The Hawks Transformation
By Daniel Miller
The Atlanta Hawks are well on their way to their fifth consecutive regular season posting 40 or more wins. That is a great accomplishment especially for a city and organization that has experienced way too many disappointments. There are several NBA teams that would love to have had this recent success, but for the Hawks there always seems to be constant skepticism. The last four years the “core “players of Marvin Williams, Al Horford, Josh Smith, and Joe Johnson paced the way, but when it came time in the playoffs they all trended down instead of up. There playoff journeys began when this team had no expectations, but ended up winning all three home games in exciting down to the wire fashion at Phillips Arena, and taking the eventual NBA champion Boston Celtics to a do or die seven game series before ultimately losing. That series to this day was still the loudest I have ever heard Phillips Arena. The Boston series gave fans including myself a belief that the Hawks can continue the momentum and annually contend for the ultimate goal of a championship. In the following next couple seasons the Hawks posted win totals of 47 and 53 games in the regular season, but this time fans and media had bigger expectations come playoff time. In both seasons the Hawks were able to win a first round playoff series but just as all other Hawks teams of the past could not advance past the second round. The losses out did the wins and in sports what you do in the postseason defines a team’s success.
So after another disappointing playoff exit to the Boston Celtics no less, the unthinkable happened. The Hawks went out and hired a new General Manager in Danny Ferry and after a quick few days on the job, Ferry traded Joe Johnson and his 126 Million dollar contract away and Marvin Williams away. With two landmark moves in a period of hours of each other, it wiped nearly $90 million off the pay-roll. The Hawks went from a franchise that considered losing in the second round of the playoffs to be the acceptable to being one that could matter for the first time since Dominique Wilkins was making nightly highlight films. The assets that Ferry was able to get back in return have all been solid players. Kyle Korver, Devin Harris, Deshawn Stevenson, have all been efficient so far in replacing the productivity of Johnson. Just like that, from July 2 on there is now a renewed hope and optimism that this organization can get back on track. The Hawks began this season 19-9 and entering play tonight are 32-23 and in a tie for 5th in the eastern conference. Everyone seems to have been reenergized and the Hawks are playing like a team it. If the Hawks continue their pace they should end up reaching the 50 win plateau again and I have a gut feeling you will be witnessing several playoff wins from this group. The bottom line is whatever happens this season for the Hawks will go under the radar as teams such as Miami, Indiana, and New York will grab most of the NBA coverage, but for the Atlanta Hawks and its fans, that’s how this team wants it to be.