Atlanta Hawks: Brighter future for Hawks in ESPN.com rankings

In a few short weeks the Hawks transitioned from a good-but-not-great team with no financial flexibility to a franchise that can clear gops of cap space and has a long-term plan.

No surprise, then, that the Hawks moved up in Chad Ford and John Hollinger’s latest future power rankings at ESPN.com (Insider). The rankings are Ford and Hollinger’s attempt to project the on-court success for the 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons.

The Hawks improved from No. 19 to No. 15 largely on the strength of their dramatically improved salary-cap situation. That development moved Atlanta’s “money” ranking (worth as much as 200 points) from No. 26th to No.1 Ford and Hollinger noted this “25-place jump was the largest of any team in any category.”

That was offset by Atlanta’s league-high drop in the “players” ranking (600 points), down to 23rd from 12th. Ford and Hollinger dock the Hawks not just for the talent disparity in the Joe Johnson deal but also because Josh Smith is in the last year of his contract. The authors opine that “[Al] Horford is the only key player who is both signed [long term] and guaranteed to make an impact.”

The Hawks rank No. 13 in the “management” category (200 points), up from No. 17 in the previous rankings. Ford and Hollinger give Danny Ferry high marks for both his tenure as Cleveland GM and his initial moves with the Hawks.

Atlanta ranks No. 14 in the “market” category (100 points), up one spot. The considerations: “Appeal to future acquisitions based on team quality, franchise reputation, city’s desirability as a destination, market size, taxes, business and entertainment opportunities, arena quality, fans.”

Finally, Ford and Hollinger place the Hawks No. 13 in the “draft” rankings (100 points), up from No. 19. That’s based on future draft picks and draft positioning.

The teams ranked ahead of the Hawks in the overall rankings, in order: Heat, Thunder, Lakers, Jazz, Pacers, Mavericks, Nuggets, Bulls, Spurs, Celtics, Hornets, Cavaliers, Rockets, Nets.

(Note to blog people: Please respect the paywall and refrain from reproducing substantial portions of the ESPN.com link.)

Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat
Follow @ajchawks on Twitter.

464 comments Add your comment

Balance Is key

August 20th, 2012
11:22 pm

Not finished yet…

Balance Is key

August 20th, 2012
11:23 pm

They just need to work harder and we need Thib-like team defense concepts.

Balance Is key

August 20th, 2012
11:24 pm

All Bruce Bowen did war cause havoc on the defensive end and make 3pt field goals on offense.

Slimjr

August 20th, 2012
11:25 pm

For D12 sake I hope he gets his act together[grow up] and get it done…He could end up being one the greats someday doc?

Balance Is key

August 20th, 2012
11:25 pm

Korver and Morrow are two of the greatest 3pt shooters in NBA History (Look it up) They have put up crazy numbers during some seasons that make what JJ did that one year with Nash in Phoenix look really average.

Balance Is key

August 20th, 2012
11:26 pm

What I’m trying to say is…..Marvin was an average defender. Good rebounder, but horrible at isolation D. and you would normally get a (1 for 5) or (2 for 5) night from 3 for Marv. With Korver and Morrow (3 for 5) will most likely be an average night and 4/5 is a good night. You can’t leave them alone which will open things up for our PG/SG Quartet of Teague/Harris Lou/Jenkins. Opposing bigs will then leave Smoove/Al open trying to stop Teague/Harris from getting to the rim.

I can live with our opponents hitting contested Jumpers over Korver/Morrow. All they have to do is keep their man in front of them at all times which should give Al/Smoove enough time to help out if need be. I’m more concerned with paint points by the opposition than I am with them hitting jumpers. We can out gun anybody and more than likely our shooting prowess will draw other teams into a run n’ gun match which, unless you’re Miami or OKC, should be to our advantage.

Did you know that other than that Season with PHX, Joe’s second highest 3pt FG% was last season at 38%? I don’t know about you, but I recall JJ laying bricks from downtown last season…lots of em’.

Our offense will run smoother with JJ out of the picture because he, along with Marvin really didn’t fit. In our offense, you need a quick trigger to get those shots off of screens; which is basically what we’ve brought in. People who make quick and productive decisions with the basketball…something JJ wasn’t a fan of. In PHX he spotted up yeah, but he got his fair share of ISOS when he ran the PG spot whenever Nash took a breather. The points will be spread and at 18ppg all of the pieces we acquired really weren’t that far off from Joe’s production point wise. Not to mention that Teague/Harris/Lou get to the foul line at a higher clip than JJ. Marvin did but he wasn’t aggressive. Al/Smoove both get to the line frequently; our team efficiency will likely rise.

A lot of PPL look at Joes PPG game decrease and say he’s losing his game. Not really, it was a product of the SYSTEM (Mainly catch and shoot) which is how it was in PHX; more efficiency and less PPG. If you want to feed Joe ISOS all day like Woody he will more than likely shoot right back up to the 22-23 PPG range. I also like to think that Joe’s PPG decrease was also a function of having a better back-court mate in Teague compared to years past.

Balance Is key

August 20th, 2012
11:30 pm

I honestly think Pape Sy could be the next Bruce Bowen type player. But we don’t really develop young talent so…

doc

August 20th, 2012
11:35 pm

slimj dont know if hd12 can be in the class of some of the centers i grew up with but he should be the best of his era. the rest is up to him, he slipped on his own banana peel and hurt his back. now he has to bow it up and carry kobe on it or he wont hear the end of it. could be good hollywood theatre.

Slimjr

August 20th, 2012
11:36 pm

I believe Ken S. is onto something wonderful describing these new looking Hawks! Run and gun man!

I just hope Larry Leisure can keep up for a change plus hold himself and the players accountable?

Can a leopard change his spots? Hmmmm

Slimjr

August 20th, 2012
11:38 pm

TNT=Drama[NBA that is]!

Slimjr

August 20th, 2012
11:41 pm

doc a little humility goes a long way..D12 should try it, he may like the results?

doc

August 20th, 2012
11:47 pm

i honestly think pape sy is mario west redoux and should never be allowed on the nba court ever.

Balance Is key

August 21st, 2012
12:10 am

doc, can’t really argue with you there. I just never felt Pape got a fair shot. Mario West had a clear and obvious ceiling. I don’t get that sense with Pape. He’s 6”7 225 with leaping abillity and was forced to play PG by LD (I still don’t understand that one). He really didn’t seem to get a lot of mins in summer league either for some reason. But I guess if he was cream he would have risen to the top. Kinda like Lou Will. In his rookie season Philly sent him down to the D-League and he ripped them to shreds (27ppg which happens to be his High School average). Only God knows how badly Lou would have abused those college kids if he had chosen to go to UGA instead of jumping straight to the pros.

doc

August 21st, 2012
12:15 am

pape cant even make team france is the obvious clear indication of what he has now. he was not well thought of in france or euro league land and we got him on a silly notion that he had promise. oddly enough as cash strapped as this organization is they actually paid to get him over here, he hurts his back to boot, we play him out of position like we did another famous frenchman …. on and on. ket us move to the era of kiss principle of nba management.

Slimjr

August 21st, 2012
12:16 am

We need Pietrus to give Joe fits.

Also like Gerald Green at 6′7 with his 50 inch vert! He plays tenacious defense and has an explosive 1st step! Plus 3 pt. range on his jump shot[ not a set shot]..

Slimjr

August 21st, 2012
12:18 am

pape cant shoot the rock as a guard….Next…

vava74

August 21st, 2012
3:36 am

AJ,

JJ withdrew from the USA roster voluntarily. Not saying that he would have continued to be selected but Colangelo and Coach K had him on the roster.

Ken,

I distinctly remember JJ defending Wall, Rose, Deron, Wade, … In crucial possessions and getting the stops we needed to pull out wins.

We have no one who can be on the floor able to do that AND score unassisted.

Let’s be realistic JJ is a top 5 SG in this league whose skill set was poorly used by our coaching staff.

Ray Allen was the highest paid player in Seattle and that did not meant that he went ISO all the time to close games. There are other examples.

JJ should have been used in crunch time as a decoy and a catch and shoot player AND if the play for a clean catch and shoot failed he had the skill to go one on one against a less settled defense.

What is beyond him is to go one on one on crunch time ALL possessions and with the defense completely set on stopping him.

The bottom line is that with a quality coach this core could have gone waaaay beyond.

If we had hired Thibs we would have been in the ECF easily.

Just Joe

August 21st, 2012
6:04 am

I didn’t think Pape Sy was from France, that’s just where he plays professionally.

Cleveland supposedly has a 3-yr, $10M+/- deal waiting on Gee to sign closer to training camp. Most are saying its a done deal. Very similar to Gerald Green’s deal with the Pacers.

Please try to imagine Korver/Morrow forcing Lebron, Melo, and Pierce to shoot jumpers. They will be abused by the better small forwards in the East. It’s been 7 years since Korver was a starter, and he only started half of his team’s games that year. Morrow has never been a starter for a full year, starting in less than half of his professional games. These guys are “shooters off the bench” and should not be asked to fill a starter’s role.

vava74

August 21st, 2012
7:11 am

Ken/SteveW,

There is no reason for us NOT TO BE CONCERNED with our smallish line up.

Here is an article on MIL’s backcourt:

http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nba-ball-dont-lie/brandon-jennings-monta-ellis-bucks-playoffs-170234236–nba.html

A small sample for the lazy:

“In sum, teams playing the Bucks feasted when Jennings and Ellis shared the court, scoring an average of 107.7 points per 100 possessions of floor time, more than five points-per-100 below Milwaukee’s season defensive mark, according to NBA.com’s metrics. To put things in perspective, only one team put up defensive numbers that inept over the course of the full 2011-12 season — when Jennings and Ellis shared the backcourt, the Bucks ceased being a slightly-worse-than-average defensive team and became the Charlotte Bobcats (107.8-per-100 allowed).”

I will grant you that Teague is a more talented defender than Jennings and takes better care of the rock, but within your logic, Jennings and Ellis’ advantage on offense should overcome that.

The reality is that it didn’t from a statistical point of view.

From the point of view of their record, they did go 12-9 with that back court, but of those 21 games, 12 were against non-playoff teams CHA (twice), POR (twice), CLE (twice), WAS (twice), GSW, DET, NJN and TOR.

So…

vava74

August 21st, 2012
7:52 am

Just Joe,

Sy was born in France from a Senegalese family.

Senegal was french colony, so there are many immigrants in France from Senegal.

Just Joe

August 21st, 2012
8:32 am

Thanks Vava74. I wasn’t aware of Pape’s background.

vava74

August 21st, 2012
9:53 am

Just Joe,

Wikipedia, for this kind of info, is a pretty decent resource.

KevinM

August 21st, 2012
10:35 am

Why would Joe not want to be part of Team USA?

Pape Sy on a NBA roster……really? I haven’t seen him do anything close to Mario West.

Ken Strickland

August 21st, 2012
10:44 am

VALVA74-Our potential starting backcourt might not be as tall or as big as it was with 6′8″JJ at SG and 6′4″ Hinrich at PG. However, it can certainly be as tall and as big as it was with Hinrich at SG along with Teague. 6′5″ AMorrow is 1″ taller than Hinrich, and 6′4″ JJenkins is the same height. You’re assuming LD will automatically start 6′1″LWilliams or 6′2″ DHarris next to Teague, but that’s nowhere near an automatic assumption.

The fate of this yrs team rests in the hands of DFerry, as well as LDrew and his staff. If Ferry is able to acquire the type of SF he said that he wanted, this starting lineup will be solid. You mentioned how JJ provided solid INDIVIDUAL DEF and stopped Walls, Rose, Deron, and Wade, and I won’t question that one bit. But how many times did you see a single Bulls starter do what you just described JJ did, and they were the NBAs 2nd ranked overall DEF?

Do you think any of our starters, or potential starters, expecially our Bigs, are as much as a DEF liability as Boozer, and wasn’t KKorver also on last yrs Bulls team? TEAM DEF is the key to us improving defensively. You’ve got to stop thinking that INDIVIDUAL DEF is the only way to play good DEF. If you look at the top DEFs in the Eastern Conference, you’ll see that most of them employ the TEAM DEF concept(HEAT, BULLS, CELTICS). Nobody provides better help(TEAM)DEF than Miami’s DWade and Lebron.

One more thing. Size can be overrated. We had very good size sitting on our bench last yr, with 2 big, strong 7′ centers(Collins & Dampier), and how much of an overall impact did they have? The Miami Heat started two 6′8″ forwards, a 6′2″ PG(MChalmers)and a 6′4″ SG(DWade), and backed them up with another 6′2″ combo guard(NCole). I’m not even certain they even had a 7′ player on their entire roster, yet they’re the NBAs 2011-12 champions?

With Ferry in charge, and with his stated committment to developing young players and draft picks, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit to see JJenkins and AMorrow get a lot of mins. This would be a radical departure from the organizations traditional approach of allowing its HCs to totally ignore the development of its rookie backcourt players.

Ferry has stated repeatedly that his plan is designed for the future of the Hawks, not the present. Therefore, that’s why he hasn’t entertained any trade talks that would send JSmith or AHorford to LA for PGasol, who’s over 30yrs old. DHarris is entering his 9th season, while AMorrow his 4th. That would make Morrow more valuable to Ferry and his long term plan.

Of the 8 players Ferry acquired from 3 trades and 1 FA signing, I see him keeping LWilliams, AMorrow, and possibly JPetro. Teague and Josh will be resigned, and maybe Zaza.

KevinM

August 21st, 2012
11:32 am

Bleacher report gave a list of the 50 worse NBA players in Jan. and some of the notables:

Petro
Collins / Radmanovic / Stackhouse
Solomon Jones / Shellhead / Ivey

We have a history of being linked to these types of players.

Others: Oden / Milicic / Jianlian / Thabeet / Telfair / Jeffries

I would rather we go with youth than aging vets on a last hurrah. And its amazing to think that 7 guys from last year’s roster will be on another NBA roster:

JJ / Marvin / Hinrich / Stack / Green / VRad / Collins

Now, if only T-Mac and Damp can get one more hurrah?

KevinM

August 21st, 2012
12:02 pm

Josh speaking to Slam re: his Adidas relationship, the fans of Atlanta, and his shoot in Philips with ‘Ghost 2′:

http://www.slamonline.com/online/kicks/2012/08/josh-smith-ghost-town/

Is Josh about to become the face of this franchise?

hawkfan335

August 21st, 2012
12:03 pm

Patrick Ewing might be a good addition as an assistant coach or Paul Silas.

vava74

August 21st, 2012
12:34 pm

Ken,

Any reference to how small was MIA’s line up is moot. They had Lebron (standing at 6′8” but able to muscle out anyone in the league) and Wade (who is 6′4” but plays like he is 6′8”), two of the top #10 players in the league, plus a heavier Bosh who is 7′0” and played the C slot for significant stretches.

We don’t have nothing similar to compensate the lack of size.

Also, you talk about Hinrich. Hinrich may be only 6′4” but he always played taller, being in the best efficient defending SF’s throughout the league.

You cannot company a heady 6′4” with a rookie known for his defensive deficiencies and a guy who, although is 6′5” (Morrow) is a string bean and not an adept of defense.

You can’t juggle numbers left and right to make your wishes materialize.

We are SMALLER and WORSE defensively and that cannot be compensated by pace and offense just like the article on the Bucks tells us clearly.

Defensively, with Jennings and Ellis the Bucks became the Bobcats and there is nothing that you can say about this roster which overrules the fact that detaches it from this pretty solid example.

doc

August 21st, 2012
12:41 pm

heard only a small bit but danny ferry talking fairly open on 790 early am show. might be in library to listen on-line.

steven a smith

August 21st, 2012
12:46 pm

2012-2013 Atlanta Hawks Roster

Center- Zsa Zsa Pachulia
Power Forward-Al Horford
Small Forward-Josh Smith
Shooting Guard-Lou Williams
Point Guard-Jeff Teague

Best Possible starting “5″

KevinM

August 21st, 2012
12:46 pm

Note to Danny: need to invite Josh Harrellson to camp before he gets picked up elsewhere. Does Petro have a buyout? Is Ivan a lock to return?

Ken Strickland

August 21st, 2012
12:51 pm

VALVA74-We have several players that play bigger and taller than their height. Josh certainly plays bigger than his size and height, and so does Horford, Teague, and IJohnson. Now JJ, on the other hand, didn’t play as big as his size or height. Actually, you’ve proven my point by indicating that there are ways to compensate for a lack of height and/or size.

Being so called undersized doesn’t automatically indicate a liability, as proven by Miami’s smallish starting linup, and the Bad Boy Pistons’ undersized 3 guard rotation or Dumars, Thomas, and Johnson. JJ definitely had the size and height to be a SF and SG, but it didn’t help him as a rebounder, shot blocker, penetrator, or finisher at the rim. He simply lacked athleticism, plus he was a vertical jumper, just like Marvin and Dominique Wilkins.

O'Brien

August 21st, 2012
12:51 pm

vava,

Co-sign. Another example was Monta Ellis and Steph Curry. Those guys can light it up on offense, but it isn’t enough to make up for the lack of defense (both individually, and team wide).

Ken S,

I agree that team defense is important. But nothing in LD’s history suggests he knows how to coach good team defense. If this was football, he would be the offensive co-ordinator, so great team defense is not his forte. So the Hawks would have to find an assistant HC who is known for getting his guys to play defense.

steven a smith

August 21st, 2012
12:52 pm

Hawks Bench-PG-Devin Harris SG-John Jenkins/Anthony Morrow
SF-DeShawn Stephenson/Kyle Korver
PF-Ivan Johnson/Jordan Williams/Keith Benson
C–Johan Petro

Slimjr

August 21st, 2012
1:31 pm

doc, heard some of the Danny Ferry interview this am on 790 the zone.

He was asked point blank about the D12 negotiations with the Hawks. All he would say is that the new Orlando GM did not want to trade D12 to a divisional rival so thats why the trade with the Hawks stalled…From the Horses mouth..Of course Danny would not reveal who he offered to trade for D12..

Dummy..Orlando will be a non mother freaking factor for a while. Dummy.He passed on a much better deal from the Hawks than what he received from the Lakers..Dummy..

Slimjr

August 21st, 2012
1:38 pm

Poor Hawks get no love..Only 6 Nationally televised games out of 82? Unbelievable!!!! Unacceptable!!!!

One of them in the Garden vs Woody and his Knickerbockers on January 27th at 6:30pm on ESPN!! Nice!

Slimjr

August 21st, 2012
1:41 pm

Hawks are not must see TV so it makes sense…Yes?

Ken Strickland

August 21st, 2012
1:43 pm

OBRIEN-Nothing in Popovich’s history suggested he’d be able to switch to the uptempo fast breaking style that Ferry saw them do the last couple of yrs. Sometimes we’re too quick to pass judgement on a player or HCs ability to adjust to certain situations.

While LD might be reluctant to make any drastic changes, the presence of DFerry will likely change all of that. As much as some might what to believe LD is as stubborn, defiant, and inflexible as Woodson was when the ASG gave him a playoff mandate, I just don’t believe that. He might not successfully make the transition, but it won’t be due to a lack of effort.

Slimjr

August 21st, 2012
1:44 pm

Prediction: IF Woody wins 60 plus games, he will be the coach of the year! If he goes 18-6 every 24 some odd games it will be a no brainer indeed.

Ken Strickland

August 21st, 2012
2:03 pm

SLIMJR-Let’s face it, last yrs Hawks, with JJ, Marvin, and Hinrich, were often difficult for even us Hawks fans to watch. You can’t expect us to become a team that other NBA fans will want to see until we field a team, and play a style of ball, that Hawk fans will want to see. All indications are that DFerry is putting together a team that might fit that criteria.

doc

August 21st, 2012
2:04 pm

slimj maybe we wouldnt include a sign and trade of mr kryptonite himself, jason “twin” collins!

that would surely be a deal breaker. heh heh

vava74

August 21st, 2012
2:18 pm

Ken,

Dumars was one of the best defenders of his generation. He was short, but had the bulk, the smarts and the willingness to play lock on D.

O'Brien

August 21st, 2012
2:25 pm

Ken S,

Poppovich is in his 16th season as a HC with the Spurs, and he spent 4 years prior to that as Larry Brown’s top assistant. LD is about to enter his 3rd year as a HC, and does not have the foundation (or players) that Poppovich has. That makes a big difference when it comes to making adjustments.

Can LD emphasize defense more? Sure. But I don’t expect the Hawks to be better defensively, because they don’t have the scheme, the players, or the right coach to do so.

Fundamentals

August 21st, 2012
2:34 pm

I think LD knows he’ll have to mold his system to fit his now highly active and influential GM if he wants a job. He can’t play scared like Woody did, he’s got to make the adjustment or he’s outta here.

I for one like the changes. We have the flexibility to sign or trade for a good SF wing defender. I like our new ability to consistenly penetrate and also shoot the jumpers. Smoove will now be relegated to the block due to our abundance of shooters and Al can pick and pop/roll with all the penetration. If we move Smoove to SF and start ZaZa we solve our wing problem short term while giving Petro and Williams some run to see how they fit in short term. I for one think Petro can be an energy guy. He’s done it against us several times. Williams I’m unsure, but he has size?

To me it seems everyone will need to step it up because they know Ferry will have them stepping out IMMEDIATELY regardles of their contract situation or “importance” to the team. Ferry wants a unit that can gel and play his style of basketball. I don’t seeing him stop the madness till he gets it. Boom or Bust, they guys making changes we can at least be excited about seeing how players respond.

Essentially makes it a contract year for every player on our team. Thank you DF!

Grandad

August 21st, 2012
3:50 pm

Lester Conner is essentially our Hawks Defensive Coordinator;
therefore, he is in charge of the Hwks def game planning.
Actually, Conner is a pretty good and well respected coach.
Methinks he was a good hire [for LD] and quite possibly
is the reason LD is still employed.

Conner employs a multiple system; not rigid unlike Wdsn.
Also, Conner tends to employ match-ups very well,
exploiying our strong suits while hiding potential weaknesses.

Before everyone jumps on my case:
LD`s won / loss record [reg season] is 20 games above .500
over his 1st two seasons.
I do not think he did it with smoke and mirroes;
I think LC [Conner] did it with defense.

Ken Strickland

August 21st, 2012
3:51 pm

OBRIEN-No matter how much experience Pop has, or who he coached with or under, he’s known traditionally for his slow it down precision half court OFF, as is LBrown. Again, there’s nothing in his past, or in his training, that would suggest he could or would switch to a fastbreaking uptempo style of OFF, but he did. If he can successfully do it after yrs of outstanding success using a totally different style, why is it so hard to believe LDrew can do it?

VALVA74-I totally agree with everything you said about Joe Dumars. However, your comments only prove that there are other factors at play other than height, or the lack thereof, that contributes to being a solid defender or OFF player. Stop worrying about our lack of ideal height, because it’s not going to change anything.

We’ll have to go into battle with what we have, unless Ferry orchestrates another trade or trades to change things. Either way, we’ll most likely end up with 6′2″ Teague, 6′1″ LWilliams, and 6′4″ JJenkins as keybackcourt players.

Sometimes there are simply players that can’t be stopped, regardless of size and height. What you try to do in those instances is limit, restrict, contain, or neutralize what they do best. One way to neutralize a seemingly unstoppable player is to limit the effectiveness of his strengths, and have your player attack his weaknesses.

KKorver is never going to come close to stopping a player like LeBron James. However, he can neutralize him offensively by utilizing his superior long range shooting ability to keep him out on the perimeter, which eliminates his effectiveness as a premier help defender. You do the same thing with Korver defensively that you’d do with most defenders trying to defend LeBron, you give him help.

Ken Strickland

August 21st, 2012
3:59 pm

OBRIEN-I don’t think the Hawks have to improve defensively, since we finished 6th in total DEF last yr. If we can maintain a simular position as a top 10 DEF team, the OFF impovement is where we’ll see our major improvement.

Grandad

August 21st, 2012
4:01 pm

-notes-

* Our roster is built to be a better Defensive team than Offense.

* Offensively, we are built to be a better than average to great
perimeter / outside shooting team [1st].
Which should / will open up the middle and or the inside.
** Think … Outside – In

* To Run:
” a team must acquire the ball ”
(1) by Rebound
(2) by steal or turnover
**[e g; Defense note # 1]-&-(I consider rebounding part of defense)

Ken Strickland

August 21st, 2012
4:07 pm

Geemack

August 21st, 2012
4:26 pm

I say start Korver at the 2, Smith at the 3, Horford at the 4, and Zaza at the 5. Come off the bench with Williams, Stevenson, & Marrow, Ivan Jonhson as back ups.

The most interesting thing about the Hawks is they have a trade exception, a 9 millions dollar expiring contract (Harris) and cap space. The Hawks need a Superstar.