Posted: 9:11 am Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

When, if ever, will the Hawks find their Durant? 

By Mark Bradley

This would be your game-winner. (Alonzo Adams/AP.)

This would be the game-winner. (Alonzo Adams/AP)

I have great admiration for what the Atlanta Hawks have done and are doing. They’ve become an organization that is expertly run and a team that is cleverly coached, and when last could we say as much? If there’s a way to elevate this franchise to championship level, I now believe Danny Ferry and Mike Budenholzer will find it. That said …

With the exception of the 2003-2004 Detroit Pistons, every NBA champion since 1980 has been built around a superstar, and in many cases two superstars. The Hawks don’t have even one. And we reminded last night the difference one man can make in a game where teams play five a side.

One week after beating the Miami Heat and LeBron James, three nights after being blown out by San Antonio and Tim Duncan, the Hawks led Oklahoma City by 14 points in the second half and by seven with 5 1/2 minutes remaining. This, we remind you, was a Hawks team playing without two of its three best players (Al Horford, Jeff Teague) and without Horford’s backup (Pero Antic). This was a team that’s barely above .500 in the lousy NBA East facing the owner of the best record in the NBA West and doing it on the road, no less.

The Hawks were the better team nearly all game, and still they lost. They lost for the basic reason that the league’s second-best player scored 16 of his 41 points in the fourth quarter and made two go-ahead baskets in the final 25 seconds. Paul Millsap, who has been unbelievably good since arriving from Utah, answered the first with an outrageous flip, but there wasn’t time to offset the second.

The Hawks lost because OKC had Kevin Durant and they didn’t, which brings us to the greater issue. To become a champion, they’re going to need their Kevin Durant, but how do you get one of those? OKC drafted its when the franchise was based in Seattle. Miami signed LeBron away from Cleveland because it had the wherewithal to package him with Dwyane Wade, who was then one of the league’s five best players, and Chris Bosh, who was among the top 20.

Rick Sund, Ferry’s predecessor as general manager, would often say that teams don’t trade for superstars — they draft them. There was some thought that the Hawks might catch an unbelievable break and have Brooklyn flop so bad that it lands in the 2014 lottery and then wins the thing. (Owing to the Joe Johnson trade, the Hawks have the right to trade Round 1 picks with the Nets.) But Brooklyn has steadied and should make the playoffs, which would mean no lottery pick for the Hawks, no Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker or Joel Embiid.

Which would leave the Hawks where they’ve been since Ferry arrived — trying to do things the right way but the hard way. I give this team full credit for remaking itself in the image of San Antonio, where Ferry and Budenholzer once worked, but the cold reality is that the Spurs wouldn’t have become the model organization if the ping-pong balls hadn’t bounced their way in 1997, the year Duncan left Wake Forest.

San Antonio got lucky. As much as I applaud the Hawks’ diligence and expertise, I worry that diligence and expertise can take a franchise only so far. To become a champion, a team also has to get lucky. Let’s hope that what Branch Rickey, a GM in a different sport, said holds true in hoops. Let’s hope luck really is the residue of design.

From myajc.com, our premium site: Beating the Heat shows the Hawks are building the right way.

62 comments
LessIsMore
LessIsMore

Unfortunately, because coach Bud is a good coach.  The Hawks will have to find a diamond in the rough like DWade or Paul George.  By the way Hawks could have drafted George a few years ago.  Quit drafting guys overseas and get a  3 or 4 year starter at one of the colleges in this country.   Look at Al Horford.

lgwest1
lgwest1

 I don't think you're asking the proper questions. As Atlanta fans we all know we are not going to win a title. The Leagues (NBA.NHL and NFL ) are not going to allow that to happen. Tell me, if La Bron, kobe  and Durant are so good, why do they need so much help? Those games we have lost because of the officials this will be the difference in the standing. We know we are not going to win a title, hell we can't even win the ping pong ball with we are in the lottery, only getting 4th when we have all the balls. Orlando has won two are three times, New York won it to get Ewing (why do they chose not to show the drawing live and without the teams logo)? But as the league see it Atlanta fans doesn't deserve a fair opportunity. In the Durant game #11 ref. was there  and didn't make the call. Even if the NBA say he should made the call, we don't get that game back. Remember game 6 against Boston ? We were dismissed from the playoff because a call wasn't made at the end of the end of the game that the League stated 'should have been made'. We all know we can't get a break. Remember when one of the Hawks owners got fined for asking 'why the officials doesn't call the game the same at both end of the court. If the other teams are so much better why do they need so much help? We know we will never win a title.

 and I'm one of those people that say 'never say never' go figure.

BooBooBear
BooBooBear

The Hawks also drafted Dr. J but the ABA got him.  When it folded the Hawks had no rights to him.  Also, the Hawks finished with the worst record one year (or close to it, I forget what year), but the draft lottery made them bigger losers.  They picked 7th.  Maybe that was the year the first place Celtics drafted first and got Len Bias.  In the NBA, if you don't get the first pick overall, you often get a pig in a poke.

-OBrien-
-OBrien-

A top 5 pick doesn't guarantee a superstar. Just ask teams like Charlotte. But if your GM gets the pick right, then that speeds up the process.

Unfortunately for us, billy knight got our picks wrong.

As for shaq in Orlando, didnt he take them to the nba finals? Hawks have not even been to the conference final

-OBrien-
-OBrien-

Maybe ASG got used to the playoff revenue and didnt want to tank. But it sure would be nice to be in the running for a top 5 pick.

And as good as Duncan and spurs are this year, they are 1-11 against the top 7 teams in the NBA, but 32-1 against everybody else.

DisgustedFan
DisgustedFan

Too early to tell about Schroeder. 


He has not shown enough -- yet. 

BigTimeTECHFan
BigTimeTECHFan

Oh and I should have added, Schroeder is going to be a superstar. Only 19 and I wouldn't trade him for nothing. He's not going to be a big scorer, he will be more of a Magic / Stockton type player.


PG - Schroder

SG - L. Williams / Korver

C - Hortford 

PF - Millsap

SF - McDermott


Would be great team in Coach Bud's system

BigTimeTECHFan
BigTimeTECHFan

Nice read Mark.

Will say if Hawk get into top 10, they need to get 

Creighton's Doug McDermott, He dropped 39 on St John's last night. Carrying team to 1st place in the Big-East,If McDermott's gone Jabari Parker or Joel Embiid would be nice picks, don't think Wiggins is a top 10 pick this year

seapanther
seapanther

Well you can thank Billy Knight and his reign of error....2005 Marvin Williams over Chris Paul and Deron Williams...2006 Shelden Williams....2007 Acie Law IV are lottery misses that really hurt this team

BooBooBear
BooBooBear

"Ever" is past, present, and future.  So "ever" includes Pete Maravich and Dominique Williams.  It might be that "ever" done come and went.


patriotdog
patriotdog

The fact is, Billy Knight put this franchise in the tank with his drafts. Lottery picks of Sheldon, Marvin,

J Childress, J Smoove...ALL the same player: 6'8", 6'9" long armed types and passed up two of the two best point guards now playing in Deron Williams and Chris Paul. Throw in Acie Law, Pape Sy,

the list goes on and on. Billy Knight set the Hawks back 5-10 years.

devounknown1000
devounknown1000

2014 ATLANTA HAWKS


STARTER


MACK, CARMELO, MILLSAP, HORFORD, ASIK


BENCH


LOU, KORVER, CARROLL, SCOTT, ANTIC


RESERVE


SCHRODER, JENKINS


GO HAWKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

devounknown1000
devounknown1000



Three point guards, Mack could started with Lou and Schroder coming of the bench.


Lou


Mack


Schroder


GO HAWKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



devounknown1000
devounknown1000

Hawks have 4 point guards on the team.


Do you offer Teague for Asik


GO HAWKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

DisgustedFan
DisgustedFan

The Joe Johnson/Josh Smith teams were unlikable. 


Joe Johnson did not care if you fans showed up -- remember


This team is worthy of support -- even if I cannot get over this ownership and how they sabotaged the team I really cared about. 


I want the Hawks as they are now to get support -- its just that I do not want to spend my $$$$$ supporting this ownershio

DisgustedFan
DisgustedFan

I like what DF and Coach Bud have done -- but I will never forgive Levinson & Gearon for what went down with the hockey team that I truly loved. 


I will watch them on TV but refuse to patronize the Phillips till that group is gone.  The Phillips Arena is dead to me

DisgustedFan
DisgustedFan

We have not had star power since the ill advised Dominique trade -- for a guy who did not want to be here in Danny Manning. 


This is an interesting and unselfish team but will the city get behind this group till they get a dynamic superstar. 


And they are not going into the lottery -- I do not know how Ferry & Coach Bud get a superstar with the blitz to drive this town. 

devounknown1000
devounknown1000

Defending the paint is very important if want 2 be a championship type caliber team.


If you have at least 2 superstars on your team you might be able 2 win with out a true center defending the paint.


GO HAWKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

devounknown1000
devounknown1000

Hawks have get a true center point blank period.


GO HAWKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

brownie77
brownie77

I guess we need a superstar that pushes one our players down and then gets a wide open shot.  Meanwhile, we didn't have our two best players and were playing in their gym and we still should have won.  Really crappy article.  This is a good team and you should give them some credit instead whining about not having Kevin Durant.  Look what Toronto did and what Denver did.  You don't know a superstar you just need talent and it seems like Danny Ferry knows what he's doing.  Give the Hawks some credit.  You probably didn't even watch the game just the highlights. 

dirtyo11
dirtyo11

I like the direction this team is headed but at the same time Ferry is still suspect. He did not have a great draft. We could of been major players in the draft & we handled the Josh Smith situation the wrong way. We could of got something for Smith. Our draft picks have no turned out to be half way decent...at least not yet.

We had a good bit of money to pick up a decent SG or SF. I like the guys we got now but come on let's keep it real they are not going to be noise makers in the playoffs.

WE NEED TO MAKE A DECENT SPLASH BEFORE THE TRADE DEADLINE IF E WANT TO BE REAL CONTENDERS IN THE EAST.

We got a great 3 pt shooter (Korver), a great low post player (Millsap), a great defender (Carroll) & a good PG that need to be more consistent...Teague is too up & down he need to bring it every nite. Our supporting cast is good but we missing that real SF & SG

RodfromCollegePark
RodfromCollegePark

"My point Rod is Tim Duncan of this year/last year is about the same as Al Horford and the Spurs are right at the top of the west and last year tasted the championship before it slipped."

Tim Duncan and Al Horford should never be mentioned in the same sentence, ever.  There is no comparison.  The numbers might look similar, but there is a big difference.

JChikara
JChikara

Atlanta is at a point where they have to realize that the NBA has become a league that rewards wing players who can shoot, and if they want to get to that next level they will need to get that type of player. Maybe they can poach Indiana and get Lance Stephenson in free agency, but other than that they will need to make a trade. The coaching and front office is in place, but even they can only go so far with what they have on the floor. 

NajehDavenpoop
NajehDavenpoop

If they had tanked this year, maybe they would be drafting him in a few months.

TampGator1
TampGator1

@Seminoleking......


I lived and worked (downtown) during the Wilkins years and went to tons of Hawks games at the Omni....and it was sold out almost ever time I went.....because of......Mr. Wilkins....and very loud and very supportive of the Hawks.  The Atlanta fans at the time more than appreciated the human highlight film.  But it never hurt when Larry Bird or Magic Johnson came to town....impossible to get a ticket then,   But that was a different 'brand" of NBA basketball back then.  Today's "brand" is hardly worth watching to me.  Boring game to watch now, in my opinion.  Larry Bird, Magic, Wilkins....all were better players (team players) that what the NBA walks out on NBA courts as "superstars" today.  A team of Wilkins, Johnson, Magic, and others of that day would wipe the court of a team of today's superstars.....because they would understand the concept of playing as a team.   

Classof98
Classof98

It's funny that so many people want to give the Hawks credit for "discovering" Paul Millsap.  This is the same franchise that drafted the immortal bust Shelden Williams approximately 40 spots ahead of where the Jazz selected Millsap.


I thought it was a dumb move at the time (Millsap led the NCAA in rebounding all three years he was in college), and I was proven correct beyond my wildest dreams.


I realize this is a different front office than the one that drafted Williams, but the Hawks continue to be a day late and a dollar short.

RodfromCollegePark
RodfromCollegePark

"If the current San Antonio model has shown us anything its that you can win without a superstar . You don't need Durant or Lebron . San Antonio's only lottery pick is Tim Duncan and he is old bones ."

Really.  Tim Duncan is a superstar.  One of the biggest superstars of this generation.  Tim Duncan when he retires will probably go down as the greatest PF in the history of the NBA.  No Tim Duncan, The Spurs are the Hawks of the last 5 years.

RodfromCollegePark
RodfromCollegePark

"They’ve become an organization that is expertly run and a team that is cleverly coached, and when last could we say as much?"

The last 5 years.  We are and will be in the same position this year.  Decent regular season, 1rst or second round playoff loss.  It just looks better now.  No difference.

Glennsanity
Glennsanity

I was going to type that slydawg . The term to get a Durant is called " tanking " . Teams are going to be attempting it for about 5 players in this draft .

slydawg
slydawg

When, if ever, will the Hawks find their Durant?

Easy. When stop being good enough to make the 4th-5th seed in the playoffs every year and when they are bad enough, go with common sense and make common sense picks. The passing up of Darren Williams and/or Chris Paul, was a travesty of stupidity, given the nature of the NBA lottery and playoff system. An NBA team ca be bad for a very long time because you can't simply rebuild through the draft, like in all the other sports. Not since 1983 have the Hawks been in position to get a "Kevin Durant", who BTW is still no Dominique Wilkins, for my two cents......


Also, the ownership has to be willing to pay the luxury tax. If the Hawks keep winning the way they have( and I like it, system and coaching-wise), they have to be willing to put on a full-court-PR show. IMHO, this is now a transitional town (i.e. Los Angeles); Take a page out of Jerry Buss' book and bring in 'Showtime'!!!!!

USAF92
USAF92

Finding your superstar in the draft is a hit-and-miss proposition.  Certainly, it takes good scouting (historically not a strong suit  of the Hawks) but there are also plenty of "can't miss guys" who did miss.  Remember the highly touted Michael Beasley when he came out of Kansas State?  If the Hawks want to do it the right way, then they need to draft smart with better scouting and then open up their wallets for free agency.  Here is a list of the pending FA's for 2014.  


http://hoopshype.com/free_agency_2014.htm


The top 25 on that list contain some interesting options as well as some aging guys who should be avoided.  Nevertheless, there are a couple of guys on this list who would provide the centerpiece the Hawks need to build around.

Match369
Match369

Sorry guys I am a true atlanta fan in all aspects of the sports be we will never win a championship they just don't have the drive or talent.

seminoleking
seminoleking

mark, WHY are you ignoring the obvious fact that the nba CONTROLS where superstar players go, particularly the lottery. billy knight WASNT that dumb. the lottery has ALWAYS been fixed..........

DisgustedFan
DisgustedFan

@seapanther


Josh Chidress over Louil Deng was a bozo one too.


There were other better players available at the time

DisgustedFan
DisgustedFan

@Classof98


That GM is gone -- thank god. 


Shelden Williams was not the only big goof that Billy Knight made. 

jeffreyd
jeffreyd

@Classof98 That was 8 years ago with a completely different front office.


Also, if you're going to bring up NCAA stats, Williams was a consensus 1st team All American and the reigning defensive player of the year. It was a dumb pick in hindsight, but I don't think anybody knew how awful he would be and how great Chris Paul would be.

atlmertens
atlmertens

@RodfromCollegePark  Love this comment.  Plus Parker is a superstar and Ginobili was dominate from 03-08.  All 3 will be in the hall of fame.  The hawks have had 0 in that time frame.  

Glennsanity
Glennsanity

@RodfromCollegeParkMy point Rod is Tim Duncan of this year/last year is about the same as Al Horford and the Spurs are right at the top of the west and last year tasted the championship before it slipped . He is SA's only lottery player but yes he has had a superstar career .

Classof98
Classof98

@RodfromCollegePark Agreed.  For people who are more impressed by wins than highlights, Duncan is arguably one of the ten greatest players in basketball history.

JChikara
JChikara

@RodfromCollegePark The only difference is that when Atlanta loses in the 1st round again this year, they won't be looked down upon because Josh Smith is no longer here. 

maconexpress
maconexpress

I agree. Passing on Chris Paul for MW was a huge mistake and trading the 2001 3rd overall pick(pau gasol) was another huge mistake. It's not DF fault that the GMs before him fail to recognize a potential superstar.

I hope DF doesn't deliberately throw away the season for a lottery pick because I don't  believe anything good would come out that. I rather he bring up Lucas Nogueira and Mike Muscala and let those guys get some nba experience. They could help the team this season.

jeffreyd
jeffreyd

@slydawg But will that make a difference? The Thunder still haven't been able to win a championship with Durant. The Cavs weren't able to win after tanking to get LeBron.

JChikara
JChikara

@USAF92 Atlanta opened up their wallets in Free Agency last year and still couldn't land a top tier free agent. Say what you will about Milsap, and he is an All Star, but he's not carrying this team to the conference finals by himself. 

atlmertens
atlmertens

@Match369 Never? How do you know what the roster will look like in 3, 5, or 10 years from now?? It's such an absurd statement I don't even know why I'm responding.  

KarlWelzein
KarlWelzein

@seminoleking  Drafting Marvin Williams over Chris Paul and Deron Williams, Sheldon Williams with the 5th pick, Acie Law, etc. Yeah he WASNT that dumb...

JChikara
JChikara

@jeffreyd @slydawg At least the Thunder has been able to at least get to the conference finals, something the Hawks haven't done in 47 years! Jefferyd at least these teams had a chance to win, just because they didn't finish it doesn't mean they're failures. Jordan didn't win a title until year 8, and the only reason Magic won a title in his first year is because of the talent around him. Put him on Cleveland by himself and they wouldn't have won squat. 

seminoleking
seminoleking

@KarlWelzein @seminoleking 


like i said. the nba is a travelling CIRCUS. its all MARKETING. they dont market teams, they market PLAYERS. its fixed. thats why jim rome confronted sterns about the nba fixing the lottery on his radio show and sterns pitched a hissy fit. knight wasnt that dumb. he was instructed on who to NOT pick in those drafts........

seminoleking
seminoleking

@atlmertens @KarlWelzein @seminoleking 


they overpaid joe johnson too. look, its a BUSINESS. they overpay to keep the NAME of the player on the hawks brand. joe is a better example than williams, but its the same philosophy. remember when the hawks were up for sale? the owners HAD to have SOMETHING to make the new owners feel the hawks were MARKETABLE ( gonna make some money). soo, the hawks overpaid to keep the SEMBLANCE of superstars they had ( williams, johnson, etc.). then, notice how when the owners decided to keep the hawks, they dumped the big contracts.......

JChikara
JChikara

@seminoleking Is that why the Knicks selected Fredric Weis over Metta World Peace? If that is the case, then why doesn't cities like Philadelphia and Detroit, you know, NBA hot beds, have superstar talent now?