Atlanta Hawks Can Make the Playoffs in a Weak Eastern Conference

John Collins #20 of the Atlanta Hawks (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
John Collins #20 of the Atlanta Hawks (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /
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Atlanta Hawks
Trae Young #11 of the Atlanta Hawks (Photo by Michelle Farsi/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Eastern Conference Outlook, Part 3

The Cavs are heading into their second era without LeBron, and besides drafting Kyrie Irving, their first era didn’t work out so well. They do have 5-time All-Star Kevin Love at the helm this time, and maybe he’ll finally look more like the K. Love we saw in Minnesota. They have a few other offensive weapons left over from their four straight Finals runs like J.R Smith, Kyle Korver and Tristan Thompson, among others, and have Collin Sexton and Larry Nance Jr. who both have potential for being above-average starters, or more. Still, a lot would need to go right for Cleveland to be playing deep into April.

In the cellar with the Hawks are the Magic, Knicks and Bulls. The Knicks could be in the conversation for a low seed if they weren’t without their star big man, Kristaps Porzingis. He has no timetable to return and might not see the court this season, meaning the Knicks likely won’t see the playoffs either.

The Magic’s roster is a mess. Jonathan Simmons is probably their best player, but Mo Bamba could easily overtake that mantle in his rookie year. They’re a few years away.

Chicago will also be dealing with a major injury to their best player, Lauri Markkanen, who is slated to miss at least the first month of the season, and likely won’t get enough out of their highly paid free agents (Jabari Parker, Zach Lavine) to make a playoff push.

Must Read. Fascinating Year Awaits GM Schlenk and Coach Pierce. light

This just leaves the Hawks.

So, after all this, let’s say the Raptors, Celtics, 76ers, Bucks, Pacers and Wizards all make the playoffs. You could make a case for any of the teams left making one of those final two playoff spots. So could the Atlanta Hawks make a miraculous run into one of these final spots? Surprisingly, yes.

Last year, the Wizards locked up the eighth seed with 43 wins. We can expect this number to go down with the East being so top-heavy, Toronto, Philly and Boston should all rack up at least 55 wins, probably more, by beating up on the lower 12 teams.

Even if we say a team has to win 40 games to make the eighth seed this season, that would be an increase of 16 wins for the Hawks.

Here’s how they can do that.