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

niremetal

October 27th, 2010
10:13 pm

Powell looking pretty good too.

I ain’t worried about Al, JJ, or even Josh (I’m starting to think that “peer pressure” will get to him if he keeps taking jumpers while the offense is clicking for everyone else). I think they’ll come along. I like what I’ve seen from the question marks – Marvin, Powell, Zaza, and Mo have been great, and JT0 has been uneven but still looks ready for rotation minutes. Jamal has a nice-looking box score, but he’s the one who worries me most after tonight. Bad D as always, and looks thoroughly uncommitted to the new offense.

O'Brien

October 27th, 2010
10:14 pm

I’m not liking Jamal’s flow. he seems to do it on his own more than anybody else…

Astro Joe

October 27th, 2010
10:14 pm

A lot of FTAs for Joe tonight… that’s new.

Astro Joe

October 27th, 2010
10:16 pm

Bibby looks like a guy who should be starting for a 50 win team. Steady. Not trying to do too much. Just doing what his coach asks him to do.

vava74

October 27th, 2010
10:17 pm

our offensive spacing is soooo much better…

vava74

October 27th, 2010
10:18 pm

yeah, Jamal is playing on his own…

Astro Joe

October 27th, 2010
10:24 pm

Time to let JC2 get some love.

Astro Joe

October 27th, 2010
10:26 pm

Why are the starters still in…20 point lead and less than 4:00 minutes.

niremetal

October 27th, 2010
10:27 pm

Horford knows his box score looks empty and he’s forcing it. Fortunately, I don’t think he’d do that if the game were closer.

vava74

October 27th, 2010
10:31 pm

Astro,

Because this team is still a work in progress executing this offense.

They need more minutes together.

niremetal

October 27th, 2010
10:40 pm

Sure there were some worrying signs, and yeah the Grizzlies were depleted. But anytime you can start your season with a win on the road against a team most people expect to challenge for a playoff spot in the West…hey, that’s a hell of a start.

vava74

October 27th, 2010
10:41 pm

MIL lost their first game

vava74

October 27th, 2010
10:46 pm

And CHI also went down…

Big Ray

October 28th, 2010
12:42 am

Hawks offense definitely looks better than ever with the ball and personnel movement. The more the ball moves, the greater potential there is for turnovers, so I’m not too worried about that.

The bench looked legit, and that was great (in part, because we needed them to be).

I see Josh is doing his same stuff as last season, blocking a bunch of shots, not rebounding nearly as well as he’s capable, dishing out a handful of assists, and taking enough jumpers (and missing them) to make you wanna scream. Not gonna make the all-star team with those numbers, that’s for sure.

I also see we’re leaning on him too much to clean up the mistakes we make starting on the perimeter.

Bibby looks better than he has in quite a while. Maybe this new offense really suits him (he hasn’t played in a real offense since Rick Adelman left Sacramento).

I liked Marvin’s contribution. Dude hit shots, hit free throws, and rebounding decently. Anybody who says Rudy Gay torched him…well, Gay needed 6 free throws to help his 7-16 shooting from the floor, and 21 points is good, but not great.

Yes, Rudy Gay makes you want to find Billy Knight and smack him upside the afro….

Al Horford came into the season like he should be on the front of a Wheaties box. Instead, he’s going to be on the back of a orange juice carton under “missing persons”. I hope it’s just an issue with his ankle or whatever, because we need a heck of a lot more out of him than what he gave us.

In the meantime, Zaza was great off the bench, and we finally have found a good PF off the bench in Powell. I’ll take 8 points and 6 boards in 20 minutes anytime.

Jamal helped, but something told me that he would not have nearly the prominent role in this new offense, and it shows already. Here’s the irony in it: he’s holding the ball with his dribbling act in ways that people always used to accuse Joe Johnson of doing. Didn’t see that coming, huh?

Joe Johnson….what can be said? Not the best shooting night, but this makes up for it: 9-11 from the charity stripe. I’ll take those 40-something percent shooting nights all season long if he can get to the line 4+ times a night.

Jeff Teague – didn’t look bad, didn’t look great. I’m looking for him to grow into things more. I’m giving it 20-30 games, but by then he should be having a very clear impact on the game in significant minutes, if he doesn’t win the starting job. Why? Because there will be nights where Bibby gets covered up on one end, and can’t stay in front of the opposing pg on the other end, and Teague will need to come into the game, showing his ability to stay in front of point guards, and penetrate the lane.

I’ll take the win on the road. Anytime.

Big Ray

October 28th, 2010
12:46 am

I wasn’t worried about Joe’s preseason turnovers. Sure enough, he rings up 7 assists and 2 turnovers.

Jamal isn’t getting an extension here, not playing like that. Guy never causes problems and is great in the community. But if this team continues to embrace this offense, they just won’t need him the same way they did last year. Especially if Marvin continues to do well.

Up next is Philly, who has consistently given us trouble in the last couple of years. Big difference? No low post enforcer (Dalembert) anymore, with Elton Brand being the closest thing to any sort of discourager at the rim. More on that later…

vava74

October 28th, 2010
4:11 am

TS,

You are incorrigible! What a man crush you must have for Al… Did he refuse to give you an autograph?

Only a love-spite produces that type of reaction…

doc

October 28th, 2010
9:41 am

nire summed it up perfectly and succinctly at 10:40.

go hawks!

Astro Joe

October 28th, 2010
10:16 am

I (temporarily) retract my criticism of Jamal from last night. While he clearly needs to play within the offense more than he did yesterday, we will need his special ability to make a basket “be any means neccesary”. Josh, on the other hand, his shot selection was inexcusable. Drew is facing the identical problem that the previous coach faced… dude is much too valuable on the defensive side to “hold him accountable” for his childish shot selection. I thought that Smith was supposed to be “banned” from the perimeter, but there he was, 18+ feet from the basket, in many sets. I’m sure the Josh apologists will claim that he is un-learning the bad habits he picked up while working for the previous head coach. I just think that dude likes to shoot long-range shots with 10+ seconds left on the shot clock. But as long as he is a defensive terror, all will have to live with his annoying habit of pretending he is Jamal Mashburn.

O'Brien

October 28th, 2010
11:20 am

AJ,

Josh makes a lot of those shots in practice, so its like he wants to prove everybody wrong during the game. LD will have his hands full, but if it becomes a bad habit where Josh is shooting multiple shots a game, then I would like to see him take Josh out of the game to send a message, especially since Powell has looked better than I thought he would.

As for Jamal, I think he will do his own thing on offense more than anybody else. He is playing for a contract, probably as a starter, and averaging 13 ppg off the bench might not get him the contract he is looking for.

Astro Joe

October 28th, 2010
11:39 am

OB, Lebron routinely makes half-court shots in practice…

doc

October 28th, 2010
12:56 pm

aj, seems you read the notes of MC from last night as you reassess your comments. no you dont get instant offense from anyone else. flip isnt here and he is two years older than he was while here. we will need every player to do their jobs. jamal wasnt brought here to be a stopper on defense. let jordan prove he has what it takes before jettisoning of jamal. let teague show he can be a stopper not jamal.

O'Brien

October 28th, 2010
1:29 pm

AJ,

I don’t want taking those shots either. I was just speculating what his thinking might be.

On draft day, Jay bilas said Josh is the player most likely to be a bust. That probably pushed Josh to be better and prove him wrong.

Doc,

Jamal needs to do a better job picking his spots though (when to improvise, when to stay with the motion).

doc

October 28th, 2010
2:07 pm

i didnt see the game so i cant comment specifics. many said jamal was not in flow while others said though they saw the motion offense it wasnt used as much as they expected. so was hein the flow or not in the context of what LD wanted is the question? yes, he will go off on his own due to his instincts to play like that. again, we also dont know exactly what is expected of him from LD. only i think it is ludicrous at this point to say after one game he is playing this way only to get a contract since this is how he has played his whole career right or wrong. like everything, i guess we need some time to let it sort out. last year it was a godsend, this year we dont know yet.

it seems LD will be refreshingly honest about expectations and it will be transparent. i will await a few games before deciding even one or two live as a seaon ticket holder. i look forward to watching body language between coach and all the players as it is very suggestive of what is going on deep. it also seems he communicates through the players first and not through the press which is the major way his candid comments could backfire. i really like his comments and his talk. i just hope he can deliver because as a fan that is perfect, a winning team with a coach that is articulate.

Astro Joe

October 28th, 2010
2:15 pm

doc, I honestly had not read MC’s comments when I made that statement. I was thinking about how much harder it would be to handle the Hawks if the opposing team doesn’t know if they are about to run the new pentangle offense, some classic pick & roll stuff or just utilize Joe, Jamal or Al in isolation. You have used football analogies before. They say that when an offense can run different schemes with the same personnel, it makes it that much harder to defend. If the Falcons have to sub Turner when they want to feature an RB in the passing game, then the defense can be easily tipped off when Turner leaves the field. But if Turner can learn how to become an effective pass catcher, it makes the offense much more effective and unpredictable. So if Jamal is there and is sometimes asked to do his tricky-dribble, Harlem Globetrotters routine in one possession and then in the very next one, Josh is finding him on a backdoor cut to the rim, then the opposing coach will likely be thinking “WTF am I going to do now to defend this ish?” And so, we need to deal with Jamal’s antics (which I find annoying) because of the diversification he could provide. Josh’s jump shots? I have yet to figure out an intelligent reason to allow that nonsense to continue. Drew had it right in the presser… keep his butt in the painted area (exclusively).

Astro Joe

October 28th, 2010
2:24 pm

doc, in repsonse to your 2:07 post, shortly after Jamal checked into the game, Rathburn was saying something like”this offense is great, no one has had to force up a shot”. And then, maybe 2 seconds after that left his mouth (and after watching some effortless scoring by several different players throughout the quarter), Jamal forces up a wild shot with maybe 18 seconds left on the shot clock. I think that’s when I thought to myself, “TRADE HIS BUTT THIS SECOND”. But like I said, I hereby retract that sentiment… at least for a minute. :twisted:

WR

October 28th, 2010
2:37 pm

Big Ray, nice assessments of last nights opener. I personally really liked the fact that Drew went deep into his bench, and while they were playing well he continued to let them play, if he and they(the bench) can keep this up all season it will pay great dividends at the end of the season and into the playoffs, REST, something the Hawks starters haven’t been accustomed to in recent memory.

As for the offense, it was exciting to see players using backdoor screens, passing to the open man while staying patience, and just the idea of seeing everyone constantly moving. Who knows how it will turnout but from this first game it at least gave a fan something to be excited about rather then waiting on the next J-Smoove dunk. Speaking of Smoove, apparently he plans to make sure we forget that he only took seven threes all of last year, rocky road ahead, Smoove is back into launching mode, and not the launch intended for a dunk, warning, possible sporadic threes could be launched at anytime, if you have any blood pressure issues be forewarned.

niremetal

October 28th, 2010
3:23 pm

Josh’s shot chart from yesterday:
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_A8Q03qBLGIs/TMl_nsCV61I/AAAAAAAAAMo/HceekKWNRSU/s1600/josh+smith+10.27.jpg

For those keeping track: 3 for 3 inside the paint, 2 for 7 outside the paint.

I really, honestly don’t get Josh on this point. Why the f*ck does he think he needs to prove he can hit jumpers? Last time I checked, no one gave a damn if you’re a PF who can’t shoot a jumper as long as you can defend, rebound, and score from the low post and on putbacks. Long as you can do things, no one cares about your jump shots…unless, of course, you insist on shooting and missing jump shots. In other words, no one here would give a rat’s azz about Josh’s poor jump shooting skills AS LONG AS HE DIDN’T KEEP SHOOTING THE DAMNED JUMPERS.

niremetal

October 28th, 2010
3:27 pm

*Long as you can do those things

Astro Joe

October 28th, 2010
4:09 pm

nire, Amen. 70% of his FGAs outside of the paint. That would be a bad percentage for Joe Johnson. According to some stuff I was reading on Hoopinion over the past week or so, the trend started in pre-season games. UGHHHH!

Astro Joe

October 28th, 2010
4:12 pm

doc

October 28th, 2010
4:58 pm

aj gotcha. got to admit it was funny to see your strong remarks
last night, see MC’s write up this a m and turn to thr nest blog to find your retraction. remember ur guy flip made some bonehead ones too. i liked flip just as much as u bro. we need a scorer sparkplug off the bench and as you say if LD can mix up his pitches then the other coach has got to say wtf!

Astro Joe

October 28th, 2010
5:02 pm

doc, just trying to remember the lesson I learned during the “Woody Era”… there is more than one way to make a good burger. So let’s see how Chef Drew uses the Jamal ingredient. :lol:

O'Brien

October 28th, 2010
6:39 pm

doc,

There was another play where jamal got the ball with about 7 or 8 seconds left on the clock, and he was 3 steps behind the 3 point line.

Without even looking if anybody was open, he took one dribble to get closer to the 3pt line, and attempted the 3, although his defender had a hand up, and a second defender was closing on him quick.

I know that the shot clock was winding down, but that was typical of his play most of the night. More often than not, he held the ball way too long.

That being said, its only one game, and he missed a lot of the preseason, so maybe he hasnt fully adjusted to the motion offense as yet. And he did go 5-11 (46%). We’ll see how he does as the season continues.

2 cents

October 28th, 2010
6:39 pm

“no one here would give a rat’s azz about Josh’s poor jump shooting skills AS LONG AS HE DIDN’T KEEP SHOOTING THE DAMNED JUMPERS.”

I try to put two sentences together that make sense. I hope this guy can too. Is it me or do these two sentences contradict each other?

What is the difference between “jump shooting” and “jumper” ?

Its mentalities like these that us real fans have to put up with. Josh is a very good player and gets the job done.

y u hate?

Big Ray

October 28th, 2010
8:01 pm

Actually, those two sentences go together rather well. Expecting anybody and everybody to understand is well… apparently unrealistic.

New blog up soon, y’all.

O'Brien

October 28th, 2010
8:17 pm

I am looking forward to the Magic game tonight. How many calls will Howard get?

And I am looking forward to the John Wall era. I wonder who will be ROY? Will it be Blake Griffin? John Wall? Or somebody else?