Surging young teams, MVP performances and superstar-laden rosters gone wrong have dominated the NBA lexicon through the first 15-or-so games of the 2022-23 season, but they don’t tell the full story of this landscape. Although the Donovan Mitchell experiment in Cleveland drew much of the offseason hype elsewhere, a 9-5 start by the Atlanta Hawks has flown under the radar to the casual viewer.
As they planned when packaging their draft picks with an expiring salary in the Dejounte Murray trade, the All-Star point guard is setting the tone of his team on both sides of the floor. Through Murray’s burgeoning leadership role in the locker room and wise points of emphasis from head coach Nate McMillan, Atlanta is establishing itself on the defensive end while enjoying huge performances from its starting five on the offensive end.
In turn, this team is winning tough ball games.
Without making much noise, the Atlanta Hawks are playing like a top 5 team.
Sitting at third in their conference, the Atlanta Hawks have a better record than all but five teams coming off a season in which they finished eighth in the East. Their directives are clear and the gameplan is concise, leading to key wins against the 76ers, Bucks and Pelicans in pursuit of home-court advantage in the Playoffs.
Such decisive play deserves praise, and while it’s far from perfect, the team has much to be excited about. Offense has never been an issue for Atlanta — particularly with Trae Young leading the scoring barrage through his usual flurry of outside jumpers, free-throws and floaters. But that isn’t what has this team in such high spirits. It’s the dedication to both sides of the floor through consistent effort and clearly outlined roles that put the Hawks near the top of the standings.