Ceiling, Floor, and where the Hawks stack up in the East
After going 41-41 in the 2022-2023 season, Atlanta is expected to be better than average in 2023-2024. But how high can the Hawks truly go? It isn’t unreasonable to believe that Atlanta can be a top-six seed in the postseason. In fact, they may be able to get up to as high as the five seed or even secure home-court advantage as the fourth seed. Looking at the other teams in the Eastern Conference, there is a path for the Hawks to possibly get the fourth seed. On paper, Atlanta has the talent and coaching, but how do they stack up with the rest of the Eastern Conference?
Let’s start with teams that Atlanta probably won’t be better than this season. It’s safe to assume that Boston and Milwaukee will grab the top two spots in the conference. They finished there last season and come back with better rosters this season. With the recent drama in the 76ers organization, it is possible they have a down year. James Harden is disgruntled and the Sixers could underperform with him in the lineup.
That said, Miami could be near the top of the conference once again. They underperformed last season, but if they can get Damian Lillard, Miami could run the table in the Eastern Conference once again. Jalen Brunson had a breakout season with New York and is expected to be very competitive this season. However, talent-wise, the Hawks stack up nicely here. Could we be in for another epic four vs five matchup between the Hawks and Knicks? It isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
While Atlanta can easily be as high as a four seed this season, the play-in tournament could also stare them in the face. At the end of the day, the Hawks are still a young team and could go through growing pains. Atlanta had a quiet offseason and didn’t really have the flexibility to improve the roster. As of now, Clint Capela and De’Andre Hunter remain on the roster with no outlet to trade them. With the Hawks showing no real improvement with the talent on the roster, they could easily be average once again.
Like the Hawks, there are a lot of young teams in the Eastern Conference looking to take a leap this season. Of that group of teams, Indiana looks the most promising. Other teams like the Nets and even the Magic could make a run at the play-in tournament. Chicago came back with the same team as last season and so did Toronto so they could also make a run at the play-in tournament. The Eastern Conference is largely unpredictable and while the Hawks could be in the top-six, they could just as easily once again fall to the play-in tournament.