The other day, I was asked who I would pay to watch play on the Atlanta Hawks. The answer was no one. There is not one individual I would pay to see play on the Hawks roster. The fact that the Hawks do not have a single player I would pay to see is also the reason I would love to see them matchup with the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals.
In today’s NBA, which has become so dominated by and reliant on superstars, the Hawks offer a refreshing brand of team basketball. Rather than follow the common NBA blueprint of a superstar and his sidekick or a “big three,” the Hawks run out a squad that gets significant contributions from 5-7 guys on a nightly basis. They have six players averaging double figures in the postseason, and in their 12 playoff games they have had 6 different high scorers (Jeff Teague and Dennis Schroder shared the scoring lead in Game 3 of the conference semifinals versus Washington.) Seeing how far the Hawks can go truly relying on their entire team rather than 1 or 2 superstars is an intriguing storyline.
The Hawks are similar to the Detroit Pistons teams of the early 2000s. They have a top-10 to top-15 player at nearly every position, but don’t have a top-5 player at any position. Since 2000, every NBA champion has had at least one superstar (a few with multiple) except for the Pistons in 2004. The ’04 Pistons had some very good players, but none who would be considered a superstar or even top-3 at their respective positions. It would be interesting to see if the Hawks could join the Pistons as the only teams since the turn of the century to reach the pinnacle using that approach.
On the surface, the allure of seeing the Warriors in the Finals is obvious. They have one of the league’s best players in Stephen Curry. Between his incredibly pure stroke, subsequent ability to absolutely fill it up, his creativity and passing ability, he is an absolute joy to watch.
In addition to Curry, the Warriors trot out Klay Thompson, whose capacity to completely go off was put on full display when he dropped 37 in a single quarter in January. Andre Iguodala brings athleticism and defensive intensity. Harrison Barnes has grown and improved. And Draymond Green has begun to blossom, becoming a defensive stalwart while improving his offensive game and playing an integral role in the success of his teammates on the offensive end.
With the presence of Curry and Thompson, you would expect the Warriors to follow the contemporary blueprint of NBA success. While the majority of their offense runs through Curry, his ability to get to the basket and his exceptional passing skills keep the rest of the team fully involved as Golden State has 4 players averaging double figures in scoring this postseason. All of the Warriors pieces complement each other beautifully with Green pulling bigger players away from the basket, the Splash Brothers’ shooting keeping defenses honest, and Curry and Barnes penetrating to collapse defenses and create open shots for more-than-capable shooters on the perimeter.
The Warriors give you the best of both worlds, providing the star power with Curry and to a lesser extent, Thompson, while also not being completely reliant on those two players; playing an incredibly cohesive and balanced brand of basketball where all the parts fit together so perfectly. It is truly a thing of beauty.
A Golden State Warriors vs. Atlanta Hawks Finals would manage to showcase elite, superstar level talent without subjecting us to the perpetual isolation or two-man basketball that has become so prevalent in today’s NBA. It would be great to watch the Warriors in the Finals because of their skill and also because of their style. The Hawks would provide an excellent counterpoint; a team lacking superstar talent and succeeding strictly on the collective strength of their team. With two teams so similar and yet so different at the same time, this matchup would provide plenty of reasons to watch.
Josh Naso aka The Silver Fox has a love for all things sports that borders on disorder. Here, he aims to share his thoughts on and passion for those sports with you.