Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Atlanta Hawks 2007-2008 Season Preview

I got a part to play, we going hard these days, f*ck the harder way, we doing it the harder way.-Talib Kweli (Going Hard)

The Atlanta Hawks have been doing it the harder way for far too long! It can’t be that difficult to field a competitive team, it just can’t. The front office is dubious at best; therefore the team is an enigma. They’re one of the only teams that can give up 2 first round picks and a player in the process of overpaying a free agent by about $15 million. Joe Johnson was a very good player in Phoenix, but the signing hasn’t done much good for the Hawks thus far. For instance, the owners who can’t seem to agree on anything are still at war with each other over this deal. It’s not that Belkin didn’t want Joe; it’s just that he thought they were giving up way too much to get a player that Phoenix wasn’t going to resign anyway. Two first round picks and Boris Diaw did seem like a bit much at the time, but the team needed to do something to at least create the illusion that they’re trying to win. Could another GM have pulled this deal off for less? Hell yeah, but we’re dealing with Billy Knight, one of the most smug individuals you’ll ever come across. He literally thinks he’s smarter than EVEYRONE! Hell, he’s still wearing a nappy ass afro/flat top. I don’t even know how you can pull this hairstyle off, but he’s been doing it for years. Why the hell would anyone trust him to make multi-million dollar personnel decisions when he’s still living somewhere between the years 1973-1993? Its mind boggling I tell ya.

For years this team REFUSED to address the point guard situation/overall talent of the roster. The draft picks they made in the 2 years prior to this draft made absolutely no sense. Marvin Williams was touted as the best player in the 2005 draft. Yep, he was supposed to be better than Chris Paul (the eventual Rookie of the Year) and Deron Williams (has a great John Stockton impersonation). Never mind the fact that the Hawks desperately needed a point guard and already had a plethora of guys on the roster between 6-7 and 6-9. Billy would eventually address that point guard situation by signing Speedy Claxton. I won’t go into detail, but they overpaid him by about $25 million. Anyway, Marvin was supposed to be the best available player and that’s who you’re supposed to draft. At least that’s what Billy kept telling us. Today its not looking like Marvin fits that description, but you never know. It’s too early to close the book on him because we honestly don’t know what he’s capable of. He could be the next great forward or he could be a serviceable bench player. Hopefully going into year 3 he’ll be healthy long enough for us to get an idea of what his ceiling is.

The 2005 draft made even less sense than the 2004 draft because THIS was the draft when Billy Knight decided to set aside his unlimited basketball knowledge and actually draft a player based upon need. Are you f*cking kidding me? THIS is the draft you decide to get a player you need! This draft class was kind of weak, so it was clear that Brandon Roy was the pick of the litter. Yeah he’s kind of a “tweener”, but he was good at what he did. With the 5th pick, Billy Knight in all of his genius decided to draft Shelden Williams. a.k.a. “The Landlord”. Now it’s one thing to be a defensive stopper in college at 6-9, but only the best of the best can pull that off in the NBA at such a height. Shelden is not that player. Billy told us he was going to shut down that lay-up drill lane the Hawks had been rolling with for the past few years. He didn’t do such a good job. Players were all but being escorted down the lane by secret service agents against the Hawks during most games. Only Billy Knight could talk himself into believing that a player who is a replica of half of the roster he already had was going to come in and shut down the lane. Maybe he’ll be better this year. He was a beast in the Summer League and we all know that means…………absolutely nothing.

We haven’t even discussed poor Mike Woodson. I hate to drag him into this because he walked into a no win situation, but his record is awful! He won 13 games in his first season, 26 games in his second season and 30 games last season. I want to reiterate that the roster he inherited was f*cked up, but something’s gotta give. Either he or the owners have to blink if the Hawks don’t make the playoffs this season. Not because they have so much talent on the roster that there’s no reason they shouldn’t make the playoffs, but because he’s been there 3 seasons and he doesn’t even have one full season of victories to his credit. I honestly don’t understand how someone who’s only won 69 games in a total of 3 years can still be gainfully employed by an NBA team. I don’t care how flawed the roster is; good coaches put their players in position to be successful. Whether or not they take them up on that offer is another story for another day. I’ve been watching this Mike Woodson offense for 3 years and I still have no idea what the hell they’re trying to accomplish. They’re a small team full of finishers so they should be playing a wee bit faster than they have been. He’s insisted on running this half court offense despite the fact that they don’t have the personnel to pull it off. It’s not fair to the fans or Joe when he has to run the pick and roll with someone like Lorenzon Wright or Shelden Williams. That’s just wrong on so many levels. Josh Smith is good around the basket, but unfortunately he likes to shoot three’s. Heaven help them if he makes a three pointer early in the game because he won’t go near the basket again unless it’s on a fast break. There are too many reports during the year about the tumultuous relationship between Josh and Woody and even Salim and Woody. I know you can’t let the prisoners run the asylum, but I’m sure if you poll the fans about who they’re coming to Philips Arena to see, they won’t say Mike Woodson. They’ll probably say LeBron if they’re playing Cleveland, or Kobe if they’re playing the Lakers and so forth and so on…. The point is they won’t say Woody. If it comes down to a decision between Woody or Josh, we can only hope Billy will do the right thing and choose Josh. To most of us this is a no brainer, but they’ve yet to give Josh a contract extension and he’s in the final year of his deal. The fact that they’re even willing to let him hit the market worries me because they’re cheap as hell. They don’t think he’s worth $70 million so if a team offers him more than that they probably won’t match it. If Josh leaves that will give Woody a whole new list of problems and trust me he doesn’t need anything else to worry about. I’d love to think if there isn’t significant improvement in the team they’ll look for another coach, but Woody is Billy’s boy, so he might get an extension no matter what the team does.

New Year, new record, time to do bigger sh*t.-Talib Kweli (Put it in the air)

It’s a new year so that means there are new expectations of this team. They drafted Al Horford and Acie LawIV, and both have a winning mentality. Horford is a back to back NCAA champion while Law is a stone cold killer in late game situations. The consensus leading up to the draft was that Horford was the most NBA ready. The Hawks desperately need that to be true. They’ve been thin in the frontcourt for years. Any help he can provide is greatly appreciated. Law is not looked at as a typical pass first point guard, but if he can manage the game they’ll take it. The team is still literally young in a lot of areas, but some of these younguns have been in the league for several years. They might as well be grizzled vets as far as the NBA is concerned. They can’t use that “youngest team in the league” excuse anymore. That’s so five minutes ago. This is a make or break season for the Hawks as currently constructed. The draft can’t save them next year because Phoenix gets their first round pick whether its number 1 or number 20. This year we should see some kind of improvement in this team. The city of Atlanta is not going to continue to support this team if they insist on putting an inferio…wait; the city doesn’t support this team right now. I know everyone thinks you’re supposed to support your team no matter what, but I think the people in Atlanta have the right idea. Why should they spend their hard earned money to come to Philips and watch a losing team? It makes no sense. Anyway, the East is still relatively weak and I expect the Hawks to be right in the thick of the playoff hunt come March. That shouldn’t be too hard to accomplish considering damn near everyone in the East is normally right in the thick of the playoff hunt in March. Are they 10-12 wins better than last season? Probably not, but I certainly hope so.


white hot eboy said...

I still think that next season, the Hawks and Bobcats will make so real noise and fight for a playoff spot. This year and the divisionitself is just a little too much for the young guys to overcome. And that's because of the Heat's move for Tricky Ricky. It at least assures's the Heat of not missing the 8 team cut and Orlando and the Wiz are right there too. At least they will compete with everyone this season. Next year, though, will be different.

CoCo said...

I like that "Tricky Ricky" move for the Heat. He has a little of that Stephen Jackson craziness about him and I really, really believe most teams would benefit from a player like that. Plus, they got rid of appparently chubby ass Walker. Good thing there's always a fool like Kevin McHale around to take on some past his prime player's massive contract!