Some pre-Grizzlies talk

Hey, folks-

My apologies for not coming to you earlier. I was going to blog last night, then this morning and it’s just been one of those days.

Anyway, loyal blogger Nunna Yo Biznezz gave me a few questions he wanted asked in the locker room.

Here are the ones I was able to ask:

Of Al Horford: Will we see you playing power forward this year? Do you miss playing (and dominating) at that spot like you did in college:

1) “That’s a good question. That’s a good question. I don’t’ think it’s happened this year necessarily. Last year I played more forward with Zaza (Pachulia) in at the 5. I don’t know. We’ll see.”

(I’m guessing you can read into it, but it certainly sounded like he wouldn’t mind playing some minutes there.)

2) “See, in college we really didn’t have a center or a power forward. Me and Joakim (Noah) played both. Coach (Billy Donovan) never said, ‘You’re the forward, you’re the center. We just played. In college, it’s kind of like me and Josh (Smith’s)  situation right now, except that with Joakim, we could switch. He’d guard the center sometimes. Sometimes I would. It just depended. Here, it’s just different.”

To Jamal Crawford: Did the team need you more or did you need the team more?

“I needed the team more. I needed the team more, but I think we can really help each other. I think that that whole playoff streak, they’ll help me get there. (No active player has been in more games and not played in the playoffs than Crawford) And then once we get into the playoffs, I’ll help them.”

(A great answer, and the last line is kind of, ‘Hey, did he just say that?’”)

To Josh Smith: What’s the difference between the Josh Smith of last year and the Josh Smith of this year?

“Just another year where I’m just growing as a player, maturing as a player, knowing how to play and just doing whatever it takes to win.”

(Not the most colorful answer, but honest.)

(I realize I’m opening a can of worms here, but if you have questions you’d like answered, give me a couple and I’ll try to get to the ones I like best.)

A few links:

First, I was reading ESPN’s Daily Dime this morning, which was a column about the merits of the San Antonio Spurs, when I came upon this:

“San Antonio has played only twice against the league’s six heavyweights (Lakers, Nuggets, Celtics, Cavs, Hawks and Magic)”

I imagine those of you who have followed the team far longer than I have must be amused. John Hollinger just puts the Hawks out there as one of the league’s six heavyweights and feels no need to qualify or substantiate it. I imagine that must make some of you giddy, and make others of you want to fire Mike Woodson and trade Joe Johnson, just out of habit. (kidding)

A way for you to save lives and get Hawks tickets (presumably).

This came up when I did a google news search on Hawks and NBA. It’s information on the betting line of tonight’s game. Just thought it was interesting reading and a different perspective, no more, no less. (This has nothing to do with what I wrote about David Stern the other day or my opinion on legalized NBA gambling.)

My quick two cents on Hawks-Grizz: It’s a game the Hawks can lose. They’re riding high, Memphis on paper looks like a win. But Memphis is long and athletic like the Hawks and on a roll. It’s cliche, but if the Hawks take this game lightly, they’ll be in some trouble. Just ask Al Horford.

“I’ve been paying a lot of attention to them. They’re a fun team to watch. They have a lot of athletic guys. They have a real good center and a solid point guard. They’re a team on the rise. They beat Miami in Miami and lost a close one to Boston. We know we have our hands full [Wednesday].”

Lastly, hope you read my story today on Mike Woodson’s contract situation. I don’t have a lot more to add to what I write, but consider this: Rick Sund could well have fired Woodson when he took the GM job two years ago, but kept him. That says something. You could certainly make the case that the Hawks ought to be re-doing his deal right now. Obviously, Woodson thinks so, as do many of you. But Woodson has often said the following about his situation now, that if he does his job, things will take care of themselves. I asked him about how he was basically betting on himself.

His answer: “I’ve always put the chips on me.”

222 comments Add your comment

tbhawksfan

December 16th, 2009
3:43 pm

Don’t have anything to say, but just in case…FIRST !?

Dap01

December 16th, 2009
3:48 pm

Ken: Good article.

Khao$

December 16th, 2009
3:50 pm

This game against Memphis really scares me. We have a deeper bench and experience in our favor. However, their starting five is averaging close to 80 points and they’ve beaten some good teams since they let Iverson go. They have two legit big men. Anyone thinking this is an easy win is sadly mistaken. They are 4-2 in the month of December. We can’t come out flat like we’ve been prone to do. Key matchup:Zach vs. Josh Smith. He’s had Josh’s lunch in recent years. Josh cannot pick up quick fouls.

ILL-logical

December 16th, 2009
3:50 pm

“I’ve always put the chips on me.”

But the house always wins.
Regarding tonight’s game, you are right this could be a loss because:
1.Zack Randolph gives Josh the blues with his heft. Al may be able to do a better job.
2.Rudy Gay is on a roll and he is a load for anyone when he isn’t.
3.The Grizzlies have heft, height and athletic ability across their front line.

If the Hawks can pull this off they will have made a major statement about their seriousness as a bona fida contender in the East.

Westurd

December 16th, 2009
3:54 pm

I would have been first, but it took forever to get through that read.

Memphis will be a problem for us tonight…..Gasol is going to give Al a problem. Hopefully ZaZa can bring some of the Eastern Block intimedation to the young Gasol.

MyView

December 16th, 2009
3:54 pm

KS…I look at betting lines all the time as a way to gauge how the teams are viewed by professionals. For the most part the Hawks get a lot of respect lately. A line of -9.5 against the Grizz shows that there is confidence in the Hawks amongst those that make money gambling. The site that I visit shows where the money is being bet on each game and 56% of bettors are taking the Hawks and laying(giving up) the 9.5. A sign of respect for the Hawks.

Daniel

December 16th, 2009
3:59 pm

Ken- I want you to know that was an excellent blog. You are growing in this job. Schultz spilled the beans that the AJC have hired a new full time beat writer to follow the Hawks. Hey, you can tell us… are you glad to be getting rid of us or was this assignment starting to grow on you?

MyView

December 16th, 2009
4:03 pm

Personally I am not sweating this game. Largely because I know the players are as aware of how good Memphis has been playing lately as I am. I am sensing that the Knicks debacle will be more of a positive in the sense that it reminded the Hawks how quick a relaxed effort can get you beat. They seem to be focused and hungry since. The confidence is starting to show.

When I think back to the Orlando loss, it is starting to appear as though the Hawks relaxed in the second half and a great team took advantage. The Hawks are still new to the powerhouse role and they let the 12 point halftime lead kill their focus. I am no longer wondering if we can beat Orlando. We will split the season series at the least. That only leaves the Cavs?

O'Brien

December 16th, 2009
4:17 pm

Thanks for the blog Ken,

Assuming Marvin is playing tonight, I look forward to seeing what kind of game will Marvin have, and how much will he guard Rudy Gay.

Considering how we lost to the Knicks at home, I dont think the Hawks will look past Memphis. But I think the Grizz height could be an issue. I say go to Josh and Al early on, see if they can pickup some early fouls on Memphis’ front court.

Also, I hope Teague will continue to earn minutes, because he adds a couple things that Bibby doesn’t. Speed, and defensive pressure.

theZaZaguy

December 16th, 2009
4:21 pm

I can’t wait to:
1. Stand at the same time Smoove leaves the ground for a dunk.
2. Yell “ZaZa!” when he comes in
3. Wait for Marc Gasol to go to the foul line, stand up, shift three seats to the left, yell “Hey Gasol”, and use my fingers to shift my Korean eyes up to make them look Chinese. (He was on the Spanish Olympic team that did that in a team picture before going to China).

Melvin

December 16th, 2009
4:21 pm

Ken,

Good blog. Nice touch with the Q&A section… Should be a good game tonight. Hopefully the Hawks will start the game well and take the confidence from the young Grizzy early….

nunna yo biznezz

December 16th, 2009
4:22 pm

hey thanks ken,
i wish u could have gotten to woody with his question,but im satisfied with even just one of them..
and tell the guys thanks for answering them..

and,is there a way we can get in contact with u,off of the ajc if we have info,stories,etc.. for u??

like a direct email or something..
please let me know..
thanks,
nunna yo biznezz

O'Brien

December 16th, 2009
4:24 pm

Ken, whats the latest on Joe Smith?

Couple suggestions for questions, ask Marvin which NBA player he looked up to/patterned his game after when he was growing up.

And ask Woody if he will grow his hair back if the Hawks make it to the Eastern Conference finals (or NBA finals).

Big Ump

December 16th, 2009
4:26 pm

What’s all the talk about Woody? I forgot who post why all the talk about Woody and that we should start A Woody blog. Just being realistic.

jerrywest

December 16th, 2009
4:33 pm

Great blog Ken. Your best so far.

Griz have the 29th ranked defense (Per 100 possession) in the NBA. If the Raptors didn’t have to play the Hawks twice, Griz would have the worst defense. Our bench should dominate their non-existent bench.

Having said that, we must match their energy.

Ken Sugiura

December 16th, 2009
4:36 pm

thanks for all of the love. it means a lot.
O’Brien – Joe Smith will not play tonight. He is possible for Friday, but he could well be out for that one, too.

Funny you should mention Woody’s hair, or lack thereof. He was talking about the clean-shaven look up top just this morning and how he’s come to really like it because he doesn’t have to worry about his hair anymore.

Nunna – no problem. they were good questions, and better answers than I expected.

Daniel – Thanks. I think I’ll kind of miss the blog. Most of what we write, it goes online and into the paper and, in my case, at least, that’s the end of it. Sometimes you’ll get an e-mail, but it’s hard to know what anyone thought. With the blog, 1) there’s give and take, so i can try to answer questions and talk about the Hawks; 2) this is obviously a passionate group that knows a lot about the team, and so it’s great to interact with readers who care about what you have to say or write; 3) it’s not as formal as writing for the newspaper, which I like.
There’s parts I won’t miss, but this is a fun part of the job. thanks for asking.

Benjamin

December 16th, 2009
4:38 pm

Good work, as usual, Ken.

Excellent closing line by Woody, too. I’m not on record as a Woodson fan — still kind of bitter about some of the decisions and non-decisions he’s made at times in the past during games (i.e. not pulling Josh Smith when he was trying to morph into Stephon Marbury, etc.) — but I like the confidence. The team’s certainly playing better than anything we’ve seen in his tenure here this season, too.

Time will tell.

Benjamin

December 16th, 2009
4:40 pm

I have a “real” question for you, Ken, and this is just out of curiousity:

How well do writers and athletes/coaches/members of the team get along? I know that’s kind of an odd question, and you don’t have to “name names” or anything, but are there players or personnel that y’all just find difficult to pull answers from? I’ve always wondered about the behind-the-scenes dynamic you boys at the AJC and other newspaper folk around the country have with athletes and key members of personnel from the teams you cover.

Brad

December 16th, 2009
4:55 pm

Benjamin,

I know your post was for Ken, but there was an interview with Sekou Smith, the previous beat writer, a few years ago where he talks a bit about his relationships with the players, among other things. Click the link below to read it – it’s pretty interesting.

http://www.nba.com/hawks/feature/Interview_With_Sekou_Smith_040506.html

tyger

December 16th, 2009
5:14 pm

Woody deserved to be re-hired and deserves a new contract. He keeps winning – bottom line. Yes, he should’ve won more, so I can see why they didn’t do a long term deal earlier. But he has done a great job since.

I still don’t like his substitution patterns or lack thereof nor his inability to match-up depending upon the opponent. He wins or loses with his starters. If they cant go, he throws in the towel. I don’t like that at all.

The only reason he doesn’t deserve a new contract now is his performance during the Cleveland playoff series last year. He showed no creativity. He threw in the towel. If we are to go further, the coach cant throw in the towel. He’s got to find a way to win – no matter the circumstances. I didn’t see that outta Woody.

I saw it this weekend outta Mike Smith. He didnt have Ryan, Turner or Dahl, but they fought like champions – that’s what I want to see outta Woody. All I saw outta him or mgt. was we were hurt, so we quit.

cp

December 16th, 2009
5:46 pm

This is not a team we can look past. They have good size and are very athletic. The Grizz have been playing well lately so the Hawks need to come out focused.

tyger

December 16th, 2009
6:20 pm

Trades on the horizon…

Keep hearing Marvin/Bibby for Chris Paul.

Anthony Randolph – 6′11, SF w/ handles and game. Not much on defense but would be a serious upgrade over Marvin on the offensive end. I think I would do it. It would lower payroll and upgrade the scoring talent in case JJ leaves.

Blast

December 16th, 2009
6:27 pm

This should be a good game, and fans are right. Hawks cannot take Memphis for granted. Those boys are balling right now. This game will be a good test for Hawks.

jerrywest

December 16th, 2009
6:30 pm

Tyger,

Unrealistic trade for Paul.

If Randolph doesn’t play defense he doesn’t fit us as good as Marvin. He’ll create chemistry issues both sides of the court.

Big Ray

December 16th, 2009
6:32 pm

Great work, Ken. Thought you were really hitting it off, then this comes and now we have to get used to a whole different person! ;)

Heh. The Woody situation is getting a lot more pub than it deserves.

Grizz are gonna be tough tonight. We need to find their pulse and stomp on it. Right away.

C'mon Son!

December 16th, 2009
6:42 pm

Tyger where did you hear that NO might trade CP? And why do you think that is all they would ask for?

vava74

December 16th, 2009
6:50 pm

Ken,
thank you for your extra effort during this ínterim gig. I think it was a job well done and that you were getting the hang of it in spite of the fact that it was clear that you did not have the time to dedicate yourself to it 100%.

Big Ray

December 16th, 2009
6:58 pm

Nunna Yo Biznezz ,

GREAT questions. Game on!

Ramon

December 16th, 2009
7:02 pm

Ken, I would love to know if Larry Drew thinks his stock is on the rise for head coaching positions, with the success the Hawks are having this season?

Big Ray

December 16th, 2009
7:11 pm

Tyger,

Heh. Don’t know where you’re hearing that. Although, I wouldn’t be surprised if CP3 wants outta there if they keep losing when he’s able to come back and play. Dude hates to lose, especially after the success they enjoyed for a couple years.

Benjamin

December 16th, 2009
7:16 pm

Thank you, Brad. I will have to check that out…

Big Ray

December 16th, 2009
7:16 pm

Man! Can anybody dribble behind/between their legs at that speed? JJ can!

Meanwhile on defense, Josh teaches Conley a lesson, and Joe puts Rudy on lock.

Benjamin

December 16th, 2009
7:17 pm

…and the Hornets would not be wise to deal CP for Williams and Bibby. We’d have to throw more into that deal. Marv’s slipped in his growth a good deal, and Bibby is a little creaky these days…

Big Ray

December 16th, 2009
7:17 pm

Did Rudy just get blocked by….gasp….Marvin?

Big Ray

December 16th, 2009
7:18 pm

Hot damn, Joe with a dunk. Better watch that dang Mayo. He can get hot from deep…

Rod from College Park

December 16th, 2009
7:19 pm

Just like I said in the previous blog, Joe will end up guarding Rudy not Marvin.

Rod from College Park

December 16th, 2009
7:22 pm

Please notice that nobody checks Marvin when we our on offense. He stands in the corner wide open and no one one on our team has the confidence to pass to him.

Big Ray

December 16th, 2009
7:23 pm

Smooooooove!

J.J.M.

December 16th, 2009
7:23 pm

dang j smoooove

Rod from College Park

December 16th, 2009
7:24 pm

Notice who checks Rudy. Joe should be playing the 3.

J.J.M.

December 16th, 2009
7:25 pm

Big Ray

December 16th, 2009
7:28 pm

We’re seeing ourselves from two years ago, and we don’t know what to do….

Big Ray

December 16th, 2009
7:29 pm

Joe playing like the all-star he is, Bibby turning the ball over, and Josh blocking everything within reach.

bigdave

December 16th, 2009
7:33 pm

im bout to pass out…

Randolph… early…

Melvin

December 16th, 2009
7:39 pm

Too many turnovers (7) in the 1st qtr. Hawks have to take better care of the ball and clamp down of defense in order to get the lead before the half….

Whats up with Woody playing Randmo for 53 secs in the 1st qtr….

bigdave

December 16th, 2009
7:42 pm

i guess you just make too many mistakes for Woodson Jeff….

Ramon

December 16th, 2009
7:46 pm

Bigdave, he took him out because he had 2 fouls

bigdave

December 16th, 2009
7:50 pm

Ramon… in theory he did…

i think he’s more concerned with the turnover than Teague’s foul count….

bigdave

December 16th, 2009
7:51 pm

horrible shot from Crawford.

terrell barron

December 16th, 2009
7:53 pm

Teague turns it over, gets the staredown and immediately gets pulled. Bibby and JJ turns it over, nothing.