Are the Atlanta Hawks possibly still flying under the radar?

Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

Atlanta Hawks fans will tell you this has been one heck of a year. The team turned around their record mid-season, went deep into the postseason, and have had a solid (if not spectacular) offseason. Yet it seems that the NBA universe still sees them as an “up-and-comer” or that last year was some sort of fluke.

Most outlets have released an updated power ranking — we did ours on the Southeast Divison — and virtually all of them have the Hawks, not only fourth in the Eastern Conference but they are consistently ranked behind the Miami Heat.

In case you were wondering the Hawks took two out of the three games against the Heat in the regular season.

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Atlanta outscored Miami 103-97 in those games. And before anyone brings up the additions of Kyle Lowry and P.J. Tucker, remember the Hawks were one of the most injury-riddled teams in the NBA last season.

Their third-best player (or second depending on who you ask), De’Andre Hunter missed all but the first five games of their playoff run.

Cam Reddish missed all but four games. And, while he was big in the Eastern Conference Finals, he admitted to not being in game shape.

Trae Young missed time last season as did John Collins while the duo also dealt with some friction early in the year.

Yet, with Onyeka Okongu as the only question mark — he will reportedly be out until February, not January as originally expected — most outlets have them ranked below a team that finished worse while being healthier.

There is a worse slight, though, as ESPN has them below the Philadelphia 76ers. The most recent reports are that Ben Simmons isn’t taking the team’s calls. Even if he shows up, we all remember how Philly’s season ended and who ended it, right? This was after Young turned the lights out in Madison Square Garden.

It’s likely just a hedge against all of the injury woes the NBA saw last season, with ESPN releasing research showing injuries at their highest rate in years. Still, that would have to include the Hawks.

The only two acceptable options are (since these are preseason rankings) Milwaukee and Brooklyn. Atlanta took one team six games and the other has to prove it can stay healthy.

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We won’t act like these rankings are projecting the Hawks to be a lottery team, far from it. And they certainly won’t catch anyone by surprise. But they still aren’t getting their due. It would be more acceptable if the Hawks hadn’t shown they could take on the teams ahead of them even when hobbled.