanta Hawks and Trae Young.

The Hawks Under Nate McMillan

McMillan inherited a team that was was filled with intriguing players and the potential to be a winner but lacked the leadership to get there. The Hawks owner still expected this team to make the playoffs after he pushed for them to be one of the most active teams in free agency. Nate McMillan was tasked to do what Lloyd Pierce could not which was to end their 4-year playoff drought. So far he is on track to do just that. The players backed the decision to have Nate step in as the head coach and the team immediately went on an 8 game winning streak.

McMillan has been the head coach of the Atlanta Hawks for 14 games and so far and they have the 5th best win percentage over that time and have brought their 25th ranked defense to 15th over the same stretch. Trae Young is still a stat sheet stuffer under McMillan averaging 23.2 PPG, 9.8 APG, 3.4 RPG, and a high 4.2 TPG but now it is leading towards wins. The coaching change is a big part of that, Young has cut down on the complaining to officiating and has dominated the ball less in crunch time which has led to huge shots by his teammates. For example, Danilo Gallinari game-winner in Last night’s double-overtime Hawks win in San Antonio last night.

Nate Mcmillan Has Turned This Season Around

Under McMillan, the Hawk’s offense is rejuvenated and all the players on the court are involved which makes this team deadly. In the past, under Lloyd Pierce, we saw questionable plays ran down the stretch of close games leading to Young and the other players furious with officiating for their failures. Now the players are happy, celebrating Tony Snell game-winners, something that simply would not have happened under Lloyd Pierce

Nate McMillan has won the Eastern Conference coach of the month award for February guiding the Hawks to a 9-4 record. The team is now 24-24, 7th in the eastern conference sitting comfortably above the required seed for the play-in tournament. Before coach McMillan the Hawks were headed to another lottery appearance, now they are headed for the first postseason berth in Trae Young’s career. While the jury is still out on how far this team can go under McMillan it’s clear that for now, he has saved this team’s season from becoming a disaster.