Remember when the Atlanta Hawks were terrible? There was a time, and not long ago, when that was the case.
Today, though, the Hawks are showing promise, togetherness and some genuine confidence under first-year coach Lloyd Pierce.
Following Saturday's 111-108 home victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Hawks have won five of six. Yes, the Hawks.
"We're a young team with a new coaching staff,” Hawks power forward John Collins told reporters. “It's all about getting together as a group and figuring it out. I think we have been.”
The Hawks won just six of their first 29 games. They're now 11-24. They're just six games out of the playoff race. That may sound like a lot, but in the Eastern Conference, that ground can be made up quickly.
It's true that a large segment of the fan base may prefer that the Hawks just be bad and play the draft lottery. But with the likes of Collins, rookie point guard Trae Young and rookie shooting guard Kevin Huerter, they already have plenty of talented youth.
Plus, swingman Kent Bazemore has been drawing trade interest (especially from the New Orleans Pelicans and Houston Rockets). Eventually, the Hawks could make a deal and bring in more picks or players to help build for the future.
Pierce deserves credit here, as pointed out in a column by Chris Vilvamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He inserted Huerter in the starting lineup in place of Bazemore, and the Hawks took off, winning half of their 16 games since.
Bazemore again moved into the starting lineup in place of Taurean Prince, who's missed the previous 11 games with an ankle injury. (Bazemore suffered an ankle injury of his own Saturday.)
Also deserving some credit has been the moves made by general manager Travis Schlenk, now in his second season with the franchise. He came over after serving as assistant GM with the Golden State Warriors, who built their modern-day dynasty through the draft and shrewd moves in free agency.
Schlenk looks to be doing the same in Atlanta.
So yes, there is still a long way to go when it comes to the Hawks. But suddenly, they're not so terrible, and for the first time in quite a while, they are offering glimpses of hope.