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Entering just the second year of a Danny Ferry-led overhaul, the Atlanta Hawks are already a whole new team. With aggressive ownership and a fan base yearning for a team they can get behind, Ferry is engineering wholesale organizational change. With a new coach, young talent and plenty of new hope, the Hawks are ready to soar.
A Brief History
Founded as the Buffalo Bison in the mid-1940s, the Atlanta Hawks made stops in Moline (Ill.), Milwaukee and St. Louis (where they won their sole NBA championship on a team led by all-timer Bob Pettit) before arriving in Atlanta in 1968.
Playing home games in the iconic Omni for a quarter century, the Hawks featured stars “Pistol” Pete Maravich, Lou Hudson, Walt Bellamy and Moses Malone. But far and away the player most associated with the Atlanta Hawks is Dominique Wilkins aka “The Human Highlight Reel.” A prolific and acrobatic scorer, Wilkins lit up the Atlanta skyline for a dozen years and put the Hawks in the global spotlight.
Though the franchise boasts just the one NBA title, the Hawks have been among the most consistent playoff teams in the league. With the exception of one four-year period in the mid-70s and an eight-year playoff drought in the 2000s, the Hawks haven’t missed consecutive post-season bids since the 1950s.
A New Era Begins
Yes, the Hawks had made the playoffs six straight years and yes, they were likely headed for another berth in 2013-14 had they stuck with the same nucleus. But Danny Ferry didn’t come to Atlanta to settle for complacency. In the off-season heading into 2013-14, the Hawks let longtime franchise cornerstone Josh Smith leave for Detroit. While the Atlanta native was an exceptional defensive player and the heart of the team, Paul Millsap steps into his shoes with a franchise-friendly contract and the team shouldn’t miss a beat.
With Millsap in the mix down-low alongside fellow newcomer Elton Brand, the Hawks can continue to build around Al Horford and Jeff Teague, two of the most rapidly improving players in the NBA. Re-signing sharpshooter Kyle Korver was huge as he stretches opposing defenses as well as anyone in the game. In the draft, the Hawks brought in German pro Dennis Schroeder who has drawn comparisons to Rajon Rondo and Ricky Rubio. Though fellow rookie Lucas Noguiera will continue to ripen in Europe, the Hawks have high hopes for both of these newcomers.
In Budenholzer They Trust
After a long apprenticeship under Gregg Popovich in San Antonio, Mike Budenholzer gets his first chance to coach an NBA team. While the new coach may be unknown to most fans, GM Danny Ferry worked closely with Budenholzer while a member of the Spurs front office, so if you believe in Ferry’s talent evaluation abilities (and you should), then this must be seen as an astute hire.
Ball Night in the ATL
With Al Horford, Jeff Teague and Paul Millsap forming the nucleus in Atlanta and a couple of young studs with unlimited upside on the way in, the Hawks are brand new team in 2013-14. Head out to Philips Arena with guaranteed savings from ScoreBig and get in on the action