Bogdan Bogdanovic says Hawks feel like an underdog early in the season: “People still don’t believe in us”


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Last offseason, the Atlanta Hawks made a number of win-now moves to get back into the playoffs for the first time since 2017. They more than paid off when the Hawks finished fifth in the Eastern Conference and ran a surprise run to the conference finale.

While losing in six games to eventual champions Milwaukee Bucks, the Hawks showed that they can keep up with the top teams in the east. But despite last season’s success, the Hawks still feel like they have a lot to prove and are heading into the new campaign with an underdog mentality.

“People still don’t believe in us and that’s normal,” Bogdan Bogdanovic said in a recent interview with The Athletic. “To prove the opposite to someone, you have to do it several times. You can’t do it just once, because once means nothing today. Whatever you do, you always have to stay at the top. You have to be consistently successful over many years. That creates respect in the league, because we’re not going to gain respect from other people in the league for one season. “

“It has to happen every year,” continued Bogdanovic. “We can’t just do it in one year and then get eliminated in the first round of the playoffs next season. We just have to get better no matter what.”

While the Hawks should be fighting for home advantage again in the first round of the playoffs, this is the right mindset for them. They have a lot of depth and Trae Young showed last season that he can get hot and carry a team to the playoffs, but they don’t have the same amount of high-profile talent as a team like the Brooklyn Nets or Milwaukee Bucks. Even the Philadelphia 76ers, despite last season’s results on paper, could be better than them, depending on what happens to a potential Ben Simmons deal.

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It will take team effort for the Hawks to get to another deep playoff run and they will have to maintain the underdog spirit they showed last season. There were several times in the playoffs that they could have won, but they kept fighting. They trailed the Sixers 18 in Game 4 and 26 in Game 5 and came back to win both games and eventually the series. Even in their last loss of the season to the Bucks, they showed great pride that this was going to be a game in the fourth quarter.

Missing just two games before the NBA final was an impressive feat, but as Bogdanovic noted, they have to do it all over again before they can comfortably sit in the top division of the East.

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