- “Fix It” is a series that shows how each NBA team has the potential to improve, focusing on how team success can be built over the long-term instead of simply year over year. The ultimate goal is to create a team capable of winning consistently for a decade.
The Atlanta Hawks are possibly the worst nightmare for an NBA general manager; an average team with poor attendance – they have finished in the bottom 10 for attendance in 12 of the past 13 seasons – that goes to the playoffs but cannot elevate into contention. While the team is currently on a seven-year streak of making the playoffs, they’re also on a 54-year streak of not winning an NBA championship (second longest in the NBA). This has been due mostly to poor choices in the draft (Marvin Williams over Chris Paul, Shelden Williams in 2006) and an inability to break out of their cycle of mediocrity in the playoffs.
The Good: Danny Ferry. Having served as the Vice President of Basketball Operations for the San Antonio Spurs, Ferry has seen first-hand how signing previously incorrectly utilized players to fit your system can benefit a team. So rather than signing a bunch of players to one-year contracts like the Los Angeles Lakers, Ferry focused on signing players who will help out his team both as better fits for their system and as trade assets. Great examples are the contracts of Kyle Korver (four years, $24M) and Paul Millsap (two years, $19M). Each signed a reasonable contract that keeps them as a viable asset if a deal comes along. While for the time being this team will continue the trend of mediocrity, they have enough tradable assets that they could potentially be the Houston Rockets of the East, ready to pounce on a James Harden or Dwight Howard type of deal.
The Bad: Mediocrity doesn’t pay. This team has only drafted three All-Stars in franchise history…three. Without bottoming out, this probably won’t change anytime soon. So while late first-round pick Dennis Schroeder has an immense amount of promise, the likelihood that he becomes Rajon Rondo is slim, leaving this roster with only one real cornerstone in Al Horford. Without another star (or two) to pair Horford with, this team is going to continue to go nowhere. They also appear headed for another bottom 10 finish in attendance (currently 26th).
The Fix: Stay the course. Continue handpicking players that fit your team in free agency, trades, and the draft. Ferry has stocked up his own picks, along with three extra second round picks from the Brooklyn Nets and Miami Heat as well as the right to swap first-round picks with Brooklyn in 2014. Additionally, the Hawks have six expiring contracts this season that could allow them to be a trade partner to a team trying to shed a salary, landing them a quality player prior to the trade deadline.