Last Season’s Record: 60-22 (Southeastern Division Champions, best record in Eastern Conference)
“I’m so proud of you Atlanta! I’m going to hang this right on the fridge.”
(Seriously, who made this decision? What a horrible banner. The Hawks would be better off with a shameful, Taylor Swift World Tour banner.)
Key Additions: Tiago Splitter, Tim Hardaway Jr., Justin Holiday
Key Losses: DeMarre Carroll, Pero Antic
(Full disclosure, before I begin: I am a Hawks fan. With that said, like every other Hawks fan, I understand being a fan of this team has its challenges.)
Team’s Outlook: The 2014-15 season was an unexpected success, featuring a 19-game winning streak, the emergence of Dennis Schröder, and the 1st-Seed in the Eastern Conference. 2015-16 probably won’t be another 60 win season, because losing key role players Carroll and Antic won’t be a net positive. However, Horford should see more duty at power forward with the addition of Tiago Splitter.
You should root for this team because:
You want anyone but LeBron James and the Cavs to win the Eastern Conference. I mean, honestly, that’s the only reason I can think of. Everything else about Atlanta sucks, because Atlanta fans are the worst professional sports fans, on the goddamn planet.
You should NOT root for this team because…
If the Spurs are Ruth’s Chris with a steamy side, well, the Hawks are a 16oz, North Georgia, water trash, Hungry Man, proudly advertising “1 POUND!” right on the packaging. Fuck it, the Hawks are even re-heating Tiago Splitter’s leftovers to pair with their hungry man deal. Coach Bud looked at Coach Pop and said, “Hey, Pop, you gonna eat that meatball sub you just threw in the trash?” So Pop looks at Bud and says, “Nah Bud, don’t eat that. It was no good when it was fresh, and it’s still no good now.” So Bud says, “No way, Pop. I’m gonna eat the fuck outta this cold ass meatball sub.”
That’s your center, Atlanta. The cold meatball sub Pop discarded, known as Tiago Splitter.
Is Atlanta really that bad?
Yes. Last year, I traveled from my home in Nashville, TN to see the Hawks play the Lakers for my birthday. It was a magical evening in Atlanta, with cool autumn air perfectly setting the mood for the evening. I was born and raised in Atlanta, and all I wanted to see what the corpse of “grit and determination” Kobe Bryant himself, be pounded into oblivion by what was, for all intents and purposes, a superior Hawks team.
Would that happen? Fuck no. Because Atlanta is the worst city for professional sports in all of professional sports. I’m talking about a city twice the size of Nashville that has lost not one, but two hockey teams, because “fans” can’t be bothered to go to Phillips Arena for anything other than Disney on Ice.
There was so much purple and gold in Phillips Arena, you’d be hard pressed knowing it was a home game. In my section, there were literally zero people wearing Hawks gear. Everyone was either wearing Bryant jerseys, or throwbacks of Magic. I hated every moment, because I know all those fans live in Atlanta, and they just don’t respect anything about the teams they’re supposed to cheer for.
I mean, we’re talking about Atlanta Fucking Georgia, the city whose Atlanta Braves won 14 consecutive NL East Pennants, and fans who cleverly dressed as empty seats for every home game.
Predictably, as the Hawks were mounting a comeback, they got booed (loudly) in their own goddamn arena. Fuck everything about Atlanta and the fair-weather fans fresh off the Miami Heat-slash-LeBron bandwagon.
Losing Carroll and replacing him with Hardaway Jr. was a horrible idea.
This is one of those things that’s hard to stress enough, but I’ll put it like this: Fuck Tim Hardaway Jr. with a baseball bat loaded with broken glass. There are Tim Hardaway Jr. Fatheads that play defense better than the real life version of Tim Hardaway Jr. At least the fucking Fathead has a chance of sticking to someone, and at least being an annoyance.
Perhaps, just perhaps, Thabo Sefolosha can fill in on defense. In fact, the only thing that got by Sefolosha last year was New York. No, not the dumpster fire playing in Madison Square Garden. I mean the NYPD, who broke his leg prior to the playoffs. To his credit, Sefolosha appears to be as fierce a defender off the court, as he is on the court – rejecting a plea deal for one hour of community service, and pressing to exonerate himself.
2015-16 Projected Record: 48-34
I’m a fan, but I’m also realistic about how anomalous 2014-15 was. 19-game winning streaks don’t happen out of nowhere, and it’s highly unlikely Kyle Korver retains his obscene 50-50-90 numbers. Teague will return to earth, Horford will continue playing like the 80% value Tim Duncan that he is, and Paul Millsap will be a great player on a team that is just slightly more than the sum of its parts.
The Hawks will finish their season, in Cleveland, after being steamrolled by the greatest player in NBA history, with a full compliment of All-Stars. Fuck LeBron James. Fuck the East. Fuck Atlanta. And Fuck Danny Ferry for building a great team before going on a racist tirade and handing the team to a GM who thought, “Fuck yeah let’s try out Tim Hardaway Jr.”