Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith (5) reacts after being fouled in the second quarter of an NBA basketball game basketball game against the New Jersey Nets Tuesday, Dec. 7 2010 in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Atlanta Hawks: Basketball Prospectus projects Hawks to finish 2nd in East next season


The Atlanta Hawks are projected to finish as the 2nd seed in the Eastern Conference, according to ESPN’s Bradford Doolittle of Basketball Prospectus.

However, most people would say there’s no chance of that happening.

Those people might be right.

The Hawks did get better with all of their off-season transactions, but second place in a star-studded Eastern Conference is going to be a tough task to accomplish, especially with so many new players on Atlanta’s roster.

It might even matter though — the NBA championship series is sure to feature the Miami Heat vs the Los Angeles Lakers/Oklahoma City Thunder.

Here’s Doolittle perspective:

“It’s funny, our projections systems have never much liked the Hawks over the years and now that they’ve unloaded their highest-profile player, we’ve got them getting a better seed than at any point during Atlanta’s current string of playoff teams. The Hawks’ offense without Joe Johnson will get better, trading in a lot of long jumpers for more trips to the foul line. Still, it’s not so much a matter of the Hawks’ getting better as it is the rest of the East backsliding.”

I don’t that’s accurate, however, to say that the rest of the East is backsliding. Sure Orlando and Chicago will drop off without their best players this season, Dwight Howard is finally traded and Derek Rose has a severe knee injury, but other teams in the Conference got better.

Miami definitely got better by adding Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis. 76ers basically swapped Andre Iguodala for Andrew Bynum, that’s an upgrade. The Nets without a doubt became one of the top Eastern contenders by pairing Joe Johnson with Deron Williams. The Knicks should be one of the better teams in the East, and with more time to heal up and gel as a team, they will certainly be more productive this season prior to failed pasts. Boston is always scary in the playoffs. And no one cares about the Pacers.

Of course, the Miami Heat are projected to finish in 1st place, Hawks get the nod at No. 2, the New York Knicks jump all the way up to No.3, Boston Celtics stay steady at the 4th spot, Chicago Bulls drop down to No.5, Indiana Pacers slip to the 6th slot, Brooklyn Nets move up to No. 7, and Philadelphia 76ers move down to the final 8th seed.

Tags: Atlanta Hawks