By Justin Danziger
Stats current as of Feb. 2
Last season, the San Antonio Spurs won the NBA Finals based on one principle: teamwork. The team was aging and Tim Duncan couldn’t be solely relied on for the scoring load. This was where Gregg Popovich came in. Pop put together a deep, unselfish group of basketball players where no player wanted to score more than they
wanted their teammate to score. It got them through the playoffs and eventually to the
NBA Finals where they pummeled the star-studded Miami Heat. It was magical.
Fast forward to 2015.
The Atlanta Hawks are ruling the Eastern Conference and are amid a franchise record winning streak. Nobody could have predicted this. Coached by Pop’s ex-assistant, Mike Budenholzer, the Hawks are implementing a system similar to the 2014 Spurs, a system based on teamwork. If you watch Atlanta run a play, the similarities with the Spurs are incredible.
Before I delve into what makes this team so great…let me put one big myth to
rest. The Atlanta Hawks are not a star-less team. Claims can be heard around the
country saying “the Hawks don’t have a star, how can they make the Finals?” or even
“the Hawks don’t have a star, how can they NOT make the Finals?” The truth is, the Hawks are LOADED with stars!!! They have three Eastern Conference All Stars in Jeff Teague, Paul Millsap, and Al Horford, and a borderline All Star in Kyle Korver (yes, the man who was once traded for a copy machine). Their starting lineup is potentially filled with the most talent in the entire league.
The 2014 Spurs were such a deep team. The starting lineup consisted of two star
veterans, a young, all around talent, a shooter, and a rim protector. The
Hawks are built nearly the same way, except for the veterans. The scoring is balanced
inside and out, with Korver and Carroll drawing defenders out and Horford and Millsap
attracting them in. Everyone can move the ball like a guard. It is beautiful to watch.
2) They are a dynasty in the making
Four out of the five starters are thirty years old or younger. Only Korver is over 30 years old. Horford and Teague have been playing together for five seasons. Korver joined in three years ago. Millsap and Carroll joined two seasons ago. And the thing is, no player plans on leaving any time soon.
The big question surrounding the Hawks is: can they win the Finals?
Yes, they can.
So what if they don’t have LeBron James or Kevin Durant caliber talent? They play basketball how it is meant to be played, as a team.