The Atlanta Hawks throughout most of their history can be tabbed as a typical franchise.
Throughout their successes over the past decade the Atlanta Hawks have been the living entity of mediocrity. In part the franchise is currently doing what no other team aside from the San Antonio Spurs has done, making the playoffs for 10 consecutive seasons. There’s been good players, there’s been a 60-win team and an Eastern Conference Finals appearance. But that’s really it.
Where there has been great success for the Atlanta Hawks, it has been countered with more mediocrity. Walking the tight rope that’s right in the middle between championship legitimacy and trusting the process is something the franchise has almost become most notable for.
There is self-preserving perspective of just being good when it comes to the Hawks. An atmosphere of being content with just being a playoff team with no real shot at a championship has been established every year for a full ten years now.
There’s been a couple of losing seasons leading to 8-seeds, a surplus of mid-40 win records, two seasons of 50+ wins, five seasons of advancing past the first round of the playoffs, and just one trip to the conference finals.
Part of being continually “kinda good” for longer than pretty much anybody else in the NBA is the lack of risk taking from the front office. You choose not to tear a roster apart and shoot for a generational talent in the NBA draft because it’s the biggest risk any team can take.
A lot of times it doesn’t work for teams, we highlight teams that have played in the gutter of the league for about as long as the Hawks have been a playoff team. We glorify mass groups of young talent on one team to the point where continually losing is content-able as long as you have potential.
The Atlanta Hawks have never been about that perspective, no matter who the team has been run by. The team throughout these ten years has lived through free agency. However, each free agency period has been a reflection of Atlanta’s outcomes each and every year; average. The front office each offseason has made average moves to acquire average talent, which quantifies to average teams year in and year out. It’s when they get to Atlanta where everything clicks.
Four major members of recent Hawks history have been originally drafted by the team: Al Horford, Josh Smith, Jeff Teague, and Dennis Schroder. Some of the most impactful Hawks in that same span, which includes Paul Millsap, Joe Johnson, Jamal Crawford, Tim Hardaway Jr. and others, have been acquired talent through free agency and trades.
Though the Hawks have new young foundation of core talent in players that have been drafted by the team, and even if a brand new general manager could suggest a brand new direction, laying dead with what you have is something the Atlanta Hawks have never done, and are never going to seem to do.
Fast forward back to the current state of the Atlanta Hawks and the upcoming free agency period at midnight. As much as we expect Atlanta to sit back and do nothing interesting, the team now has just seven players under contract for next season (not including the three rookies that have been just drafted).
Paul Millsap seems to be in a full go to leave the Hawks, unless a rather impetuous move by the front office is made, and the Hawks literally have one center currently with the team; his name is Miles Plumlee. Most of the team’s bench is likely gone, they have a major decision to make with Tim Hardaway Jr., and still have a rather inauspicious contract with Kent Bazemore. Long story short, major things are going to happen with the Hawks and they have to happen soon.
Now don’t expect a swing to the fences. Blake Griffin is already off of the market, players such as Gordon Hayward or Paul George aren’t happening. Once the expectations are lowered, we can see more of the possibilities revolved around making a more complete team. Whether that happens with Paul Millsap or a player set to replace him will be dictated soon enough.