January was a month of firsts for the Atlanta Hawks.
Not only were they the first team in league history to go 17-0 over the course of a month, but the NBA announced Wednesday evening that Mike Budenholzer's entire starting five earned Eastern Conference Player of the Month honors:
And as Bleacher Report's Adam Fromal noted, no starting five had ever earned that designation before:
During their perfect start to the new year, the Hawks lineup consisting of Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver, DeMarre Carroll, Paul Millsap and Al Horford posted an obscene net rating of plus-19.3 points per 100 possessions over the course of 207 minutes, according to NBA.com.
But the impressive feats didn't stop there, according to NBA.com's stats database:
Additionally, Teague, Millsap and Horford were all selected as Eastern Conference All-Star reserves during the first month of 2015. Korver's still holding his breath in hopes of nabbing a replacement gig should Dwyane Wade's hamstring injury prevent him from participating in the midseason showcase.
Sharing the ball at a league-best rate while ranking as a top-six team in both offensive and defensive efficiency, the Hawks have come to be the epitome of unselfishness.
"Give me four or five really good players over one superstar. I will take that any day,” Millsap said, according to The Washington Post's Michael Lee. "It gives you a lot of comfort. When things aren’t going right and you are having one of those 3-for-10 or 1-for-7 nights, you know somebody else will pick up the slack. That is what a full team does."
To Millsap's point, none of the Hawks starters put together a mind-boggling month from a statistical standpoint. But as a unit, the results were balanced and brilliant:
|A January to Remember|
In other hardware-related news, James Harden captured Western Conference Player of the Month honors after averaging 25.8 points, 6.7 assists and 4.7 rebounds while shooting 47.6 percent from the field and 42.6 percent from three.
Elsewhere, Andrew Wiggins and Elfrid Payton took home Western and Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month trophies, respectively. Wiggins—who's now the clear-cut Rookie of the Year front-runner—averaged 19.8 points on 47.1 percent shooting in January after averaging a shade under 15 points on 40.9 percent shooting in December.
Following a 105-96 win over the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night, Atlanta now sits eight games up on the second-place Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference. And at this point, it feels like a matter of when—not if—the Hawks will capture home-court advantage throughout the postseason.
However, a championship litmus test awaits Friday evening when the East-leading Hawks host the Western Conference-leading Golden State Warriors in the season's most prominent showdown to date.