Who Are These Guys?!

Not that anyone would remember, but this was a line I used repeatedly during the beginning of the season, as the Hawks won their first six and lost their seventh to Boston in a rare, early season, epic, on a last-second Paul Pierce jumper.

But as we ponder the end of January, capped by a road loss to the Redd-less Bucks, a team we beat in Atlanta by 30 (THIRTY!!!!!) eight days prior, this is the question that once again comes to mind.

Easiest place to begin this discussion is in the numbers.

January ends with a whimper, as the Hawks finish the month 6-10.  To add insult to injury, 5 of those losses were to teams currently at .500 or worse.  So they go in to the new year at 21-10.  They enter January at 27-20.  Eight days after I posted “I don’t think the Hawks will hit 50-wins”, they lost four of their next five.

Discussions abound regarding the issue of depth, but there is no arguing that when one of their starters is out these Hawks are not the same team.   6-6 during Josh Smith’s November outage.  5-7 during the current absence of Al Horford.  Not to oversimplify, but these numbers seem to converge at the logical conclusion that the Hawks are a .500 team without either frontline starter.  And this issue does reinforce the concern that the Hawks lack either quality depth, or Woody’s willingness to leverage the improved depth (that most folks, pre-season, seemed to view as the best we’ve had in recent memory) that has been handed him.

With an intent to avoid repeating myself, or the thoughts of those who disagree, the end of January DOES hammer home some of the recent concerns, subjectified here and on Sekou’s blog:  Can the Hawks really compete, as a legitimate contender in the East, without upgrades to its current roster?  And what is any reasonable person to make of the combined conundrum that is Woody’s risky penchant for wearing out his starters, with the obvious results (.500-ish) when any of the starters are out?

Again, are the Hawks going to push, to make the most of this teams’ potential, via added depth or improved roster make up?  Or are they going to let this season play out, take credit for what will obviously be the best outcome in a decade, and point towards the uncertainty of future rosters, possibly missing a rare opportunity to compete for the Eastern Conference crown?

Who are these guys (and now the question is dual; who are the Hawks, and who are the ASG)?

I don’t know about you guys, but I can’t help but hope that the ASG pulls out all the stops, and takes a shot at greatness this year.  As Ray mentioned recently (here or on Sekou’s blog), the Bulls followed up a very promising season, a few years back, with a series of bad decisions.  Nothing, about the future, can be taken for granted.

Let us know what you think……..

42 comments Add your comment

doc

February 1st, 2009
11:15 pm

nice post emphasizing the slide and inconsistency. horford a factor absolutely, however it seems we have all our eggs in one basket; the starting five with little off the bench. it also means the starting five get in each others way when it comes to having the ball and scoring. i have long said the starters are not as important as the finishers who should be relatively rested for the final push. we have been on the other side of the push the last month.

anyone care to do an over under for 2 games above .500 at the end of february? to me that seems about where we will be and that might be optimistic the way they are playing seeing only 3 games at home this month.

the wall may be crumbling so there may not be anything to push against ando.

Melvin

February 1st, 2009
11:15 pm

I would be surprise if the ASG make a trade being that they have their court case this month. However, I would like to see this team add another big. I know it was reported that the Bucks wanted to trade Charlie V to reduce payroll. He would be a good player to come off the bench that could play all three front court positions.

Big Ray

February 2nd, 2009
11:05 am

Great post, Ando.

I have to wonder just how much Milwaukee would want to trade Villanueva right about now. It would have to be a blockbuster move of some sort, because with Redd out, Villanueva is easily their most potent scorer. Add to the fact that the guy seems to be blossoming like crazy lately, and I can only see his value going up.

What could the Bucks want in return? And if the Hawks are asking, what would we reasonably offer? Villanueva isn’t a guy you bring off the bench, unless you’re going to give him 30 minutes a game. But again, we’d have to offer something good to get him. That means a starter. And since Villanueva is neither a defensive nor post presence, that pretty much means no Josh and no Al (wouldn’t do either deal anyway). We all know what’s left…

Doc,

You could very unfortunately be right. And we’re not winning 50 games this year. Not playing like this. And while my pal Ando might get a small slice of crow pie here or there, he’s not going to be tasting the whole pastry. Too many factors play into this: coaching, injuries, and depth issues.

I have no idea how this trial is going to turn out, or what it will mean in the end. What I do know is that until there is some reasonable stability of finances and clear-cut ownership, this cloud will always hang over the team, and this team will never be as good as it can be. Pardon me if my faith in this ownership group is shaky (at best), but there’s an old saying:

“A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

Clyde

February 2nd, 2009
6:07 pm

FIRE WOODY!!!!!!!!!

Big Ray

February 2nd, 2009
7:07 pm

Hey, there’s Clyde!

BA

February 2nd, 2009
8:24 pm

I think Bibby was proof that as long as the salaries match, the GM (in this case Sund) can make any trade he wants. So if you trade Wiliams, for example, you have to get Williams equivalent in salary.

Johnson, Smith and Horford are untouchable. Considering how pizzed Johnson would be, I think it’s unlikely that they move Bibby. That leaves Pachulia (who we really need, even if we got a big back in the trade), Law, Williams, Childress, maybe your second round pick…

The next question is, who’s dumping salary, ala Sacramento Queens last year? I like Melvin’s idea, but doesn’t ole’ Charlie make a fortune?

Could we get Miller? Could we use Miller?

Personally, I’d LOVE to see them go for it- hell I liked the Bibby move last year. But I’m not even sure if another big trade would be enough- this group might still be too young to win a title.

Melvin

February 2nd, 2009
10:45 pm

It will be interesting to see how Orlando play without Jameer Nelson who will miss a couple of weeks with a separated shoulder. Tough break for him as he will miss playing in his 1st all-start game… Too bad for the Hawks, he should be back by time they play again…

Melvin

February 2nd, 2009
11:03 pm

BA, Charlie V is still playing on his rookie contract(3.4mil). With his surgence of late, not sure if the Bucks would trade him now. If they do, money wise that can’t expect too much in return b/c of Charlie salary unless they package him with another player. My guess, if they decide to move him, they would look for picks and expiring contracts in return and that trading team will have to eat one of their badd contracts.

Ray, I can’t seeing the Bucks wanting a deal that include Marvin b/c they already have RJ and the rookie Alexander that plays the same position Marvin does.

Again, if a team wants Charlie, I think they may have to accept RJ(13.2mil) contract as well…

Charlie/Gadzuric or RJ for Marvin/1st and/or ZaZa….

Harry

February 3rd, 2009
12:34 am

Hey,

I just checked out a trade and found that Anthony Parker & Chris Bosh for Mike Bibby and Zaza would work with salary numbers. I like having Bibby on the Hawks though, he adds a lot of leadership to this team and would like to see him remain a Hawk, but we need some bigger bodies down low. Randolph Morris and Solomon Jones are not real fun to watch. I think we should hang onto Marvin Williams, too. He is coming into his own and doing a great job this year. Being that Bosh was at GT, wouldn’t it be great to have him back? Anthony Parker would be a great bench player to add in as well. Think about Bosh, Horford, and Josh Smith as three big men on one team? What do you guys think?

Melvin

February 3rd, 2009
9:14 am

Harry, if you add Bosh without giving up at least one of your current frontcourt players (Josh, Marvin or AL) who will you send to the bench. Keep in mind you will have to resign Bosh and Marvin for next season. With possibly 3 out of 4 of your frontcourt players will be making possibly 10 mil or more per year and you still need at least a backup PG now that you traded Bibby (assuming Acie is your starter). Do you play the guys with the biggest salaries more or do you play the ones with the best chemistry. Either way, there will be an odd man out thats making alot of money to be a sub. I can’t see the ASG doing that unless they find some NY Knicks money.

Big Ray

February 3rd, 2009
12:48 pm

…..which won’t happen.

Najeh Davenpoop

February 3rd, 2009
12:48 pm

No way in hell the Raptors trade Bosh without getting a near-franchise caliber player back in return.

Najeh Davenpoop

February 3rd, 2009
12:50 pm

Something interesting I saw on ESPN… although the Hawks are in the bottom third of the league in home attendance, somehow they are #5 in the league in ROAD attendance, ahead of teams like Phoenix, Orlando and Denver.

http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/attendance?sort=away_avg&year=2009&seasonType=2

Don’t really know why they are so high on that list, but it is what it is…

Big Ray

February 3rd, 2009
1:08 pm

BA,

The more I think about it, the more I have to wonder about JJ being unhappy if Bibby is traded. Consider that Bibby himself has a decision to make as to whether or not he even wants to return to Atlanta. And that decision may have been made already, with Atlanta not being the answer.

JJ has to recall that this is a business and that he once asked NOT to be re-signed…which brings to mind another point-who is to say that JJ wants to return (even though we’re not there yet).

Just rambling thoughts…

Melvin

February 3rd, 2009
2:39 pm

Ray, I’m wouldn’t write off the Hawks not being able to resign JJ just yet. Considering his options, NY and Detroit will be in rebuilding stage not sure if he wants to be apart of that again. Toronto, Cleveland and Phx may not have enough cap space. Now Miami could be interesting. Playing along side with D.Wade maybe appealing for him but do Miami want to spend their money on another wing player instead of a big. Oh yeah, Houston may be a possibility as well. He could replace TMac and would Bibby be there to row out the welcome mat.

However, I still like the Hawks chances of resigning him. We should be competitive and he’s DA MAN on this team….

Melvin

February 3rd, 2009
2:54 pm

If the Hawks fail to resign Bibby, I wouldn’t mind seeing them go after Raymond Felton. I don’t think Charlotte will resign him with DJ being the favor of Larry Brown. Larry must think highly of DJ. Speaking of, I thought Larry doesn’t like playing rookies. Especially, rookies point guards. Isn’t Woody suppose to be a chip off of Larry’s block. Why in the heck is he not playing Acie extended mins like his mentor is doing with his rookie PG???

Big Ray

February 3rd, 2009
4:52 pm

Melvin,

I’m not writing the Hawks off in the case of JJ. Just mentioning the possibility.

As for Larry Brown, he was not impressed with Felton, and basically lobbied for Jordan and Co. to draft Augustin. Or so the story goes. As for Woody being like Brown, lets revisit the original job resume. It reads: “Larry Brown’s top assistant coach.” Brown’s forte is point guards. Who knows what Woody’s forte is…Brown brings a winning system and winning record, although he is high maintenance and has creative control issues when it comes to player personnel, with a penchant for blaming everybody but himself for failures. Woody has a losing record, has not proven that his “system” is a winning one, isn’t high maintenance (that we know of), has control issues when it comes to the bench and gameplan, but at least has the grace to admit to his own failures from time to time.

Bottom line: Larry wins most of the time (.601 percentage) Woody doesn’t (.354 percentage so far). Any questions?

To be fair, Larry has been coaching a lot longer. But look at some of his early coaching records, and how he’s been able to do when he first comes to a team. There IS a difference.

And then there’s this latest Woody quote:

“If nothing else, we should surprise some people who don’t quite know how to play us without Joe on the floor,” Woodson said, still trying to find a silver lining. “It just means our bench has to play a huge role for us this week. They have to be ready to go. And all of these guys are going to have to raise their game up until we get everybody back.”

Are you kidding? WE don’t know how we play without JJ…

MannyT

February 3rd, 2009
5:50 pm

Najeh,

Maybe other teams fans look at the record and decide that the Hawks ticket is a good game that they can get a seat to attend…and given our road record, they might expect a good game that their team wins.

ANDO,

Tonight is one of the best tests of your title question/statement. I hope the team does well. Minnesota is not a powerhouse, but they do have some talent–particularly Al Jefferson. While I am tempted to say that no JJ tonight screams that Woody’s chickens are coming home to roost–I hope the guys play well.

If only he had been working on developing that bench in November, December, & January, this would not be as daunting a proposition as I suspect over the next few games while Joe is out.

BWAF

Mike B.

February 3rd, 2009
7:03 pm

Great site fellas. I’m wondering though, if any team is willing to give up talent for a player or 2, an expiring contract, and/or draft pics why isn’t Speedy mentioned as an option? He has done nothing for us, has a high enough salary to be a throw in for some type of deal for teams looking to free up cap space (hint Milwaukee, not sure Charlie V would fit on this team though). I personally don’t like ZaZa’s game, but he does help the Hawks on most nights. Someone really needs to tell Woody how to use his bench. Doesn’t matter if we had the #1 draft pick, if we don’t develope him and let him play it’s worthless. You can’t tell me Acie Law is not an NBA player, but he has way too many DNP CD’s. Just a wish, but I would love a Joe Pryzbilla type on this roster and for Woody to turn Acie loose sometimes.

Rollins Tree

February 3rd, 2009
7:25 pm

Truth is we have the players to win even without them but we are missing that coach that inspires a team to give 100% every game. What sucks is we have the talent to compete with Celtics and Cavs but it is not going to happen under Woodson. Time for a change and lets see what this team can do under a new leader. I say early exit this year in the playoffs and under a new coach next year at least the conference finals.

Remember… if you aint first your last!!!!!

Big Ray

February 3rd, 2009
7:58 pm

Mike B.,

Thanks for stopping by. Make a habit of it, will ya?

I agree on the idea of letting Acie Law loose, and development of young players. We can talk about other things, but that’s one of my favorite equine fossils to take a stick to…

Sekou K. Smith

February 3rd, 2009
9:29 pm

The time to unleash this bench is long overdue. It’s the only way you’re going to find out for sure if you need these upgrades we always discuss and it’s the only way you’re going to make it through the mess that has become this illness-injury period of the season (and while Smith and Horford suffered freak injuries, Joe’s has to be related to the extended minutes he plays).

doc

February 3rd, 2009
11:32 pm

well well well, just hope jj doesnt have something like mono. he sure has played like he was in slow motion and at 85% dont want him ill but it begins to explain some of his issues as to why he hasnt looked the same. bodies do break down especially after a man reaches 27 years of age.

as far as injuries, san antonio seems to be without their big three completely by the box i saw and were still in the game into the fourth quarter. this team has also made the right move when backed to the wall, i expect it again tomorrow night. with horford in it also can give the coach some time to work on his new offense, you know the one where the ball goes into the middle rather than moves around the perimeter. unfortunately, i think woody means that the remaining starters still playing or guys in his now shortened rotations are to step up, not his bench that doesnt see minutes. his reference is to marvin and josh and horford to pick up the slack along with maybe mo or flip. if they do it means more down the stretch as it forces woody to develop new plays. also it might give bibby some time to be the point guard in the offense again. so misfortune might be fortunate.

BA

February 4th, 2009
2:05 am

doc, you’ve really had quite a couple of days here at the ‘ole ajc. I really liked the early post on the recent Sekou Smith blog (along with quite a few other people). A doctor and a writer? Doesn’t seem fair- like my man Sabathia- a pitcher that can hit!

In any event, misfortune might be fortunate? I can buy that- but it all goes back to consistency. It was certainly fortunate when Pachulia and Williams went for forty boards in that first game with Smith out, and it’s never happened again. Bibby was a magician in that home game against Milwaukee, a poor man’s Steve Nash- and very little since.

As far as having to run the offense without Johnson, or rather the fact that Atlanta’s offense runs through Johnson, I’ll say this: it ain’t going to change. It’s going to run through Johnson, and judging by his assist numbers, he’s doing a good job getting the ball to people. I think any of the talented coaches you mentioned would do the same with this roster, when you have one guy that (albeit a down year) is head and shoulders more consistent than anyone else on the roster (in regards to scoring). But I digress…

The keys will be Bibby, Williams, and Murray- because these cats need to score a LOT if the Hawks are going to a. play without #2 or b. keep playing the half azz defense that we’ve all grown to know and hate.

H.B. and B.R., keep up the good work around here.

Melvin

February 4th, 2009
8:26 am

Not so fast (Lee Corso) for those who think Bibby will be traded or not resign. Checkout Chad Ford (from ESPN) response to the Bibby question. But I would do it for Ellis…heh,heh

Matt (ATL): Aloha Chad. What do you think the Hawks will do with Bibby’s expiring contract? I understand them not wanting to mess up their best season in years; however, it is clear that they need more to be among the league’s elite teams. Any chance they go after a guy like Monta Ellis? Thanks in advance.

Chad Ford: I haven’t heard Bibby’s name on the block at all. My guess is they want to re-sign him for less money this summer and try to keep some momentum going. However, if they could get the chance to add a young player like Ellis, they’d be crazy not to try. But why would the Warriors do that deal? Then again … since nothing the Warriors do makes sense anymore, maybe it’s the perfect idea.

O'brien

February 4th, 2009
12:58 pm

I think one factor that Bibby will look at is where do the Hawks stand at the end of the year. Did they finish 4th, or did they finish 7th?

Plus, it will also depend on the ASG court ruling. If Bibby does not believe that the Hawks will give him the money he wants, then he will leave and go somewhere else. And that’s one reason why we should have been developing Acie.

If the Hawks lose, Woody will blame it on JJ’s absence. And Minny has been playing really well this year, so the Hawks willl have their hands full (playing on the road).

jhan

February 4th, 2009
6:42 pm

If Woody doesn’t play the bench major minutes this week then he never will. The next 5 games will be a good time to evaluate how far Woody has progressed as a coach. He says it’s time for his bench to step up & I agree. This is also the time for our coach to step up. What he’s been doing lately isn’t working. If he can’t change as a coach then it’s time for a coaching change.

Big Ray

February 4th, 2009
8:10 pm

Can Bibby deal with Foye? Or will Law get a crack at him? Many other questions are raised, but in the meantime…..

Game On!

Sekou Smith,

Thankyou sir for gracing our blog with your presence. And good point!

HB Ando

February 4th, 2009
8:20 pm

Is that the REAL Sekou Smith, stopping by, or an imposter?

JJ’s absence is the obvious story line tonight. But as the game gets underway, and with a perusal of the recent stats of Kevin Love (who has been added to my shaky “Sekou’s Bloggers” fantasy front line), a match up to watch is how the Hawks front line deals with Jefferson and Love. We’re smaller, quicker and more athletic, but they’re both classic low post players, so that battle could have as much to do with tonight’s outcome as the lack of Johnson.

Oddly, as much abuse as McHale has taken for his GM decisions (doc, I think we all know how you feel about his track record), the Wolves have been much improved since he went to the bench.

The Hawks, on the road without JJ, are probably even money against this Minny team who is clearly inferior, record-wise (but they’re quite a bit better than their overall season record).

Big Ray

February 4th, 2009
8:34 pm

Uh-oh. Josh scored 9 points in the first quarter. By law, he must now be taken out of the offense for at least one quarter. : )

Big Ray

February 4th, 2009
8:47 pm

Good points, Ando. So far we’re holding our own by limiting the number of decent looks Jefferson gets.

They’re beating us on the boards, but we are literally shooting twice as well. One of the keys here is staying consistent and keeping our defensive intensity up to par. We’re not playing as good a defense as we could be, but it’s enough to combine with their poor shooting to translate into a double digit lead.

Let Jefferson get going (and Love), or let Foye/Miller make some shots, and it will be tough. Keep them off balance, and it’s a win on the road…

Big Ray

February 4th, 2009
9:53 pm

Now this is how it’s supposed to work. Focus mostly on the frontcourt, with a contribution of 48 points from Zaza, Marvin, and Josh.

Meanwhile this has positively affected Bibby’s game, giving him better looks all game. This helps Bibby shoot better, and he’s 6 to 1 in assist-to-turnover.

Big Ray

February 4th, 2009
10:39 pm

Tried to give it away with some awful free throw shooting (clearly there is an epidemic going on here) towards the end, but Bibby helped out with a dagger of a three, and some clutch free throws.

A game that should have been a blow-out turns into a foul fest, but then…the officiating wasn’t great either. Either way, we get a win on the road and that’s ALWAYS a good thing.

Go Hawks!

Sautee

February 5th, 2009
9:24 am

Road wins are like GOLD

MannyT

February 5th, 2009
1:44 pm

Suatee,

Does that mean we bag up road wins and send them off so Ed McMahon & MC Hammer can get paid ;-)

Sautee

February 5th, 2009
3:49 pm

Hey Manny, if that would get the ASG out of debt, you bet your a$$ they’d try it!

And by the way, I don’t think it’s Cash For “like gold”!

That would be like Dialing For “like dollars”. ;-)

hey maybe it’s a Valley Gurrl Show!

doc

February 5th, 2009
11:13 pm

ando, mchale is still stupid as h3ll. he could have foye, oj and jefferson to build a team around. i would like to have tried to coach them. love and jefferson get in each others way … stupid, stupid, stupid. stupid as anything or more than you called your former foil bk who is smarter than mchale by a mile. beg to differ, love for oj? stupid, just plain stupid. and before you say it, miller didnt come close to making up for a potential all star in oj.

Melvin

February 6th, 2009
10:00 am

I was shock to when Minny trade OJ for Love. OJ seem like the perfect compliment to AL low-post scoring and Foye play making ability from the perimeter. Most of all, I thought Minny needed OJ for his star power. As good as AL and Foye are neither one puts butts in seats. And Love barely keep his butt of the seats at the end of the bench. Agreed with Doc, Love is not a good fit along side Jefferson.

Doc, will you be at the Clips game tomorrow? I will be there in the expensive seats….

doc

February 6th, 2009
4:31 pm

yeah, melvin look for me.

Melvin

February 6th, 2009
4:45 pm

Will do Doc.
I may be going to the game in Charlotte tonite. I guess you can call me a Hawks groupie…heh heh

Big Ray

February 6th, 2009
7:24 pm

Whooooeee! What a block by Josh!

Big Ray

February 6th, 2009
8:42 pm

New blog up, for anybody that might be out there….