The Terroir of the Atlanta Hawks

Steve McPherson, writing for the Rolling Stone:

In a league where teams from the suddenly relevant Cavaliers to the meticulously constructed Rockets bet big on luring multiple stars in the hopes of contending, the Hawks seem neither totally lucky nor completely intentional, yet find themselves on top of the Eastern Conference and riding a 15-game winning streak.

This team has been dubbed the Spurs of the East: you can’t point the finger at any one Hawk player and say, he’s the reason they’re so good this year. Instead, it’s a collective effort, on both ends of the floor. As this article states, all of their starters are averaging double-digit points per game, but none are averaging more than 20.”

Steve McPherson captured the essence of this team beautifully, breaking down why a player like Kyle Korver is better than he’s ever been. Here’s an incredible stat for you:

If his current numbers hold, Korver will be the first player in the league to notch a 90/50/50 season from the free throw line, arc and field. To put that in some perspective, Korver scores more efficiently from the floor in the flow of the game than an average player does from the free throw line, and he scores pretty damn efficiently from there as well.

It’s exciting to see a team like the Atlanta Hawks catch the league by surprise and dominate for so long. As I’m writing this, they’re currently the league’s best team, at 36-8, with a 15 game winning streak, the longest in franchise history.

An NBA season is more landscape than building and the Hawks, partly by design and partly by happenstance, have come across a terroir — a group of players, a coach, a system, an approach — that is producing some of the NBAs finest play right now. Whether it will hold up under the harsh glare and focused attention of the playoffs is another matter, but they can’t face that problem before they get to it.

This team is playing some really great basketball. They look like a team that’s been doing this for years. Thanks to NBA League Pass, I’ll be watching them closely for the rest of the season. They now have my full attention.

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