Atlanta Hawks: They're Still Contenders
Despite a mid-season lull, if the Atlanta Hawks keep Paul Millsap they’re still serious contenders in the Eastern Conference.
The Toronto Raptors may have the general perception that acquiring Paul Millsap from the Atlanta Hawks can get them past the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference, but there are no guarantees in the NBA. While Millsap is a very good player, adding him to the mix would be like the Raptors approaching Cleveland’s monster truck with a Ford Taurus, instead of the Geo Prizm that they currently have. They are not close to contention for an NBA title, not by a long shot.
The best thing that Toronto has going for them is their back-court. DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry are a tandem that could go toe-to-toe with any other guard duo in the league. But, even what has to be considered as their greatest strength is not the best in the NBA. The Golden State Warriors are the squad that boasts the most talent there, with the Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson tag team they’ve got.
Let’s say, just for good measure, that the Raptors found a way to obtain Millsap from the Hawks using only draft picks and spare parts. So, what would happen is that Paul Millsap would replace Patrick Patterson in the starting lineup.
Kyrie Irving is still much better than Lowry, and the Cavaliers have an all-star power forward of their own in Kevin Love. Then they have LeBron James, who would beat Toronto’s wings in a game of 21 every time. He might actually do the same against Toronto’s whole roster.
Even though the Raptors have a better record, the Hawks are closer to competing with Cleveland if they keep Millsap. I’m not in favor of the “blow it up and start over” strategy quite yet.
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Call me crazy, but I think that all Atlanta really needs is a formidable small forward. In the very near future, although not this season, Taurean Prince can fill that void. What I would like to see Atlanta do, is trade the other guys that they are rumored to be fielding offers for, in exchange for one.
It’s been reported by ESPN that the Hawks are listening to offers for Thabo Sefolosha and Kyle Korver, both of which will be free agents after the season. Trade them, and perhaps a draft pick, instead of Millsap, for somebody like Rudy Gay, Danilo Gallinari, Maurice Harkless, or even Wilson Chandler.
Each and every one of those guys are versatile, can shoot well from three, and would increase the Hawks chances of taking down the Cavaliers in the playoffs. As long as LeBron James is in the Eastern Conference, Atlanta will have trouble getting to the finals. But even as currently constructed, the Hawks would be a more capable rival to the Cavs in the playoffs than the Raptors.