Nate McMillan played a big part in the Hawks’ midseason turnaround, and it seems as if he’ll be rewarded for his efforts.
According to Stadium’s Shams Charania, there is “strong momentum” for McMillan to become the team’s permanent head coach following his stretch as interim coach.
“There haven’t been any negotiations as of yet. That’s likely to take place after the season. But the plan is to retain Nate McMillan as the head coach,” Charania said.
McMillan changed the team’s direction after taking over for Lloyd Pierce on March 1. He coached them to a 27-11 record in the final 38 games after they started the season 14-20 under Pierce. Atlanta’s 41-31 overall record earned it the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
The turnaround was due in large part to McMillan’s ability to improve the offense and raise point guard Trae Young’s game. Per FiveThirtyEight, Young’s net rating and overall offensive rating increased by almost six points each under McMillan.
|Trae Young||With Pierce||With McMillan|
McMillan also had the Hawks playing much better in the fourth quarter. They were 20-2 under him when entering the fourth with a lead. Under Pierce, Atlanta was 12-7 when leading after three.
The former SuperSonics, Trail Blazers and Pacers coach boasts a career 688-599 regular-season record and eight seasons of 45 or more wins, but he has not experienced much success in the postseason. His previous teams made eight first-round exits in nine playoff appearances.
We’ll soon see if McMillan can exorcise his playoff demons in this year’s first round against the Knicks, but win or lose, he seems like the right man to lead the Hawks. And Atlanta’s brain trust seems to realize that.