Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Atlanta Hawks

Atlanta Hawks Season preview

Projected Starting line-up

G Speedy Claxton
G Joe Johnson
F Josh Smith
F Marvin Williams
C Zaza Pachulia

Acie Law
Josh Childress
Tyronn Lue
Al Horford
Sheldon Williams

Last year
I don't think going into last season, the Atlanta Hawks were picked as the team that would be able to break the record of longest run of not winning an NBA title with 48 years. And observers were correct, the streak is now 49. After last season, the Hawks also now have the longest tenure of most consecutive seasons without a playoff appearance at 8 years in a row. Throw in a 4th year in a row of 50 plus loss seasons, and we are looking at one struggling franchise. Atlanta has ownership issues and the reality is that when ownership is unstable, you can forget any type of major moves from that team. Joe Johnson, who is a damn fine player, is not going to win a championship solo and I question if he is capable of being the main guy on a championship team even with the support. Outside of Johnson though, Atlanta is a very young team that shows no urge to change that about them. How many times do I have to say that potential is nice, but a team full of it is going nowhere anytime soon. There needs to be a balance to the team for it to do any type of damage. So, even though the team had a nice 4-1 start to the season, a 2-14 run over December /January ended any type of tease that Atlanta gave the fans early in the season. And I don't want to jump on the "Speedy Claxton sucks" bandwagon, but when he got good money to fill the void that was point guard position for Atlanta, then played in 42 games, shot 33% for the field with a sad 21% from the 3 point line. Add in a even sadder 55% FT percentage what you will get is a lot more expensive PG void. Salt to the wound is watching Chris Paul and Deron Williams tearing up the league, both PG selected after Atlanta selected Marvin Williams. Again, I hate to be negative, but imagine Deron Williams/Joe Johnson/Josh Smith on the court together. One positive for Atlanta this past season was Josh Smith showing off some incredable athletic skills, although getting into it with Coach Woodson about playing time is not something that should become a habit. Losing all the time can be stressful and heartbreaking so I can give him a pass for an occasional outburst.

Drafted Al Horford
Drafted Acie Law

Remember that joke about how the Hawks were going to get Amare Stoudemire as part of some 3 team trade? Here is a team that has lost 50 plus games 4 seasons in a row, and all they do in the off-season was sign the two draft picks they had. At least they didn't screw it up completely, and did get a good PG in Acie Law. But a young team just got younger. This ownership issue the team has better clear it self soon, cause the lack of movement is going to lead to the lack of change in the teams record.

I mean, what else can be said. It's the same team that won 30, except with 2 more rookies. And even if those rookies have great rookie seasons, they are still rookies. Speedy Claxton will hopefully be recovered and ready to go this year. That might help as there is no doubt the big issue on the team is the PG position. If Speedy can play and contribute, then Atlanta might be able to get a few more games, but again I look at the lack of activity in the off-season and compare it to the other teams in the east that has improved. Atlanta has lost 50 games 4 seasons in a row in the weak east. What are they going to do with the same team + two rookies in a much stronger eastern conference? Even if Speedy can go, i wouldn't expect much from these guys. That being said, the pieces are there for some surprises as the young guys they got do have talent. They just remind me of a college basketball team trying to play in the NBA.

Things to watch for
1) Are the pieces there? - With drafting of a new Point Guard and a new Center/Power forward, does this team now have every position covered?
2) Joe Johnson part 2 - Last year was a break out year for Johnson, can he keep it up?
3) Josh Smith part 2 - Same for Smith, add in the attitude watch.

Unlike ESPN, I can't predict playoffs for this team. They started strong last season, but inexperience kept them out of the playoffs. They needed a new point guard and a new center which they got, but do those two players add to the experience factor?
2 more years for this group of players.

Between 29 and 33 wins this season with a 11th place finish in the East

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