We’ve kicked around the Hawks, sometimes pretty hard, these past few days, but amid all the discussions regarding who’s to blame — Woody? Joe? Red Auerbach? — a greater truth has been obscured if not missed entirely. So here goes:
The Hawks won more games than they should’ve and lost exactly when they should’ve.
They were 37-45 in 2007-2008. They improved 10 games without adding a starter. (And despite losing the Grecian earner Josh Childress.) They moved from the No. 8 seed in the East to the No. 4 seed. They won a first-round series over the No. 5 seed. They lost in Round 2 to the top seed. I’ve been a harsh critic of this franchise over the past quarter-century, but I’d say these Hawks gave good value for what they had.
And what exactly did they have? Well, according to the All-NBA team released Wednesday, not all that much. Joe Johnson finished 19th in the voting, which placed him among the honorable mentions, and no other Hawk received even a single vote. (Heck, Jermaine O’Neal received a single vote.)
In the postseason, they beat an opponent (Miami) that had a first-team All-Star and lost to one (Cleveland) that had a unanimous first-teamer. In the regular season they finished behind one Eastern club (Orlando) that had a first-teamer and another (Boston) that had a second-teamer. In a league where stars drive the bus, should we have expected any more from the Hawks?
Not really. Oh, it’d have been nice if they’d given the Cavs a run, but with three starters injured that was never going to happen. The bottom line: This is a talented team but not a great team. Nobody had a breakout season. Not one Hawk finished among the league’s top 10 in scoring, rebounding, assists, steals or blocked shots. Neither Josh Smith nor Al Horford received a vote for the all-defensive team.
Me, I’d say they did OK for themselves. But maybe that’s just me, and maybe I’m getting senile in my old age.