While wrapping up his positional rankings, Kelly Dwyer at Ball Don’t Lie tabbed Al as No. 4 among centers. Now that Dwyer has completed his rankings, it’s a good time to take stock of his perspective on the Hawks and what that might mean for 2010-11.
You can quibble with the exact position Dwyer puts Atlanta players on his list but I don’t think you’d get much argument if you said J.J., Josh and Al are all top 10 players at their position and Jamal is a top 15 shooting guard (and top 2 or 3 among bench players). That’s significant talent and it’s important to remember as a quiet summer has (understandably) led to a focus on what the Hawks lack.
It may be difficult to look at a roster with the same rotation as last season and imagine how Atlanta can be significantly better. But the flip side of that stability is that the Hawks can reasonably expect to be good at many the same things this season as they were last season
The Hawks were a very efficient offensive team in 2009-10. J.J. and Jamal are great individual offensive talents. Al and Josh are efficient scorers and each has at least one superlative offensive trait for big men–the midrange jumper for Al, passing ability for Josh.
The Hawks were a good offensive rebounding team, and Al and Josh figure to keep that trend going. Atlanta wasn’t such a good defensive rebounding team but perhaps less switches helps in that area even if it doesn’t solve the problems still lurking on the perimeter.
The Hawks were a low-turnover team last season. Yes, L.D.’s move to a motion offense is likely to result in more turnovers but at least the players are already well-drilled in a culture that disdains giving the ball away so perhaps the dip in that area won’t be drastic. Scoring more efficiently in transition also can help offset any increase in turnovers.
None of those strengths speaks to defense, of course, and it’s no secret that’s going to be a key. The Hawks were middle of the pack by most defensive measures. Yet they do have some individual defensive talent in Josh, Al, J.J., Marvin and Teague. Their problem was attitude and effort, not physical talent, so the tools are there if L.D. and his staff can get this group to defend until they are “uncomfortable,” as Al put it.
So there is your dose of optimism for the weekend, blog people.
– THHBis counting down the greatest Hawks of all time at Peachtree Hoops.
– Woody’s daughters will play volleyball for Tech this season after transferring.
– Hawks radio guy Dennis Scott is a judge for a BBQ sides contest. As a big proponent for side dishes bring just as important as the Q, I want to know how I can get in on that. You know, other than by being a solid NBA player for 10 years.