If you want up and coming, stunning performances on any given night, then go watch the Atlanta Hawks take flight. They are flying high and loose in hot'lanta these days, and are led by a couple of emerging stars in Jeff Teague and Paul Milsap.
What will it take for this team to get over the treeline and soar through some playoff series then?
Coming off a nail-bitter, where they shocked just about everyone in the league by taking the number 1 seed Indiana Pacers to 7 games and almost beating them, the Hawks are ready to elevate to the next level. Many people believe they are just one or two pieces away from being a big time contender, and they have certainly made things more interesting for the Atlanta fans.
Atlanta fought through the loss of All-Star Al Horford to a torn pectoral muscle for all but 29 games this season and held on to the eighth seed. According to Sam Amico from Fox Sports, the talented play by the pair of young guns has garnered a lot of attention from free agents who would like to get in while the gettin' is good.
And if there is a position where the Hawks would like to see improvement, it's at the Small Forward position. According to Basketball Insider, that upgrade may come in the form of Luol Deng from Cleveland. There is no doubt he would be a nice addition to the Hawks, because DeMarre Carroll isn't quite the same caliber player as the other starters, and Deng would add strong defense. Deng averaged 16.0 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.9 assists per game, and a steal per game.
Another sensible free agent pick-up may be Greg Monroe from the Pistons. Marc Stein points out that Atlanta General Manager Danny Ferry has some ties with Monroe's agent, so Monroe, who is a free agent this year, and probably wants to escape the dysfunctional Pistons, could be in talks with the Hawks soon. Monroe nearly averaged a triple double last year, even on a team that never really came together as a solid unit.
Both Deng and Monroe show up and play every night, even on jacked-up teams, and they would fit in nicely with the solid group of players in Atlanta.
First year coach Mike Budenholzer did a great job dealing with the loss of Horford, and helping the Hawks reach the playoffs for the seventh straight year, a streak second only to the San Antonio Spurs.
One big difference between the two team's runs is that the Spurs have won some championships in that time, but the Hawks have never made it out of the second round of the playoffs.
Coach Bud would obviously like to change that, and he has to think they are close after the unlikely playoff run this year.