Season opener

The NBA regular season opens tomorrow evening with three games, and you can bet the vote getter for “headliner” is Boston vs. Miami. For Hawks fans, however, things get kickstarted on Wednesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies, whom the Hawks also faced during the preseason.

The preseason affair may or may not be an indication of how the Hawks will do in their opener. A high scoring loss marred by both a massive amount of turnovers and haphazard defense is something that neither the team, coaches, or fans want to see again. At the same time, there were things in that game that we’d all like to see, such as Jeff Teague’s aggressiveness, Zaza Pachulia’s committment to the glass on both ends, and Marvin Williams playing quite well. That said, let the series of experiments begin. It all starts with whether or not Larry Drew can get more out of this core of players. But as always, the devil is in the details. Here are a few things to consider.

A tale of three captains

Joe Johnson sees a lot. He knows this team. He knows what ails this team, and was known (and criticized) for saying so during post game commentary. The problem is, he’s right. The Hawks don’t play hard every night, they don’t play hard all game long sometimes, and they have issues dealing with serious adversity. Al Horford feels the same way about these issues, and he is beginning to express his concerns more vividly, now that he too, is a team captain. But what of Josh Smith, the third team captain? While he has an affinity for the defensive end of the floor, he doesn’t always focus on the offensive end the way he should. More importantly, does he share the same view as his fellow team captains on attitude, work ethic, etc? We are already hearing some of the same exact stuff as we did last year, in regard to the shortfalls of this team. But Josh tells us not to worry.

What happens when these three guys aren’t on the same page? ARE they on the same page? Many have questioned Larry Drew’s decision to name three team captains, let alone naming the emotional and still maturing Smith.

 

The future is…not yet

Despite being given the chance to win the starting job from Mike Bibby, Jeff Teague will begin the season coming off the bench. Chalk it up to lack of consistency. Whether that is from Teague spending much of the preseason on the bench with injuries, his youth and inexperience, or the continual question of his passive-aggressive mindset. Whatever it is, Teague has time to get it together, but who knows exactly how much time. One thing is for sure – the Hawks know that Mike Bibby is not as capable as he once was, and Teague provides the speed and potentially the defensive edge that the Hawks need at the point guard position. He’ll get some serious minutes, but what will he do with them? Atlanta already has one starter with a passive mindset and they don’t need another, least of all at that position. Teague can’t continue to be a guy that his teammates and coaches must constantly coddle. Either he steps up and shows that he can get the job done, or he doesn’t. In which case, the Hawks continue to be haunted at the point guard spot, forever trying to find that player who represents both now and the future.

Though Larry Drew maintains that he seems him as a shooting guard, keep an eye on Jordan Crawford. You just never know how these things turn out.

 

This and That

_ Josh Powell may be the first guy the Hawks have had at power forward, that allows Josh Smith to be out of a game without it hurting too much. Powell appears to be the kind of low post team-first and tough guy the Hawks have been needing for what seems like forever. Much is made of the results of minimum contracts, but Powell may yet debunk the bemoaning of such moves.

_ This has been said before, but I don’t think there is enough emphasis placed on it. Simply put, the Hawks have also been saddled with the fact that Zaza pachulia was their only option at center if Horford is out of the game. Despite whatever issues he had with former coach Mike Woodson, this has worked to his favor. Zaza had better hope his head is as clear and his zeal renewed as he says, because Jason Collins looks like a totally different player than last year. And again, if Etan Thomas shows he can stay healthy and be effective, he’ll also be vying for playing time. Zaza can’t afford to have lapses or bad games. Or, he’ll lose minutes.

_ What’s up with the Hawks and Al Horford’s contract extension? Al says he isn’t surprised by the way things are going, and that has to make you wonder how this is going to turn out. We know that the Collective Bargaining Agreement is due for a re-hash, but we also remember Josh Smith getting an extension offer the year before he became a restricted free agent. Is this that different? Will the Hawks wait until the last day, then make a low ball pitch to superagent Arn Tellem, or will they “git ‘er done?” Meanwhile, Horford says he’s not worried. Well of course not. Horford knows his value, and knows he won’t be hurting for a job. We shouldn’t worry either.

 

Should we?

136 comments Add your comment

Big Ray

October 26th, 2010
10:53 pm

Melvin ,

So….do you think Big Al becomes a RFA?

Melvin

October 26th, 2010
11:02 pm

Ray,

I wouldnt be surprise if he a RFA next season. The Hawks have the leverage and it’s up to Alford agent to come up with a deal to the Hawks liking.

MannyT

October 26th, 2010
11:03 pm

Time to return to NBA hoops.

I don’t think the glamour boys (Heat) will have a better record than the Magic in the regular season. The Heat will be the NBA equivalent of the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Sexcapades, etc. Until they gel, it will be more show than execution.

Sure they will have a good record, but they will not threaten the wins record or even win the division.

Unfortunately, that means the Hawks are probably 3rd in the SE. That means they probably get a 5th or 6th seed (After Orlando, Miami, Boston, then a dogfight with Chicago & Milwaukee. Not that Chi or Mlw are better, but Hawks will get pushed down in seedings b/c they are not a division winner and Chi/Mlw will be.) Think Braves season ending run w/SF & SD) I don’t see the Hawks having another season of great health. Not wishing for injuries, but they were almost freakishly healthy last season. Take some injury hits, a 1st time head coach and you get about 48 wins 34 losses. The wildcard in all this is if Sund decides to move Jamal during the season. NBA trades often suck up extra players to make the numbers work.

LD and the modified Sacramento/Princeton offense will ultimately be a good thing, but it will take time to develop. As it does, don’t be surprised if Bibby plays more minutes than you expect. Teague’s advantage is on defense. Breaking down a guy off the dribble is less important in a motion offense than making a shot. Who would you rather have to take a shot, Bibby or Teague?

..and the Magic are the team to beat in the East. They have been together for awhile, are younger than Boston and they can hurt the Glams
(Miami) in their 2 positions of non-stardom, PG & C.

I said it…you can take it to Vegas…the rooms are cheap until the economy improves! :-)

MannyT

October 26th, 2010
11:08 pm

I don’t mean to be the grim reaper of Hawks hoops, but if the owners threaten to lock out players, cut salaries, shorten contracts, possibly cut back on contract guarantees, contract teams, kick dogs and do everything else that will upset players and make the league more profitable for owners, I do see one bone tossed to players.

Some kind of relaxation of restricted free agency.

If you don’t sign Al now, the rules could be VERY different the next time he can be signed. Not saying that he would leave, but the terms for his new deal could be very stressful to deal with after this season.

niremetal

October 26th, 2010
11:33 pm

MannyT,

You’re right about there being a risk that the rules for RFAs might change, but even as it stands right now, there are only 5 teams in the league (Hou, Ind, NJ, OKC, Sacramento) that are slated to have enough cap space (after minimum salary roster cap holds are added) to offer a player a contract starting at $10M a year or more – and that’s assuming the cap doesn’t drop. Even assuming the cap remains the same, you can essentially scratch Hou and OKC off that list because extending Brooks or Yao would wipe out Houston’s cap space, and extending Green would scratch OKC off. I just can’t see Al being willing to sign with the train wrecks in Indiana, NJ (I’m still stunned that they gave Outlaw 5/35), or Sacramento. If the cap is lowered at all, you can subtract Ind and NJ from that list too.

It’s a risk, but extending Al and being stuck in a hard cap system where we have to dump a rotation player for nothing strikes me as a risk that’s more likely to come to fruition.

MannyT

October 26th, 2010
11:43 pm

@niremetal…I agree.

I wonder how owners plan to pull back on the salary cap levels when the majority of the teams are always over the cap. It’s going to be like phasing in prohibition in a bar full of alcoholics. You can make the rules, but no one will want them.

buzz

October 27th, 2010
6:43 am

41-41, first round playoff exit, wake me when the season is over.

O'Brien

October 27th, 2010
7:38 am

In 2007, San Antonio sent the draft rights to Scola along with reserve center Jackie Butler to Houston in exchange for Greek guard Vassilis Spanoulis and a 2009 second-round pick.

Watching Scola last night against the Lakers, its hard to believe that the Spurs traded him to Houston, a division rival, for what? To avoid Luxury Tax? Because they didnt think he would be a good fit?

I guess when you already have TD, Parker, Manu, and a HOF coach, you can make those decisions, and not get blasted for it. If the Hawks had done that, we’d still be hearing about it.

vava74

October 27th, 2010
9:32 am

OB,

Even before Scola played a single game for HOU I thought that the trade was a mistake given Scola’s maturity and international success with Argentina.

Scola would have given SA another title in my opinion since his pairing with Duncan would have been very effective.

Astro Joe

October 27th, 2010
9:42 am

Kind of funny, despite all of the canniblogging of the off-season, many around here are predicting a win total within 1-3 of each other. Maybe for different reasons, but the predicted result is essentially the same. Sounds like the very definition of “violent agreement”.

Is it 8:00PM yet? No? Damn!

Astro Joe

October 27th, 2010
9:46 am

BTW, Carlos Arroyo “started” at PG for the Heat and played all of 13 minutes last night. That’s why I continue to harp on the insignificance of Teague “starting”. The only thing that matters is playing time and finishing close games. Arroyo may become the answer to a trivia question (”Who was the starting PG on the Super Friends team?”) but it is very, very doubtful that he plays meaningful minutes in late/close games.

O'Brien

October 27th, 2010
9:49 am

AJ,

It’s the summer of sameness, remember? So many expect our season to be within 5 games or so of last year’s win total. If we want to make it really interesting, we can predict playoff exit.

I’m thinking second round exit, losing 4-2.

vava,

I thought Scola would have been good for them even as a sub, because he could fill in admirably for TD at times, helping him stay fresh.

Astro Joe

October 27th, 2010
9:52 am

Ob, we lose in 1st round in 7 games.

vava74

October 27th, 2010
10:04 am

my prediction: 51-31

I started by considering 22 more or less logical defeats in some away games and some selected home games (Bos – H/A, Mia H/A, Orl H/A, Lakers A, SA A, Chi A, Dallas A , Denver A, Mil A…) and then added 9 defeats due to the many back to backs.

I think we will go 1/3 against Bos, 1/4 against Mia and Orl, 1/1 against SA, Lakers, Dallas, Denver, Portland and OKC and 2/2 or 3/1 against MIL and CHI.

Then the added defeats are against lower graded teams due to us being tired / disinterested / unfocused.

All very similar to last year.

Possible variations to the above:

2/2 or even 3/1 against Bos; 2/3 or even 3/2 against MIA; 2/3 against ORL

vava74

October 27th, 2010
11:21 am

I am starting to feel opening night butterflies… and I have a strange feeling that tonight’s game will mark the way the whole season will work out.

If we lose tonight, we will be a 41-49 win team. If we win comfortably, I think we will win 50-54 games. If we win categorically, we will win 54-58 games.

MannyT

October 27th, 2010
11:32 am

MannyT

October 27th, 2010
11:37 am

Not sure we get to 2nd round in playoffs. Depends on who we get in 1st round. If we end up with a SE conf opponent in 1st round, we’re in trouble. Orlando is still our mouse daddy! Otherwise we’re ok.

Astro Joe

October 27th, 2010
2:58 pm

~5 hours to tip-off.

Astro Joe

October 27th, 2010
3:00 pm

You know, if Drew wantrs Horford to thinking like he is a center, how about having Horford rep the team during the opening jump ball as opposed to Josh?

O'Brien

October 27th, 2010
4:28 pm

AJ,

Al does not have the hops that Josh does.

Marc Gasol is not playing tonight, so I would like to see Al and Josh keep Zach Randolph under wraps on the glass.

http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2010/oct/27/marc-gasol-miss-tonights-season-opener-grizzlies/

Astro Joe

October 27th, 2010
4:50 pm

OB, I know that, but so what? The jump ball traditionally is done by the centers of the 2 teams. I’d bet that Iggy & Thad Young can touch a higher spot on the backboard than Spencer Hawes, but I’m guessing Hawes will handle the task for the 76ers. Blake Griffin may have an advantage over Kamen. Who does it for the Celtics… heaven knows KG can soar over Perkins and Shaq. The job should belong to the team’s starting center.

Astro Joe

October 27th, 2010
4:51 pm

3.25 hours to someone jumping for the ball.

niremetal

October 27th, 2010
5:03 pm

MannyT,

I think I posted that link around the time we traded the second round pick. Strangely, it seemed to get completely ignored :roll:

vava74

October 27th, 2010
6:08 pm

Minus 2 hours…

MannyT

October 27th, 2010
6:08 pm

@Astro

Maybe the Hawks have an odd case of xenophobia. Aside from Zaza, foreign players have not had much success here in a long time. (Al gets the American college exception card.)

The last good foreign player was a power fwd in a small fwd body (Diaw) and you see how well he did here. Pape Sy had to pay his own way to get here. BK fleeced the Hawks for Pau Gasol the 1st time and we didn’t even get into the magic beans deal the Grizz made with the Lakers a few years ago.

We prefer bad Americans to good Euros here. Shame. San Antonio has generally done a great job importing hoops stars. Scola was one that got away.

Gotta get ready for tip off.

MannyT

October 27th, 2010
6:11 pm

vava74

October 27th, 2010
6:12 pm

Gasol’s absence is potentially good news, however we tend to relax when things look easy(ier)…

MannyT

October 27th, 2010
6:35 pm

You’ll have a good time w/this link if you have 20 minutes. Retweeted by Sekou

My failure was getting stuck on Euro names that I could not spell…that’s the best help I can provide. Got to 90.

Enjoy.

http://bit.ly/ax5Zsm

niremetal

October 27th, 2010
8:34 pm

The “bad” from last season check-up:

OFFENSE
- No early-clock ISOs
- Josh has taken 3 long jumpers (including a 3). He hit 1.
- Marvin and Bibby being aggressive

DEFENSE
- So far, so good on all of last year’s weak fronts – closing out on shooters. staying in front of the guards, not conceding the lane

O'Brien

October 27th, 2010
8:59 pm

Guys are standing up, and cheering from the bench. And this is only game 1. I like it

niremetal

October 27th, 2010
9:12 pm

Is it just me or does Jamal seem to be operating entirely outside the flow of the offense?

O'Brien

October 27th, 2010
9:15 pm

nire,

I agree. he seems to hold the ball way too long.

Great first half by ZaZa. It looks like he was thrilled to see Woody go

vava74

October 27th, 2010
9:24 pm

Zaza has been great tonight, however, he is capitalizing on a limping ZeBo and no Gasol.

Don’t get overhyped. He is producing in line with what he should given the above.

Astro Joe

October 27th, 2010
9:28 pm

Can we trade Jamal tonight?

Astro Joe

October 27th, 2010
9:30 pm

Offense looks great. Defense is good… Memphis is helping by taking awful shots. Conley looks like his light bulb has been turned on. And Powell thinks that he is Karl Malone (Josh thinks he’s Ray Allen). But it’s all good.

vava74

October 27th, 2010
9:32 pm

On a different note:

Miami shot 20 FTs more than Philadelphia.

Down by 10 with a minute to go, Nocioni burried a 3 pointer and was fouled. No call.

Mia misses the next shot and Phila is “rewarded” with an offensive foul on their next attack…

O'Brien

October 27th, 2010
9:35 pm

AJ,

Jamal knew his numbers won’t be so good this year. He wanted to capitalize on his market value. However, its still early in the season.

Celtics beat Miami last night, but they are losing to Cleveland tonight (down 3, less than a minute to go)

Astro Joe

October 27th, 2010
9:37 pm

Seriously, hasn’t half of Josh’s shots been long range tonight?

vava74

October 27th, 2010
9:40 pm

Astro,

My hope is that, like last year after the game against the Lakers (second game of the year), Josh abandons that stuff.

O'Brien

October 27th, 2010
9:51 pm

AJ,

I think 5 of his 8 shots have been from long range. He is 1-5. Other than his jump shots though, he has looked good.

Hopefully, he gets them out of his system tonight.

And why cant we stop the Grizzlies all of a sudden? Within 6.

vava74

October 27th, 2010
9:53 pm

this is heading south pretty fast

JJ is having a bad shooting night, Josh is doing bone head plays after bone head plays which he then more or less compensates with his blocks…

Al is non existent tonight…

vava74

October 27th, 2010
9:54 pm

and so many careless turnovers…

vava74

October 27th, 2010
9:55 pm

I just hope that the Grizz run out of steam…

O'Brien

October 27th, 2010
10:01 pm

Good run by the Hawks to push the lead back to 15.

15 and 7 for Marvin.

I think Al’s extension amount just went down after this game

niremetal

October 27th, 2010
10:02 pm

Zaza for President!

lukas

October 27th, 2010
10:03 pm

Isn’t Teague the PG? Jamal is ballhogging every single offensive turn. He’s not playing for the team; he’s playing for himself!!

O'Brien

October 27th, 2010
10:04 pm

I would have loved to see ZaZa wave the finger Dikembe style

Astro Joe

October 27th, 2010
10:07 pm

Without Z Bo, Gay in foul trouble, Gasol hurt and Mayo MIA, this looks like an NBDL team.

niremetal

October 27th, 2010
10:08 pm

I agree with Lukas. This is a BAD sign if Jamal is gonna keep pulling this. Yeah, his FG% looks ok, but there have been 4-5 wasted possessions where his teammates set up for the flex, but he decided to go ISO and we ended up missing a low-percentage jumper at the end of the clock.

niremetal

October 27th, 2010
10:10 pm

I agree to an extent, Astro, but Mayo wasn’t MIA on his own. Our perimeter defenders were swarming him.