Going into the 2013-14 NBA season, the Atlanta Hawks look poised to remain exactly where they've spent the last few years: smack-dab in the middle of the Eastern Conference, doomed to make the playoffs before getting eliminated by one of the truly elite teams.
The phrase "upper-level mediocrity" just continues to apply.
But this year, there's some more upside on the roster.
With a bunch of new faces replacing Josh Smith, Devin Harris, Zaza Pachulia, Ivan Johnson and all the other departed members of 2012-13's Hawks, this team could vault up even higher than normal in the standings. Especially if some of the young players—John Jenkins, Dennis Schröder, Mike Scott, Pero Antic, etc.—break out in a big way.
Things are pretty much decided at the top of the player power rankings, but everyone else is jockeying for position once we drop out of the top five. As a result, it's an order that will likely change throughout the year.
Al Horford starts the year off in the No. 1 spot (sorry, no spoiler alert needed there), but do you think he'll finish the 2013-14 campaign as the front-runner? We should be about 99 percent sure that he does, but it would be great news for the Hawks if Paul Millsap, Jeff Teague or even someone like Schröder could make it a legitimate competition.