Atlanta Hawks: Parsing some previews

Almost time to tip off. (Curtis Compton/ ccompton@ajc.com)

Almost time to tip off. (Curtis Compton/ ccompton@ajc.com)

No practice for the Hawks today. The AJC Hawks preview is at . . . newsstands . . . today! Run out and buy it! Please?

Meanwhile, here are some previews from around the InterWebs, each with a brief highlight and my comment:

Peachtree Hoops

They previewed the Hawks back on Oct. 12.

THHB says 50-32: “I am sensing change won’t be the magic elixir for playoff excellence, given Joe getting a year older and an inevitable dip in team fortune in regards to injury, but it will be enough for a back-to-back 50 win campaigns and grab the home court once again.”

KW says 52-30: While the mounting injuries are of a major concern to me, I do think that the way this team is being written off is premature. Are they a championship contender? Probably not, but there may be only two or three of those in the Eastern Conference and the Hawks are still right at the top of the rest of the pack. I am going back to back 50 win seasons and a top 4 seed in the conference.”

MC says: Both guys mention injury, and that’s the elephant in the room for the Hawks. Odds are they won’t get through this season in peak health (and isn’t that another reason last season felt like a letdown to some?) and there’s also the matter of L.D.’s approach to practicing them long and hard.

ESPN

Their gang of experts all made a prediction and Atlanta’s average ranking was 5.9 in the East.

Michael Wallace and Tim Legler were most optimistic, picking the Hawks fifth. But Wallace says: “Replacing Mike Woodson with Larry Drew won’t be enough to shake things up and get the Hawks beyond the first round of the playoffs.”

Chris Sheridan was most pessimistic about the Hawks’ chances, picking them No. 8 in the East: “They are still playoff material, no doubt, but they’ll be road kill again if they face Boston, Miami or Orlando in the first round.”

MC says: The Hawks have given no indication they can compete with the Magic so there’s no case to be made there. And I don’t see Atlanta overcoming Boston’s tenacity and toughness in a seven-game series. But, call me crazy, I think they actually match up better with Miami and could give them a series.

Ball Don’t Lie

Forced to make a prediction three months ago, Kelly Dwyer decided the Hawks would finish 48-34. But he sounds pretty optimistic in his blog write-up:

“Nice additions, a cheap but possibly effective hire in Larry Drew, and a step away from former coach Mike Woodson’s stifling “offensive” attack? It would seem that, even after a slow start as everyone gets used to the new boss, the Hawks would eventually fall in line and into that safe middle road. Fewer wins than last season? I just think it’s a product of their surroundings, and that potential slow start. . . .

“This isn’t a bad thing. Under Woodson, these guys always started hot, but topped off. With Drew, the hope is that they’ll be penny-foolish and pound-wise, shuffling their best work toward spring as opposed to peaking in fall.”

MC says: Not sure about the “nice additions” part, though someone with the Hawks reminded me the other day that Josh Powell, Etan Thomas, and Jason Collins are better than what they Hawks have had in those 10-11-12 spots in recent years. So I guess that’s something.

Dwyer makes a good point about the slow start. It’s possible the Hawks will be a less-efficient offensive team this season and the new defensive approach might be best for the long-term but could be ugly in the interim as L.D. tries to get these guys to buy in and their personnel deficiencies aren’t hidden by switches. But being less predictable offensively and defensively might pay off in the playoffs.

SI.com

Ian Thomsen talked to a scout from an opposing team for his take on the Hawks.

Says the scout: “The Hawks are looking through the wrong side of the window of opportunity right now. They’ve hit their ceiling and they can’t go any higher. I want to believe new coach Larry Drew can make a difference because he’s been around, he’s seen so many different things and paid his dues. But Atlanta has some hardheaded guys in that locker room, and it’s at the point where I don’t see much improvement in them anymore.”

MC says: This was a big part of Woody’s problem at the end. No one would say he’s not a strong-willed guy but eventually even he couldn’t get through to this group. L.D. is saying the right things but if guys don’t get the message then at some point it becomes about accountability.

Will L.D. be able to win a battle of wills with these guys? Would he, say, bench Smoove if he keeps taking jumpers or pouting instead of getting back on D? Would he sit J.J. if the isos become a problem again? If he’s really about defense, and defense is about effort, will he decide minutes based on those principles?

SLAM Online

ATL-ien Lang Whitaker posits a best-case/worst-case scenario of 57-60 Ws/something less than 53. Says Lang: “The last few years the Hawks have played with the slimmest of margins of error, and they’ve actually done pretty well, all things considered. This year they’ll again be living on the edge. At least it gives us Hawks fans something to think about.”

MC says: I like the optimism. Really. I’m a skeptical/cynical/hopeless hack so just by the nature of this gig I’m eventually going to pick at the things that can and do go wrong. Fans should look at all the things that can go right. It’s that time of year, blog people. Enjoy it.

MC

95 comments Add your comment

Sope Creek

October 24th, 2010
1:11 pm

Nice set of comments . . . but I think they’re all being optimistic. I think the Hawks go 40-42 this year. My guess is that LD shows to be too much of a players’ coach and the “hard headed” guys on this team tune him out as a continuation of the way they tuned out Woody. It sure seemed that way in the preseason . . . .

So I predict this year to be a big step back . . . and next year is the make or break year for this core. They either decide they want it badly enough to put aside their own egos and peccadillos, or they tank even worse.

BTW, Sund hasn’t proved that he can do much more than tinker so far. He didn’t decide he needed a coaching change based on the merit of Woodson’s accomplishments so as much as he just acceded to the collective willfulness of the core roster. Other than that he’s added some experienced end of bench guys and worked in a redundancy – Jordan Crawford – at shooting guard, perhaps as a hedge against Jamal leaving. But then after watching Jordan at Indiana and Xavier, he’s also exacerbated the willfulness of the players . . . .

*sigh*

Section 303

October 24th, 2010
2:46 pm

I’ll give my prediction: I got the Hawks going 48-34. That will be enough to sneek into the 4th spot. I think the win total will be down because Miami and Washington will be better this year. Also, not sure they will sweep Boston like they did last year.

Where ever they finish the regular season, is where ever they finish the regular season. This team will be judged on their playoff performance. If last year taught me anything, it was that playoffs are where seasons are good, bad, or total busts. The Hawks last year were total busts in the playoffs. I think that is why so many are down on them right now.

The weak effort against the Magic, Joe’s stupid comments, and the crowd booing them off the floor in games 3 and 4 have left a major bad tase in a lot of people’s mouth.

Hawks Fan In New Orleans

October 24th, 2010
2:50 pm

50-32 and a second round ouster – no sweep though. This is of course barring an unforeseen acquisition of a defensive beast and rebounding center.

lewis

October 24th, 2010
2:57 pm

49-33 + 4-2 loss in 2nd round

JeJe

October 24th, 2010
3:13 pm

Ken Strickland from previous blog:

“THE ATLANTA HAWKS SHOULD BE JUDGED BY HOW THEY PERFORM OVERALL AT THE START AND FINISH OF THE “REGULAR SEASON”

No, they should be judged by how they perform in the 2nd round. Boston sucked in the regular season last year…Who cares?

1) Miami is overrated
2) Orlando is still soft and a “sleeper team” (LOL!) and will choke in the playoffs.

Celtics/Lakers in the Finals

Samuel

October 24th, 2010
3:27 pm

46-36 #6 seed and 1st round loss to either Mia,Orl or Bos

STEEL(Formerly VenomSpitter)

October 24th, 2010
3:30 pm

I think I’ll know if LD has what it takes to be a coach if Josh keeps taking jumpers and LD sits his ass down and tells him “your not gonna see the floor until u understand that taking jumpers is hurtiing the team not helping.”

drmaryb (*_*)

October 24th, 2010
3:42 pm

Section 303

You lasted 72 hours, before digging up the dead horse again.
I guess, you just can’t hold your breath that long.

LOL!

Section 303

October 24th, 2010
4:03 pm

drmaryb, wasn’t digging up a dead horse. If you think that those comments aren’t part of the reason some are down/not interested in the Hawks right now, you’re wrong, again. Point was/is that the way the season ended (and Joe’s comments were a big part of the story when the season ended) killed a lot of the good the Hawks did last year.

So, not digging up a dead horse. Making a point. And, all I said were the comments were stupid. That is not something that can be argued, since they were stupid.

bigdave

October 24th, 2010
4:57 pm

nice read MC..

drmaryb (*_*)

October 24th, 2010
5:05 pm

“Celtics/Lakers in the Finals”

This is true.

Section 303

October 24th, 2010
5:07 pm

Let me add this to my prediction…Hawks finish 48-34. They will beat Miami everytime they play in Philips Arena. I made this call when the 3 d-bags decided to join forces and I’m standing by it now. Heat will lose everytime they enter Philips Arena.

drmaryb (*_*)

October 24th, 2010
5:10 pm

doc

Do you think Perkins can come back close to 100% for a guy his size?
If so, by when? Was injured in June 2010 … torn PCl and MCL.

hawks_4_life

October 24th, 2010
5:16 pm

When its all said and done, this is why we play the games. Predictions dont win games……………………GO HAWKS

northcyde

October 24th, 2010
6:33 pm

I will say this again. This team CANNOT start out slow, and expect to make it up at the end, to avoid getting a 5 seed or lower.

We have very winnable road games in November. And while we have a few tough home games in November, we’ll have a good shot to win each of those games.

If this team is a playoff level team, we should have no lower than an 12 – 6 record going into December. If we’re 9 – 9 or below, this team is going to hover around .500 for the rest of the year, because the rest of the schedule isn’t in our favor.

In December, the home schedule is great, but the road schedule is absolutely brutal.

The reason why the Hawks started out fast in past years, is because they took care of business against teams they were supposed to beat. The Hawks don’t need to be foolint around with teams they should be able to beat.

northcyde

October 24th, 2010
7:05 pm

I don’t trust the bench, but I do trust the starters.

People talk about developing the bench, but you can’t leave them out there if they can’t hold leads or if they let decifits get larger. If Drew keeps a short leash on the bench, I’ll say we go 50 – 32.

If he doesn’t, we could lose a few games we would’ve won otherwise.

jtshoopsblog

October 24th, 2010
7:12 pm

No way. the hawks have not reached their ceiling, not by a longshot.

Truth-Se rum

October 24th, 2010
7:14 pm

46-36 Hawks did not improve, made and unnecessary coaching change for an experiment. The same problems that prevented the hawks are still there. Sund did nothing to address hawks weaknesses but created question marks with the Woody lite move.There is still not enough talent here to get past the 2nd round. Add to that the other teams in the league addressed their weakness and in some cases made blockbuster moves.

Unless the hawks make an early/mid season meaningful trade This team finishes in the mid 40’s

See you at the end of the year.

Truth-Se rum

October 24th, 2010
7:15 pm

*an unnecessary

truly1

October 24th, 2010
7:26 pm

I will say the same as last year 53-29 last year we lost a couple that we should not have. we will struggle but get it together at the right time

SWAT Native

October 24th, 2010
8:41 pm

The funny thing is that if you were to roll back the clock each of the past few years you would see the same predictions that the Hawks would slip back, but they always get a little bit better (which you should expect with a team built around guys in their early 20’s). When will they learn?

Chris Sheriden should find another sport to write about. Hockey, maybe?

Clark Kent

October 24th, 2010
8:50 pm

Who cares, basketball is a giant snoozer.

KevinM

October 24th, 2010
8:56 pm

The Hawks better make the 4th seed minimum or its lights out in Round 1 no matter who they play.

For this roster to to get to the 4th seed, they have to finish 3rd in their division. All these goals should be doable even if LD doesn’t man up and make any member of the core accountable this year.

I still wait for a starter to be yanked and replaced because of their poor performance for any length of time. These lopsided losses in the preseason don’t say or mean much, but effort has to be there night in night out going forward. 2-1 after the first week of the regular season.

chimming in

October 24th, 2010
9:17 pm

hawks go 41 and 41

bjrufino

October 24th, 2010
9:52 pm

As an avid hawks fan, I believe the hawks will advance to the Eastern Conference Finals or even in the NBA Finals, GO HAWKS

They will win 55-57 win.

tidog

October 24th, 2010
10:15 pm

No doubt about it, things will be rough out the gate. New coach, new offense, new defense, new player rotation (first ever player rotation).
When the players get comfortable with their roles the new offense and defense, this team should peak come playoffs and won’t be labeled a selfish boring team by the media.

O'Brien

October 24th, 2010
10:30 pm

My prediction is 49-33. We will have the 4th best record in the East, but we will be the 5th seed, because we will have the 3rd best record in our division.

And the NBA says division winners can finish no lower than fourth. However, even if we are the fifth seed, we would still have homecourt in the first round, so I think we will advance to the second round again.

Last season, when the players had an issue, they would go to LD. When they have an issue this season, who will they go to?

I hope they buy in to LD’s system. otherwise, we are looking at a first round exit.

darrell starks

October 24th, 2010
10:53 pm

My prediction 37-45 may be 8 seed in the east.
GO HAWKS!!!!!!!!!!

darrell starks

October 24th, 2010
10:57 pm

Marvin william and teague will determain the hawks faith this year, AND WITH MARVIN NOT IMPROVING HIS GAME WILL HURT THE HAWKS BAD THIS YEAR.
GO HAWKS!!!!!!!!!

darrell starks

October 24th, 2010
11:00 pm

1.HEAT
2.MAGIC
3.CELTICS
4.BULLS
5.BUCKS
6.BOBCATS
7.SIXERS
8.HAWKS OR WIZARDS
GO HAWKS!!!!!!!!!!

Najeh Davenpoop

October 24th, 2010
11:30 pm

“but it will be enough for a back-to-back 50 win campaigns and grab the home court once again.””

50 wins will not get the Hawks home court. In the highly likely event that Miami and Orlando finish higher than the Hawks in the standings, the Hawks can be no higher than the 5th seed. If the Hawks are the 5th seed with 50 wins, the division winner with the worst record has to win fewer than 50 games. I don’t see Boston winning fewer than 50, so unless the Central Division winner wins fewer than 50, the Hawks will not have home court in the first round.

Najeh Davenpoop

October 24th, 2010
11:31 pm

I’m with O’Brien on 49-33. I actually think the Hawks will be better in the playoffs this year than they have been in years past, but the regular season record will not reflect their improvement, since other teams in the conference have drastically improved their personnel.

Swatguy

October 24th, 2010
11:32 pm

The expert pundits have been wrong every year the last 5. We are more veteran than young now. We will be more mature than most teams out there. Josh, Joe, Al, Bibs and Jamal will need to bond tightly. If they do Hawks will play in the ECC unless they draw Orlando in the second round. I say 56-26.

Najeh Davenpoop

October 24th, 2010
11:44 pm

Just so y’all know, unless you think Miami or Orlando will finish with a worse record than the Hawks, the Hawks can’t finish any higher than 5th.

Doesn’t mean they can’t have home court (although I don’t think it will happen) but the 5th seed is the Hawks’ ceiling unless Miami or Orlando majorly underachieves.

Clyde

October 24th, 2010
11:51 pm

42-40 8th seed in the East.

Rufus1

October 25th, 2010
12:16 am

Its Amazing +

The east is tougher, the Celtics are older, but the Hawks young athletic Hawks takes a step back….Really????

Boston added to Grumpy old O’neals, to the oldest roster in the league, but people believe they will atleast as good….Wow!!!

What did Orlando do to improve….Nothing. When you teams wins 50+ games, you don’t want to change much.

The east has gotten tougher but only for the Hawks….. Really? So the Bulls and the Bucks will only have to play the Hawks…..NOT!!!

I am going to tell all of you what the problems is…..No one knows why the Hawks are so good.
They don’t a have a great player.
They don’t play great defense.
They don’t have a great offense.
They don’t have a great PG
They don’t have great size.

THEY JUST WIN!!!! Analysts don’t know how to judge the Hawks, because no one in the league wins like we do…. SO THEY SIMPLY PICK THE HAWKS TO GET WORSE.

If we can win 53 games with all those DEFICIENCIES, what happens when our offense and defense gets better……WE BECOME ELITE!!!!!

Hmmm

October 25th, 2010
12:24 am

Rufus1, EXACTLY!

MsDee

October 25th, 2010
12:37 am

Dito that Rufus1!!

I will probably have the highest prediction here but I truly believe the Hawks will finish 60-22!! Yes, I’m smoking, drinking, swimming in that Kool-aid cause just because we have trouble playing Orlando, doesnt mean other teams has trouble beating them. Our only 2 teams we seem to have problems with are Orlando and OKCity..that’s it. Every other team we have beaten wither in Phillips or on the road. And as the team gets more and more comfortable with this new offense, those WIDE OPEN SHOTS will soon look like layup to us cause we HAVE good shooters on our team, they just weren’t exposed much during previous seasons due to standing around watching Joe and his ISO’s. Joe, Bibby, Jamal, Jordan, & Al Horford(on a good shooting night) can all shoot very well with this offense. That’s why Orlando shooters are very well with their offense cause they are COMFORTABLE AND KNOWS WHERE EVERYONE SHOULD BE FOR AN OPEN SHOT IN THEIR OFFENSE!! But the biggest and main word is COMFORTABLE. Once we get to the point where we are COMFORTABLE with our new offense, all I can say is WATCH OUT ORLANDO, MIAMI, & BOSTON, OH AND OKCITY!!

MsDee

October 25th, 2010
12:44 am

I also wanted to point out that LD knows this team and how defense becomes important to them. The difference between us and Boston is that Boston defense drives their offense which is why Boston has won many titles despite their age. This is the correct way to win games, defense 1st then offense. But unfortunately, the Hawks offense drives their defense and since LD knows this by being with the team for the past 6 years, he wanted to get the Hawks COMFORTABLE with this new offense that can get them open/easy shots for Joe and company. And again, once the Hawks get COMFORTABLE with the offense, their defense will truly rise to the occasion!!

Rufus1

October 25th, 2010
12:50 am

Exactly MS DEE

I think we win atleast 55 games and have no worse than 3rd best record in the east.

Rufus1

October 25th, 2010
12:53 am

How are the Hawks going to be worse, if the offense has already proven we are going get easier shot……..HUH?

Freshfromatl

October 25th, 2010
12:53 am

MsDee pass me the kool-aid please!!!

I too predict the Hawks will be better record-wise and playoff-wise this year!!

Leggo!!!!!

Old School

October 25th, 2010
1:22 am

I am so frustrated! Why can’t we get more coverage of the Hawks? It is obvious we have some passionate fans. We would probably fill the arena with more news coverage. Where is the hype? Come on AJC give us better coverage and more information on our team! This team has been winning the last few years and it gets the least coverage of all.

Hawks Fan In New Orleans

October 25th, 2010
1:47 am

Wish I was in Atlanta to get the season preview edition AJC paper. Ready for Memphis baby!!!!

Big Ray

October 25th, 2010
2:24 am

Injury is indeed the elephant in the room. However, is this not so for any team? What if Boston’s two O’Neals can’t stay healthy? Then how do their brilliant offseason acquisitions look? Ask the Milwaukee Bucks what those injuries can do to you. All the same, we’re not as deep quality-wise as we would like to see. Check that….we’re not even as quality in our STARTING LINEUP as you might like to see. Two positions are still questions: SF and PG.

There are some who say center is a position of question, but if you have viable backups and options, it’s not. Are our backups/options viable?

Like some, I have limited trust in the bench. Here’s my assessment:

Teague – They want him to be good enough to start, and soon. He has the tools. Does he have the mentality? We don’t know.

Jamal – Most of the time, he’ll score. Most of the time, he’ll be a ghost on defense.

Collins – Looked fairly good when on the court in preseason. But will he be a guy that Drew turns to when more size is needed?

Etan – Got anything left? Dude is brutish and strong, but hardly taller than Al. Can he stay healthy and provide productive minutes, or will he be a muscle bound bench fixture?

Jordan Crawford – Only a matter of time before he sees the floor for significant minutes. Sooner is better, but don’t hold your breath. Without defensive improvement, it will be tough to break in. On the flip side, back court injuries could be the key (or a trade of Jamal).

Mo Evans – Depends. Can score, but will gripe about minutes. Has trouble on defense sometimes, and can be foul prone.

Zaza Pachulia – Can score, has good games here and there, and can rebound. Defends by being in the way. Can lay hard fouls. Otherwise, not an enforcer on the glass or in the paint.

Josh Powell – showed some serious moxie in the preseason. Can’t impact the game like J-Smoove does, but then again, few in the league can. A good stand-in down low, and may see more minutes than any other Hawks big man.

Big Ray

October 25th, 2010
2:27 am

If we can win 53 games with all those DEFICIENCIES, what happens when our offense and defense gets better……WE BECOME ELITE!!!!!

Yes…if all else is equal. But all else is NOT equal. Other teams took measures to improve dramatically. And becoming better on offense and defense is a relative term. Right now, Orlando seems able to prove that they are 25 points better than us any time we play. So let’s say we improve to where they only beat us by 10 points every time we play them. Are we then better? I want to win, not “lose better.”

MsDee

October 25th, 2010
3:02 am

@BIg Ray,

Yes, injuries are an elephant in the room but we can only speak for right now…I choose to speak on right now. Yes, the Hawks are a little banged up but if they get better, than they are better!

JoJo the Godfather

October 25th, 2010
6:01 am

The Hawks have a wealth of guards that play questionable defense (Bibby, Teague, Ja Craw, Jo Craw, & Evans)…Until 2 of these guys get replaced with a PG & SF that can play some D, the Hawks will remain good, but not great.

O'Brien

October 25th, 2010
7:27 am

I want to win, not “lose better.” Ray .

So do I. However, I think our ceiling this year is to “lose better” in the second round.

In terms of players, I dont think we have what it takes to get to the ECF, and I dont think we have what it takes mentally either. LD will have his work cut out for him.

dukester

October 25th, 2010
7:39 am

I say 50 wins. I mean it all hinges on Marvin he is really only the unknown talent on this team. Or maybe he is what he is. But we all seem to think he can be more than what he showed u so far. I would be happy if he could give us 10pts and rebounds at this point. If we could get that out of him we could win 53+.