Historic Regular-Season Success
The 2014-2015 Atlanta Hawks team caught many by surprises during their historic NBA season. In their second season under head coach Mike Budenholzer, they increased their total wins from 38 with a first-round exit in the playoffs. To a franchise-high 60 wins with championship potential ranking top ten in both offensive and defensive rating for the season. The key to that huge jump in success was spreading the ball and defense. The Hawks ranked second in the NBA that season in assists at 27.8 and fourth in the league with a defensive rating of 101.4. They had no true superstar on the roster so on any night there could be any player on the roster stepping up making big plays.
During the month of January, the Atlanta Hawks caught fire becoming the first team to go 17-0 in a calendar month with every player in the starting lineup averaging double figures. Due to that accomplishment, the entire starting lineup comprised of Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver, Demarre Carrol, Paul Millsap, And Al Horford were all selected for Eastern Conference player of the month honors. In the following month, sans Demarre Carrol, the 4 other starters were selected to the All-Star Team.
In many other seasons, this 60 win Atlanta Hawks season would have been the favorites to win the Eastern Conference and even the NBA championship. After they handled the Brooklyn Nets and Washington Wizards in the first two rounds of the playoffs only one team stood in their way from reaching the NBA finals… the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Hawks boasted a 2-1 Record versus the Cavaliers in the regular season during the playoffs they were completely embarrassed. From early on in the series we saw that the Hawks were no match for this Cavaliers team. LeBron was on a mission to bring home the first championship to the Cavs and this was his first season back in Cleveland. As a result, The Hawks became the first number one seed to be swept in the Eastern Conference Finals since 2003 and by an average margin of victory of 13.3.
And in the West, the Golden State Warriors were on the verge of beginning a dynasty outranking the Hawks in all the things they staked their success on such as three-point shooting, assists, and defense while having a star nucleus of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green. Even if the Hawks made it past the cavaliers they would’ve had a rough matchup with the eventual champions, The Golden State Warriors.
The 2014-2015 Atlanta Hawks Core Splits
The following year the Hawks decided to run it back with most of the same roster intact finishing with a 48-34 record and once again being swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second round of the playoffs. With each season passing the Hawks began to lose player after player from their historic starting lineup. Jeff Teague was traded to the Indiana Pacers, Demarre Carrol signed a lucrative deal with the Toronto Raptors, and Kyle Korver was moved to their rivals the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Hawks looked to bolster their frontcourt with the addition of Dwight Howard but that drove Al Horford away as he signed with the Boston Celtics in free agency.
The last rendition of Hawks playoff basketball was headlined by Dennis Schroder, Dwight Howard, and the remaining lone starter from the 60 win team Paul Millsap. In the first-round series versus the Washington Wizards, the Hawks were defeated in six games. Since then the Hawks have gone into rebuild mode with Millsap leaving in free agency for the Denver Nuggets.
The current Hawks team is led by young point guard Trae Young and one thing that is completely different from the 60 win team is that everything runs through him and not focused on a team-oriented style. Maybe to a fault as Young has quickly become a cancer and his style of play does not seem to correlate with winning.