For the first time since the days of Dominique Wilkins, the Atlanta Hawks are legitimate title contenders. While they may not be the favorite, the Hawks have shed the qualities that have held them back for years.
Believe it or not, the Atlanta Hawks are a well-balanced unit.
In the days of the Atlanta Big Three, the team had financial obligations that prevented them from building a legitimate force. In 2013, however, the team has shed their largest contract and begun to take the necessary steps towards properly building around Josh Smith and Al Horford.
Their acquisition of Kyle Korver was simply the icing on the cake.
Many NBA viewers and columnists believe that the greatest team is the one with the best individuals. The fact of the matter is, even the best individual performers cannot win a title on their own. The key to greatness is having players with one specific skill to fill every necessary role.
For instance, Kyle Korver has replaced Joe Johnson as the Hawks' primary three-point shooter. While Johnson is a respectable option from the perimeter, he was needed for much more than that one role. With the surplus of sharpshooters in the NBA, it was only rational to ease the burden and begin assigning roles to the fitting players, rather than forcing the wrong players into necessary roles.
Can the Atlanta Hawks contend in the East?
As we evaluate their unfinished roster, the Atlanta Hawks have made the intelligent acquisitions. Kyle Korver is clearly the sharpshooter, although he's not alone. Rookie John Jenkins is one of the best pure shooters to ever come out of the college ranks, while hometown hero Lou Williams is always a threat from distance.
As the defending champion Miami Heat displayed, you can never have too many perimeter scorers.
So what is it that makes the Hawks contenders? What will turn the franchise around after yet another year of caring more for the flash than the fundamental finish?
It's quite simple: Balance.
With good health, great coaching and a series of team-building acquisitions, the Hawks are finally building to win basketball games.
Not a spot on the SportsCenter Top 10.