On today's episode, Michael and Rohan take a look back at Atlanta's magical season and wonder if they need to consolidate some of their young pieces in order to make a stronger Finals run in the future. They also ... PREVIEW THE FINALS by asking each other three critical questions about the Bucks-Suns series that nobody saw coming.
Michael Pina: Would you be surprised if the Hawks did not make the finals before 2025?
Rohan Nadkarni: No, I wouldn't; let's get into it. I'm happy for the city of Atlanta, O.K.? I love the TV show Atlanta, I love the Migos, shout-out to my guy, OJ da Juiceman. On CNN, Omar, you're killing it. Listen, teams get close to making the Finals, and it's not a guarantee that you're going to make it that close again, O.K.? And on top of that, I just don't know how much stock I'm putting into the playoff runs that teams made this season. Now, that's not to say I think that this is a fluke or whoever wins the title is undeserving, etc. I just think this season is a massive outlier in terms of what happened in the NBA.
Let's talk about the Hawks' first-round playoff opponent, the Knicks. If the Knicks didn't have nine months off, between seasons, would they have been in the position they were in this year? To me, there are just so many variables to say that this is the exact version we're going to get of the Hawks moving forward. And then to Zack's point, are they going to be able to keep the team together? I mean, it starts this summer with, are you going to give John Collins a max extension? Now, John Collins was incredible during the playoffs. The calculus just changes when someone is making that much money because it becomes more difficult to build your team, unless you have owners like the Golden State Warriors, who say, we don't care, pay everyone what they're worth, and we'll dip millions and hundreds of millions into the luxury tax. I don't think that's going to happen in Atlanta. What's going to happen when you have to pay (like Zack mentions) De'Andre Hunter, Cam Reddish, Trae Young, John Collins, Clint Capela all at once. Can you even? So the idea to me that they're guaranteed to make a Finals run in the next few years, I don't know. I don't know.
MP: Can I jump in real quick, Rohan?
Speaker 3: Please.
MP: I just wrote about this for this site. Hopefully, it gets published because a lot of it was just me rambling, and I don't know if there was a coherent point—shout out to our editors. But the way I look at the NBA right now, this is post-LeBron. And this isn't to say that LeBron is done or anything like that, but he is no longer the preeminent, unbeatable one-man juggernaut. He's going to be 37 years old next year. So we're post-LeBron in the same way that we once were post-Jordan, meaning that there is a throne that is empty. We are post–the Golden State Warriors dynasty now by two years. And that dynasty cannot be replicated by this CBA that changed in 2017 as a response to Kevin Durant signing with the Golden State Warriors. So the way I kind of look at it, I agree with you, Rohan, in the sense that there are very few teams where I would say, I would be surprised. Because I think that the league ... I don't want to say it's a total crapshoot, I don't want to say that we're in total parity like the NFL or anything like that, or Major League Baseball, because I don't think we are there. But I do think that we are in an era of unpredictability that is unlike anything that we've seen before in either of our lifetimes and maybe in NBA history. And I say that acknowledging how weird this season was for a million different reasons. You got the condensed season, you got the shortened offseason, you've got the mental health toll, you got the physical strain. You've got just everything that happened this year. You've got COVID, you've got testing. We could go on and on and on and on. But I think that we are in an age of unpredictability. And I think that a team like the Hawks can get to the Finals. I'm not saying that I expect them to, if that makes any sense.