San Antonio Style in Atlanta

Mike Budenholzer

With a lead of five games over the second place Washington Wizards, the Atlanta Hawks have found themselves in first place in the Eastern Conference. Owners of a 34-8 record and winners of their last thirteen games, the impressive streak comes as a result of the team’s consistent play and a return to fundamentals approach taken by head coach Mike Budenholzer. You won’t find any superstars on Budenholzer’s Hawks, the team’s leading scorer Forward Paul Millsap averaging an inconspicuous 16.9 Points per Game. Budenholzer, who spent years in San Antonio as the Spurs’ assistant coach from 1996-2013, seems to have taken a page from the Spurs’ playbook to revamp the Hawks, grounding the team’s success in the periodic resting of starters and an unselfish style of play.

The Spurs, who boast a record of 27-16, find themselves occupying the seventh seed of the Western Conference.  The Spurs have found a great deal of success under head coach Gregg Popovich, making the playoffs every season since his arrival and winning the NBA Finals four times so far during his tenure.  Budenholzer shared in three of those Spurs’ championships prior to joining the Hawks in 2013.

The two clubs’ philosophies draw comparisons at a few points, beginning with the shared importance placed on resting the starters of both teams.  This technique was carried over by Budenholzer from his days in San Antonio, where the tactic is commonplace.  Both teams have found success in the absence of a superstar comparable to the likes of, say, Lebron or Kobe, each player so productive that their respective first names have become household.  The Hawks’ second-leading scorer is Guard Jeff Teague, averaging 17.2 PPG.  Forward Kawhi Leonard has lead the way for the Spurs in PPG this season with a 15.4 average.

While neither team seems to boast many traditional superstars, this is not to say that the two rosters are without talent worth adding to your FantasyDraft team.  Monday’s afternoon contests saw Hawks players Al Horford and Paul Millsap post 35.5 FPs and 32.75 FPs respectively, while Tuesday’s contests saw Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker of San Antonio record 48.25 FPs and 33.5 FPs respectively.  While these players may not consistently boast the type of productivity you may spend $20,000 of your salary cap on, they could certainly be effective in rounding out your rosters moving into the second half of the season.

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