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Season Preview: Atlanta Hawks

September 14, 2012
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Bye bye Joe, hello Flow…..as in offense.

In: Lou Williams, Devin Harris, Anthony Morrow, Kyle Korver, Damion James, DeShawn Stevenson, Johan Petro…rookies John Jenkins, Mike Scott.

Out: Joe Johnson (and his max contract-BKN), Marvin Williams (UTA), Kirk Hinrich (CHI), Jannero Pargo (WAS), Willie Green (LAC), Tracy McGrady (China), Vladimir Radmanovic (CHI), Jason Collins (BOS), Donald Sloan, Jerry Stackhouse (BKN), Erick Dampier.

Lineup:

PG Jeff Teague                 Devin Harris

SG Lou Williams              Kyle Korver, John Jenkins

SF Anthony Morrow        Damion James, DeShawn Stevenson

PF Josh Smith                   Ivan Johnson, Mike Scott

C Al Horford                      Zaza Pachulia, Johan Petro

Offseason Recap: It didn’t take long for new General Manager Danny Ferry to leave his mark on this team. In trading Joe Johnson (and his albatross contract, the largest signed in 2010) the memo was sent: the mediocrity is over. Every year the Hawks were penciled in for a playoff seed anywhere from 4-6, and every year they didn’t advance past the second round (last season it was a 1st round exit). It was time to take a step back in order to take 2 or 3 forward. With Johnson’s $ off the books, Ferry now has the flexibility to add more pieces to the roster…the first of which was Lou Williams, the fabulous 6th man from Philly. Another big part of this offseason was the mending of fences with star Josh Smith, who voiced his desires all of last season to being dealt. ‘Smooth’ has been in more trade rumors the past few years than Pau Gasol, coincidentally a guy he was even mentioned for at one point. Well, Josh is now publicly voicing his happiness at being a Hawk (his hometown team) and is excited about the team going forward. This is like getting a brand new player on the roster. Danny Ferry also added shooters Morrow, Korver, and rookie Jenkins (allegedly the prettiest jumper in the entire Draft). Lastly, trading Marvin Williams for Devin Harris was a talent upgrade but I’m not sure how the new PG fits in behind incumbant Jeff Teague.

Strengths: The inside core of this team (Horford, Smith, Pachulia) has been together for years. That is invaluable in today’s NBA which is filled with back-to-backs and 4-game, 5-night road trips. Larry Drew can rely on his ‘bigs’ while waiting for his new perimeter players to get up to speed.

Weaknesses: For year this team was an iso-team. Give it to Joe and get out of the way or swing it to Al in the post and then clear out…even when Josh had the ball guys would instinctively run away (leading to his infamous perimeter shots). Last season, Larry Drew tried to implement more motion on offense, but when the season dragged into April and the playoffs started, it went back to iso-ball…something that played right into Boston’s hands in the playoffs. This team needs more continuity on offense, which will take time with all the new pieces on the perimeter. Training camp will be interesting, and invaluable.

Prediction: I’m not sure how coach Drew will set his lineup. The PG, PF, & C spots appear to be set, but what about the SG & SF? Lou Williams has established himself as a dynamite 6th Man combo guard, but I think this team needs his scoring in the starting lineup. With Marvin leaving town, my guess is that Larry will slide Anthony Morrow down to the SF spot. The team has 4 shooting guards as it is.

This year will be a step back for the Atlanta Hawks. They’ll likely finish second in the division behind Miami (thanks to Dwight leaving Orlando) but still battle for one of the final spots in the playoffs…..but it’ll be worth it. One day, when this team contends for a championship, they’ll look back at the summer of 2012 and say that’s when we finally stopped the mediocrity. If you’re not moving forward in the NBA than you’re moving backwards…..now the Hawks are free to soar one day.

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4 Responses to Season Preview: Atlanta Hawks

  1. Peter B on September 16, 2012 at 9:00 pm

    Big Al’s shoulder injury isn’t mentioned enough. He missed two months last year. Horford is the face of the franchise now.

  2. Jeff Schultz on September 17, 2012 at 5:24 pm

    My guess is that Teague and Harris both start. Obviously Josh-Al, too. The fifth starter would be Korver or Williams maybe. Just guessing.

  3. Ramesh Donthamsetty on September 22, 2012 at 7:29 am

    Coaching will be critical for this team, and Larry Drew will have the largest challenge that he’s ever had in his professional career. The team has several lineups they could play, which could be very interesting, but they could lack size if they play too much small ball and only three-point shooters.

    I do like the additions, but I’d like to see a true starting center to enable Al to move to PF or a glue guy at SF like a Shawn Marion type to anchor the defense. Perhaps summer ’13 will be better.

    Finally, Larry Drew will have to manage his team’s personalities, particularly young Jeff Teague. Teague is a good guy, but blossomed last yr b/c he got minutes. It’s hard for him to be efficient, being so young, so I would imagine it hard to split minutes w/ Harris. Lou Williams / Anthony Morrow / Jenkins will also be tough for minutes. Obviously, Jenkins is the most likely to suffer, as a rook.

    I think this team has major upside, but a few too many small guards and still no true center to start or back-up pachulia.

    Hawks fan since 1982

    • Martin Knezevic on September 22, 2012 at 1:47 pm

      Ramesh, GREAT point of the need for a starting caliber center. I was on record last year that he team should’ve signed a starting C and moved Horford to the PF. Especially considering that Josh Smith wanted to leave town back then. But now, with a happy ‘Smooth’, I say the team stays As Is inside. I think more minutes for Ivan Johnson will do wonders. There’s definitely a void at the SF. Drew has some tough decisions to make. I guess he’ll start Lou at SG and Morrow at SF. Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal Constitution told me the other day he’s guessing Korver starts with Harris and Teague together. I fear that the wing lineup is going to get juggled all season, which lends to inconsistent play…Consistency is the key to making the postseason. Thanks for reading, Ramesh. Tell me, do you think Devis Harris can beat out Teague at PG?
      -Knez

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