10 Things NBA Fans Need to Know About the Atlanta Hawks


Owners of 18 wins, 7 losses, and 0 television appearances, the Atlanta Hawks have quietly crept to the Eastern Conference’s third-best record.

Here are 10 things NBA fans need to know about the Atlanta Hawks:

1) The Hawks are contenders in the East.

It’s a five-team race. Toronto, Atlanta, Cleveland, Chicago, and Washington all have rosters capable of making it to the Finals. After that it’s Milwaukee — which just lost Jabari Parker for the season — and then Miami and Brooklyn, two broken down, dismal teams who have zero business contending for a playoff spot.

2) No one really has any idea how the Hawks match up against the Cavaliers.

In the first game, the Cavaliers had their best shooting game of the season, a historically accurate performance. In the second contest, the three-point shooting of the Hawks’ bench, an Achilles’ heel for them all season long, suddenly became a ridiculous strength.

Luckily the teams meet again soon: Dec. 30. That game will probably be the best gauge of how these two teams compare.

3) The Hawks make almost every pass they are supposed to make.

The Hawks lead the league with 25.8 assists per game.

4) The Hawks have the best 3-point shooter.

The best shooter in the league? The best shooter of his generation? The best shooter in the history of the NBA? I don’t know. It’s tough to say definitively.

But consider this notion:  By making 54.1% of his three-point attempts this season, Kyle Korver is on pace to break the all-time record for three-point percentage in a season, a record he himself set in 2009-10 (53.6%).

Korver also cracked the top-15 list for career three-pointers made this week. Of those top-15 members, Korver holds the greatest career three-point field goal percentage: 42.9%.

Courtney Lee leads the league at the moment (55.6%), but count on Korver regaining the top spot soon.

5) Al Horford is starting to get frisky.

The Hawks gave up 104.5 points per 100 possessions on defense in November.

That number has dropped to 93.9 for the month of December — the best mark in the league.

Part of that difference is that the Hawks have played an easy schedule. But another part is the play of Al Horford. He has slowly gotten healthier as the season has progressed, gradually regaining his feel after missing most of last season with a torn pectoral muscle.

His feet are moving more quickly, his rotations on defense are a tick faster, and he is becoming the rim protector that Atlanta didn’t have for the first month of the season.

6) The Hawks have two excellent point guards.

And neither one is the one who outscored LeBron James (and everyone else) last night.

Jeff Teague is making a serous bid at an All-Star berth. He is averaging 16.8 points and 7.0 assists per game this season, while shooting 47.8% from the field.

Dennis Schroder has been just as effective in a backup role, racking up 8.7 points and 3.3 assists per game in just 17.4 minutes. He leads the NBA in points per 48 minutes from drives: 13.0 (per NBA.com/stats). That number puts him ahead of the likes of Russell Westbrook (11.8), Tony Wroten (11.4), James Harden (10.3), Monta Ellis (10.2), Reggie Jackson (10.2), and teammate Teague (9.6).

7) The Hawks play two stretch 5’s.

Pero Antic has only made 25.9% of his three-pointers this season, but he takes 2.7 attempts per game, and the threat of his outside shot pulls defenses out and makes space for his point guards to roam through the lane.

Starter Al Horford is quietly compiling a season of shooting almost as crazy as Korver’s. He is hitting 54.5% from the field this season, despite taking only 42.9% of his shots within 5 feet of the rim.

In other words, his midrange jumper is downright splashy, and he’s fiddling with a three-point shot as well.

Pairing Antic and Horford with Paul Millsap and Mike Scott — a pair of power forwards who can also shoot from deep — ensures that the Hawks have decent floor spacing at all times.

8) They have the right vibe.

This isn’t your older brother’s Hawks team. You won’t find the likes of Ivan Johnson on this roster.

9) The Hawks have had the good fortune of good health.

Other than a bout with the flu that has been passed among the bench crew (and the head coach), the Hawks have stayed remarkably healthy to this point in the season.

The only significant non-illness injury was J.R. Smith’s takedown of DeMarre Carroll that held Carroll out of a handful of games with a sprained groin. The team’s defense took a dip in the games Carroll missed.

10) Their record should actually be better.

The Hornets beat them on a 30-foot bank shot from Lance Stephenson. The Spurs squeaked past the Hawks in San Antonio on a phantom call pinned to Kyle Korver. The Lakers won, in part, because of a foul call on Korver that later earned Nick Young a flop warning. And those aren’t the only ones. The Hawks could easily have 20 wins at this point.

Don’t forget to “Like” the Soaring Down South Facebook page and “Follow” us on Twitter @SoaringDwnSouth to get up-to-date Atlanta Hawks/NBA news, rumors and analysis conveniently in your news feeds.