Where Do the Atlanta Hawks Rank in B/R's All-Time Franchise Rankings?

Atlanta has been a consistent winning team for most of their existence
Feb 4, 1988; Seattle, WA, USA: FILE PHOTO; Atlanta Hawks forward Dominique Wilkins (21) prior to the game against the Seattle Supersonics at the Center Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports
Feb 4, 1988; Seattle, WA, USA: FILE PHOTO; Atlanta Hawks forward Dominique Wilkins (21) prior to the game against the Seattle Supersonics at the Center Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports / USA TODAY Sports
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With Boston winning their 18th Championship this week, there has been plenty of debate about who the. best franchise in NBA history is. Is it the Lakers or the Celtics? While that debate does not involve the Hawks, it brings up an interesting discussion about where exactly Atlanta would place amongst all of the other franchises in NBA History.

While the Hawks have not won a title while in Atlanta, they have been a pretty consistent winner. A fun exercise by Bleacher Report's Andy Bailey ranked all of the franchises historically and Atlanta came in at No. 20:

Top Five Players by Win Shares: Bob Pettit, Dominique Wilkins, Cliff Hagan, Lou Hudson and Al Horford

Peak Season: 2014-15 (60 wins, lost in the Conference Finals)

NBA Championships: 1

"Like Sacramento, the Atlanta Hawks have a title from the 1950s and while representing a different city in their history. In 1958, when they were the St. Louis Hawks, Bob Pettit led them to the championship in a campaign that included the Nationals' Dolph Schayes and the Celtics' Bill Russell.

Since they came to Atlanta for the 1968-69 season, the Hawks haven't been quite as successful, but they're still middle of the pack in winning percentage at 2,229-2,290.

They had some strong teams with Dominique Wilkins that ran into powerhouse versions of the Celtics. The 60-win squad with Al Horford, Paul Millsap and Kyle Korver ran into LeBron James.

Yes, there were some playoff droughts here and there, but the Hawks have generally been competitive, even if they were never truly dangerous title threats (kind of like the current version of the team)."

Here was the formula for how he came up with his rankings:

"Here, just to get a baseline ranking, we took all 30 active teams and sorted them by the average of their ranks in:

Championships won
Winning percentage
Simple Rating System (SRS is a combination of point differential and strength of schedule)
Playoff wins
Playoff winning percentage
We gave a little extra credit to that first category. Consider us among the camp that considers that the most important consideration.

That alone didn't give us the final order, though. As is the case with our weekly power rankings, there's a dash of subjectivity here. And in the case of this exercise, that subjectivity is influenced by all-time individual talents in the franchise's history books and recent organizational stability (or instability).

One other note is that some of the histories are a little confusing based on location or team name changes, as well as league changes. For example, the Philadelphia 76ers get credit for a Syracuse Nationals championship from the 1950s. Ditto for the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Seattle SuperSonics' championship in 1979. As for league changes, teams such as the Indiana Pacers don't credit for the ABA years. This is strictly about NBA performance."

Ranking the franchises that have never won a title is a tough task and you could rank a lot of them interchangeably, but I think No. 20 is a fair ranking. While I think the 2014-2015 team was better, you could make a case that the 2020-2021 season might have been the peak for the Hawks. That team also made the conference finals, but they actually won two games instead of getting swept. You could also make the argument that if Trae Young had not hurt his ankle, they could have beaten Milwaukee and then would have gotten to play the Suns in the NBA Finals.

If this franchise wants to move up in the future, there is really only one path to do so. Atlanta has been a consistent franchise when it comes to winning, but they have never been able to get to the top.

Jackson Caudell


Jackson Caudell covers the Atlanta Hawks and Georgia Tech Athletics for FanNation