Nobody likes to lose in the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs when your team has a great chance to advance into the second round, but let’s face it; the Atlanta Hawks were not going to win the title anyways. In fact, I highly doubt the Hawks would have gotten past the Washington Wizards in the second round. However, despite an early exit from the postseason, Atlanta fans have to be excited about what the future holds.
The Hawks finally look like they have a coach who can take them deep into the playoffs. With coach Mike Budenholzer at the helm, he almost led this team to an amazing first-round upset over the No. 1 seeded Indiana Pacers. Unfortunately, coach Bud couldn’t get his players to execute late in some crucial games, like Game 6 at home in order to close out Indiana, but he showed he’s more than capable of leading this team into the future.
Not many coaches in the league could have made the playoffs with all the injuries Atlanta suffered this year. Yes, the Eastern Conference might have been weak this year, but that shouldn’t take anything away from the job Budenholzer did. When the guy had a healthy roster to work with, the Hawks were the third best team in the East. Then the injury bug struck, yet somehow he still managed to guide this team into the playoffs. Could you imagine what he could have done with Al Horford all year?
Horford was putting up career numbers in his first year under coach Bud’s system until he got hurt. His return next season will be huge for Atlanta. Horford is arguably the best player on the team, and with him back in the lineup next year the Hawks should be hard to beat. This is especially true after witnessing the emergence of Jeff Teague and Paul Millsap this season. Teague and Millsap really took it upon themselves to raise their game after watching their teammate go down with a season-ending injury.
Hopefully they can both build on their progress as well. If Teague plays as well as he did in the playoffs, he can easily be a top five point guard in my opinion. Millsap showed he’s more than capable of being a guy Atlanta can rely on as well. He was the team’s lone NBA All-Star this season, and I see no reason why he can’t continue to become even better. Add Horford into the mix with these two, and the Hawks have a three-headed monster that will be hard to stop.
However, the real reason Atlanta’s future looks bright is because of GM Danny Ferry. So far, Ferry has been fantastic in his short time with the Hawks. He’s made some great moves in free agency, and I expect him to be aggressive this offseason again. Atlanta has some cap space to work with, and it will be interesting to see who he goes after. Could the Hawks make a move for Carmelo Anthony? It might be wishful thinking, but either way, I believe Ferry will make a move that is best for this team now and into the future.