Atlanta Hawks’ franchise fortunes to change with culture adjustment

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 9: Taurean Prince
LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 9: Taurean Prince /

Identity—all great franchises have one; whether a sports club or a corporation. Coca-Cola, the New England Patriots, and the Golden State Warriors, all have easily recognizable identities.

Identity-lacking corporations and clubs are subject to be forgotten, or go out of business. Sports Authority, the Cleveland Browns, Sacramento Kings, and Atlanta Hawks fall into this category. The Hawks differ from the franchises above because the Hawks have recently experienced notable success. Despite the success, time seems to show that without an identity, success is not sustainable.

Never in their 68 years of business, have the Atlanta Hawks sustained an identity for a significant period of time. The team’s records and eras scream middling. Unfortunately, there’s not much about the Hawks’ history that could easily convince a new basketball fan to proudly in claim the Hawks as their team.

Atlanta’s all-time record is 2,693-2,695, the most middling record owned by any team.

Atlanta Hawks
Atlanta Hawks /

Along with the Philadelphia 76ers, Atlanta has played 68 seasons of basketball, tied for the seventh most of all-time. Atlanta ranks fourth in playoff appearances, but their .429 playoff win percentage is 21st in the NBA. However, Philadelphia owns three champions. The Hawks captured their lone championship 59 years ago, as the St. Louis Hawks.

The Atlanta Hawks have largely been just another a team in business, experiencing neither highs, nor lows. Newly hired General Manager Travis Schlenk is making changes from the foundation up. Hawks’ President, Tony Ressler, made his vision for the Hawks’ future culture clear when speaking with play-by-play announcer, Bob Rathburn.

Hitting the reset button in Atlanta, undoubtedly allows Ressler to reach great heights quicker than coasting as a 4-6 seed any longer. Coach Mike Budenholzer’s club lacked an identity for the past two years, and wasn’t in position to find one during the 2017-2018 season. Rebranding was the only solution to return to team’s 2014-2015 form, whose share-the-ball identity was as clear as any in sports.

Schlenk and the front office have put the Atlanta Hawks in configuration to miss the postseason for the first time in ten years. The Hawks will likely not be invited the party this time around, but they have never truly enjoyed going out during the last decade.

Atlanta Hawks
WASHINGTON, DC –  APRIL 26: Dennis Schroder /

During the NBA’s second-longest current playoff appearance streak (10), the Hawks have advanced to the second round at a clip off .500%. Atlanta is 1-4 in those second round series, including three sweeps.

Many claim that peak disappointment came during the 2015 Eastern Conference Finals, as the first-seeded Hawks were swept by LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Hawks were swept by James in 2009, and remarkably again in 2016, making it three sweeps when facing the best player in the Eastern Conference. Failing to compete with the best is a sign that a team isn’t close to begin with.

The start from scratch began by allowing centerpiece, Paul Millsap to sign to the Denver Nuggets, without offering him a contract. However, the reactions from fans were not what’s typically expected when a four-time All-Star walks away for free. The decision with willingness. If Schlenk’s plan fails to yield the results, the fans will know that the front office was not satisfied with complacency.

Atlanta Hawks
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Schlenk is a founding father of the most dominant team since the turn of the century, the Golden State Warriors. Prior to his promotion to Assistant General Manager in 2011, the Warriors missed the playoffs 15 of out 16 seasons. Since that 2011 summer, the Warriors have missed the postseason only in 2012. Schlenk and his old staff created a culture that makes veterans accustomed to leading roles, accept smaller contracts to witness history from coming off the bench.

Andre Igoudala was rumored to be a free agent prospect for Atlanta this summer.
The 33 year old with an injury history, rejected the opportunity to possibly make more money with the Hawks as well as the Houston Rockets, to resign with Golden State. A roster controversy has not arose in Oakland, California since the debate to part ways with Monta Ellis over Steph Curry during the 2012 season.

Schlenk and others made the right decision, and showed belief in their young player before results began to show. Not only was Curry young and unproven, had an extensive ankle injuries, one of the worst irritants for a jump shooter.

Next: Hawks should embrace little brother role

One of the most important factors when a player chooses a team, is considering how much support the front office will give. Schlenk’s way of conducting business is a game-changer and holds franchise-changing fortunes.The beginning looks bleak Atlanta, but stay optimistic.