Wednesday, July 19, 2017
Wednesday Windmill: The Atlanta Hawks are tanking and I don't know why
The Atlanta Hawks are tanking and I don't know why. To be clear, I know why teams tank. They tank to get higher draft picks so that they can be better for the long term. The Atlanta Hawks, however, are a team who seemed to tank for no good reason. They went 43-39 last season, which was good enough for 5th place in the Eastern Conference. The year before that, they were 48-34, which was good enough for 3rd place in the Eastern Conference, though they fell to 4th place due to a tiebreaker. In the 2014-15 season, the Hawks finished with the best record in the Eastern Conference at 60-22 with Paul Millsap, Al Horford, Jeff Teague, and Kyle Korver as their core, all of whom are no longer with the team.
Since the 2014-15 season, the Hawks have gone downhill, wholesaling their best players to other teams without wanting anything good in return. Rather than trying build around a core that won 60 games, the Hawks decided to blow the whole thing up and start anew, believing that what they had wasn't going to produce a championship no matter what moves they made.
While I understand the tanking philosophy and acknowledge that it has its place, the Hawks were not a team in need of embracing it. They should have instead embraced the quality roster that they had in the 2014-15 season and done all they could to enhance it for the purposes of better positioning themselves for a championship run.
By embracing the "If you're not first, you're last" mantra of Ricky Bobby, the Hawks have robbed their fans of witnessing deep playoff runs year in and year out. While it is true that the ultimate goal is to win a championship, it's not like the only successful seasons are the ones that result in a championship. Reaching the conference finals is a successful season that gets your fans excited. Winning a playoff series can also be considered a successful season, especially if you are a young and up and coming team.
My point is that if your ceiling is to reach the conference finals for a few years in a row, ride that ship out and see where that takes you. You never know, maybe someone gets hurt and you find yourself in the NBA Finals. If you are positioned to make those kind of runs year in and year out, tanking is not the solution to getting over the hump.
With most teams that tank, I understand why they are doing it. They're far from winning a championship and are in need of replenishing with young talent. The Hawks however were not in either of those camps. They were close to winning a championship and had a talented core that had plenty of years left. Taking a nosedive like this is very perplexing and difficult to understand.
Wednesday Windmill is a weekly piece that focuses on the Eastern Conference
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