Basketball

Nate McMillan Hired as Head Coach of Atlanta Hawks

Nate McMillan during game five of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals Photograph Aaron Gash/AP

The Atlanta Hawks announced Thursday that Nate McMillan will be the team’s permanent head coach after serving as the interim coach this past season. McMillan was named the interim coach after the firing of Lloyd Pierce as the team started 14-20 on the season. However, as the interim coach, he had a record of 27-11. As a result of the late-season success, the Hawks won the Southeast Division title. In addition, the Atlanta Hawks advanced to the Conference Finals where they were eliminated by the Bucks.

Atlanta Hawks general manager and president of basketball operations Travis Schlenk spoke about McMillan’s performance as the interim coach made him the ideal fit,

“We were able to see how gifted a tactician, motivator and leader he is first-hand and the high level of respect and trust he earned from our players made securing him as our head coach our top priority.”

Travis Schlenk Atlanta Hawks general manager and president of basketball operations

The Biggest Challenges and Benefits For Nate McMillan

Of all the new head coaches in the NBA for the 2020-2021 season, Nate McMillan will have the toughest job. Though he has been in the head coaching chair since the beginning of March, he inherits a team with more pressure. At the beginning of March, the chance of the Hawks making the playoffs was quite slim. Not only did the Hawks make the playoffs but made it to the conference finals.

The next big challenge for McMillan is to build upon the postseason experience of the roster. The Hawks have a developing roster of youth and veteran players and the challenge of getting to the next level. The division the Hawks are in the second weakest division in the conference based on the records of last season. So, with the talent the Hawks have getting into the playoffs should be no problem. However, with the draft and free agency approaching the Hawks should bolster their way into a yearly contender.

The main benefit that McMillan is getting with the Atlanta job is the experience he has with the players. Think about it for a moment most head coaches inherit a team they have only seen on film. McMillan has been on the staff in Atlanta for this past season but he has had time to become familiar with the organization.

The other benefit for McMillan is this will be his third head coaching job. He has served as the head coach of the relocated Seattle SuperSonics, Portland Trail Blazers, Indiana Pacers and the Hawks. This benefit of experience will help him immensely as he takes on the Hawks job as over two decades of experience he will build an excellent staff for the Hawks.

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