Don’t laugh, I’m being serious.
The Hawks starting five is the first in NBA history to win players of the month. Courtesy: Scott Cunningham/Getty Images
I understand the skepticism. The same franchise that has gone 219-175 (.556) in the last 5 years and was an eight seed just last season is the best in the NBA? I hear you, “this isn’t the NFL, teams don’t go from worse to first overnight in the NBA.”
But here we sit at the All-Star break and the Atlanta Hawks have the most wins in the NBA at 43-11 (.811). Even with four players—Al Horford, Paul Milsap, Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver replacing Dwayne Wade—competing in this weekend’s All-Star game, still no one will call them the best team in basketball or favor them to win the NBA Title, but they should.
After starting the season at 7-6, they ran off 35 wins in 38 games, which included a franchise record and league high 19 game win streak. Oh, and a NBA record 17-0 in the month of January.
Don’t think they’re just feasting on the weaker Eastern Conference either. Atlanta is 14-4 against Western teams—9-3 against the top 8 teams in the West; 14-5 against the top 8 teams in the East.
If you need analytics or others stats to prove the Hawks are for real, here you go. According to ESPN’s Hollinger Stats, Atlanta leads the NBA in assist ratio at 19.7. They’re 2nd in effective field goal percentage (54.1) and true shooting percentage (57.2) only to the Golden State Warriors, the team with the best record in the Western Conference, who the Hawks have already beaten. The Hawks are also 2nd in assists to turnover ratio (1.95) , assists per game (25.8), point differential (+6.7) and tied for 3rd in points per game (96.8).
15 of their remaining 28 games are against team currently in the playoffs. So we will learn if they have the killer instinct needed to not only lock up home court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs, but can they continue to handle their own against the league’s best.
The “experts” say they’re a nice regular season team that will lose in the second round because they have no go-to-guy for the clutch moments. I say they have at least four. That means they have legit options that their opponents have to worry about. As some say, you’re only as good as your options, and they have some real good ones.