The Hawks went 17-0 in January, an incredible feat.
Atlanta is a deep and balanced team. Jeff Teague, Paul Millsap and Al Horford are All-Stars but not superstars. Kyle Korver isn’t far behind. DeMarre Carroll is an excellent role player.
The NBA, in its infinite wisdom, decided those five players were better than any individual Eastern Conference player in January. Or something like that.
The Atlanta Hawks’ starting five and the Houston Rockets’ James Harden were today named the Kia NBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Month, respectively, for games played in January.
The Hawks finished the best calendar month in NBA history with a 17-0 record, outscoring opponents by an average of 11.9 points and showing the offensive balance that has defined their surge to the top of the East. All five Atlanta starters averaged double figures in scoring, ranging from 12.3 points to 18.3 points. This marks the first time in league history that a team has gone undefeated in a month with at least 10 victories and had all five starters average double digits but none at 20-plus points. Paul Millsap (18.3 ppg in January), Al Horford (17.1 ppg), Jeff Teague (16.6 ppg) and Kyle Korver (13.4 ppg) all started each of the 16 games they appeared in for the month, and DeMarre Carroll (12.3 ppg) started all 14 of his games. Millsap paced the Hawks in rebounding (8.0 rpg), Teague led them in assists (8.5 apg) and steals (1.81 spg), Horford ranked first in blocks (1.38 bpg) and Korver was the team leader in three-point percentage (56.7).
Other nominees for Kia NBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Month were Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving, Detroit’s Greg Monroe
I hate this. That’s not what the award is, and it’s a cheap way to avoid making a decision. Someone – some ONE – had the Eastern Conference’s best month and deserved the honor.
Irving or Monroe (or LeBron James, who did more in just 10 games than many players do when fully healthy) were robbed. For that matter, maybe Horford or Millsap were.
It’s relatively insignificant basketball-wise to pick the best player for each month, but it’s an easy way for the NBA to generate publicity and sell a sponsorship. So, in that sense, it’s hard to get too outraged over a pointless award.
But if the NBA is going to have the award, have it. Pick a player.
The Hawks’ team-wide success is rewarded in the standings. That’s enough.
This an affront to the integrity of the Eastern Conference Players of the Month, which is just a ludicrous thing for me to type. But the fact that I’m even covering this award – one we typically ignore at PBT – shows the NBA got it right.