Hawks not getting a lot of love from Vegas or ‘experts’

Mike Woodson is smiling. He clearly doesn't read Bodog.com. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Mike Woodson is smiling. He clearly doesn't read Bodog.com. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

After an offseason that saw the Hawks keep their three best free agents (Mike Bibby, Marvin Williams, Zaza Pachulia), strengthen their bench (Jamal Crawford, Joe Smith, Jason Collins), eliminate both a punchline (Limpy Claxton) and a draft mistake  (Acie Law), and draft a promising guard (Jeff Teague), optimism surrounding the franchise seems near an all-time high.

So here’s my question: Is everybody else seeing something we’re not?

The Hawks won one playoff round last season. How many will they win in 2009-10?

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By now, you’ve might’ve heard that several national media outlets have projected the Hawks this season to finish on par or even below last season’s results. Actually, I have yet to find one that has them either: 1) winning more games, or, 2) winning more than one playoff round.

This hit home a little harder Thursday night. I received an email from Bodog.com, an online sportsbook, which does a pretty good job accurately reflecting the feelings in Las Vegas (and I’m still waiting for at least one hotel-casino magnate there to say: “You know. We really blew it with those odds. I think I’m just going to build a nice little Best Western with a coffee shop over here.”).

According to some of Bodog’s prop bets, the over/under on the Hawks’ win total is 44.5, which is a step back from last season’s 47.

The “dis” factor doesn’t end there. Some examples:

First coach to be fired: The Hawks’ Mike Woodson is 3-1. That ties him with Chicago’s Vinny Del Negro as the No. 2 favorite — barely behind the leader, Lawrence Frank (9-5). Not sure how that affects contract extension talks.

♦ Southeast Division: Hawks are 15-2 to win the division, which is third behind Orlando (1-4) and Miami (13-2), whom the Hawks beat in the playoffs last season, and they’re barely ahead of fourth-rated Washington (10-1). Looking for a longshot? Charlotte is 55-1.

♦ Eastern Conference: Hawks are 20-1 to win the conference title, which is tied with Chicago, Detroit and Miami for a DISTANT fourth behind Cleveland (5-4), Boston (2-1) and Orlando (3-1).

NBA title: Hawks are 45-1 to win it, which ranks tied for 11th. (Lakers are favorites at 2-1.)

A few other observations follow.

The Sporting News has been previewing each team, one per day, backwards from No. 30. The Hawks check in at No. 12 overall and will rank only sixth in the East, behind — in uncertain order as of today — Cleveland, Boston, Orlando, Washington and, yikes, even Toronto.

ESPN had a panel of 10 each predict standings. Most have the Hawks fourth in the East. Once exception is Chris Sheridan, who tabbed them for seventh. His analysis: “Mike Bibby didn’t look like he had a lot left in the tank last season. I was surprised they re-signed him and thought Andre Miller would have been a better fit. Joe Johnson is entering a contract year. And newcomer Jamal Crawford likes to put up 20 shots a night. Hmmm.”

Sports Illustrated picks the Hawks to finish fifth in the East. An excerpt from an unnamed scout: “I like their signings of Joe Smith and Jason Collins because they needed
size off the bench. Those are moves a contender would make, and moves the Hawks didn’t make in the past.

♦ ♦ ♦

Other odds:

♦ Georgia Tech is 7-1 to win the ACC championship (regular season), which ranks third behind North Carolina (3-2) and Duke (5-2). The Jackets are 35-1 to win the Final Four.

♦ Georgia is 30-1 (last among six teams) to win the SEC East title. (Kentucky is 1-8.) The Bulldogs are 150-1 to win the national title.

♦ ♦ ♦

So there you have it. Do you think the Hawks will be better, worse or the same? You can comment below and I’ve got a poll going.

112 comments Add your comment

Freddy

October 23rd, 2009
11:31 am

JacketsTN

October 23rd, 2009
11:34 am

JacketsTN

October 23rd, 2009
11:34 am

EW

October 23rd, 2009
11:34 am

Who cares what Vegas thinks! Take the over on wins and slap em in the face with all your money.

Marcus

October 23rd, 2009
11:35 am

I hope we gets ta whoopin’ on all of the naysayers and doomsdayers. ON paper, by far, this is the best team we have had in probably a decade…and outside of Bibby (oldest starter), the prospects of declined performance seems over-emphasized by the “experts”.
When the Hawks get to the Eastern Conf. finals and Falcons win the SB, looks like ESPN will have to pony up money for the domain name ESPN-ATL .. ha-ha.

Marcus

October 23rd, 2009
11:36 am

jim

October 23rd, 2009
11:38 am

-130 odds translates to betting $1.30 to win $1.00, not the other way around

dap01

October 23rd, 2009
11:40 am

We lost to Cleveland in the 2nd round last year. Marvin was hurt, JJ was hurt and Al was hurt.

This year we add JC, JS and JC. We are better at rebounding, penetrating, scoring and defense. Our team is deeper and has continuity and unity. All of our core can and will be better this year.

We will improve from our 47 win season and we will be better, fresher, deeper and more diversified in the playoffs.

That does not sound like 5th or 6th in the east.

HAWKSFAN4LIFE

October 23rd, 2009
11:48 am

I agree that the Bibby signing was alittle shocking to me too… He did look horrible deffensively in the playoffs… but he can still shoot.. but with our new and improved bench. I feel real confident in this teams ability to advance to the conference finals.. so go hawks

Leek

October 23rd, 2009
11:49 am

We like to be underdogs they never predict us to when so when we SHOCK THE WORLD don’t be suprised.

Marcus

October 23rd, 2009
11:50 am

the biggest mystery is why a lot of pundits feel WSH is expected to leapfrog us in the East just because of the return of Agent 0 and Brendan Haywood. That is what I don’t get.

Bryan G.

October 23rd, 2009
11:51 am

The bodog odds mean that the Hawks are MORE likely to win “over” than “under”. Not that big of a diss.

Also, though, the Hawks really didn’t do anything that makes me think “Man, they have a chance to compete with Cleveland, Boston, or Orlando.” They really just stayed the course. I’m not sure that’s quite good enough yet.

Sonny Clusters

October 23rd, 2009
11:57 am

We know this is a basketball blog today but we was eager to hear some news from the Double Dime. Jeff is dialed in there and should have something for us by now.

Daniel

October 23rd, 2009
11:58 am

The Hawks are definitely improved. Most of the ESPN writers are lazy and don’t look at any team that is not NY, Bos, Clev, or LA. That is just the plain truth. I mean Sheridan actually thought we woud be better with Andre Miller, who probably won’t even start in Portland. How were people feeling about the Falcons two years ago? Experts, Whatever, thankfully the NBA isn’t college football and they actually play the games instead of just “talking about them”

Daniel

October 23rd, 2009
11:59 am

The over on 44 is not less likely. Sorry Jeff.

Barnacle Bill Bavasi

October 23rd, 2009
12:01 pm

Woody remains the biggest weakness. But the roster may be able to overcome him and go farther in the playoffs.

PoliticalMan

October 23rd, 2009
12:02 pm

No higher than 4th for Hawks. Their team is competent, but lacks the edge, the brilliance when it counts, to go any higher. Joe Johnson typifies Hawks. Good numbers, but not an elite player. Cannot take over a game.

SWAT Native

October 23rd, 2009
12:07 pm

All this illustrates how little attention you should pay to the preseason projections by the so-called “experts”. Mike Woodson and Vinny Del Negro are high on the list of most likely to be fired when both took young teams to the playoffs? Most of these “expert” have probably never even seen the Hawks play other than in the playoffs.

I agree with Leek, however, that the Hawks are better off as underdogs. The good news is that unlike college football, the pundits don’t get to decide who gets to go the playoffs.

Flappin' Hawk

October 23rd, 2009
12:08 pm

The National media has been wrong about the Hawks for the past 2 years. We’ll prove them wrong again this year. The Nat Med don’t even watch games to draw conclusions, they are strictly concerned with entertaining and selling newspapaers or web ads.

j-hawk

October 23rd, 2009
12:23 pm

I would not be surprised to see ATL finish as high as 2nd in the East. Here is why…Cleveland adding Shaq($21 mil. for 09-10) only looks good on paper. He is done as far as scoring is concerned, and Delonte West is crazy. Orlando is going to find out real fast how bad they miss Turkoglu and that V. Carter is not what he used to be. Boston has not made any major improvements other than Rasheed Wallace (35 years old). The average age of their 4 stars is 33.5. Rondo is only who he is because of the other players on the floor. He was above average at best at Kentucky. They will start to have injury problems just like KG last year. Hawks are much younger, deeper than the teams listed above. Look for Horford to have a huge season with the addition of J. Teague. He will penetrate the middle and leave Al open for easy buckets. I’m out!

Jeff Schultz

October 23rd, 2009
12:24 pm

Jackets TN: 2nd.

Jackets TN: 3rd

EW: Vegas smack talk!

Jim: Oops, you are correct SIR! Let me fix that right now.

ESPN2?

October 23rd, 2009
12:25 pm

On the Hawks page there is a banner that says Hawks vs Orlando 8:00 ESPN2

Comcast tv guide says Rutgers v Army live at 8:00 on ESPN2.

Which is it?

Jeff Schultz

October 23rd, 2009
12:30 pm

Jim (and others): actually it was easier to take the line out. Thanks again. (It seems we have a lot of gambling experts here. I used to be one. Then lost.)

Flappin Hawk: True enough. Certainly were wrong about the Falcons last year too.

Jhawk: I’ll be interested to see how many minutes Shaq actually plays during the regular season. Signing him was all about the post-season for them.

Jeff Schultz

October 23rd, 2009
12:31 pm

ESPN2? Our TV listings today say Hawks on ESPN and Rutgers on ESPN2. That’s all I know. Maybe it got switched.

The Grinch

October 23rd, 2009
12:32 pm

We’re gonna be worse because Bibby’s older, Crawford jacks up 20 shots a game and Joe’s in a contract year? First, Joe being in a contract year means he’s going to play better (like every NBA player in history always has, which is common sense), plus having another scoring option now means he won’t have to play 48 minutes a game. Every star in Boston is older than Bibby, while our core players haven’t even peaked yet. Shaq isn’t old for Cleveland? Vince Carter won’t jack up 20 shots a game in Orlando? Do these morons even WATCH basketball?

doggonit

October 23rd, 2009
12:34 pm

teague. watch him. he will run the floor!

ESPN2?

October 23rd, 2009
12:36 pm

Thanks Jeff. Yeah, comcast has Hawks on ESPN.

j-hawk

October 23rd, 2009
12:37 pm

Nice stuff Grinch…all the moves made by teams rated ahead of the Hawks involved major players that are all older than the Hawks starters and most of the bench. Bibby is going to have a great year since he will not be relied upon to score 15-20 per night.

j-hawk

October 23rd, 2009
12:41 pm

You are correct doggonit. Had Teague stayed at WF one more year he would have drawn every imaginable comparison to Chris Paul. ATL getting him where they did will play out to be huge!

Manny

October 23rd, 2009
12:43 pm

I think that the biggest good thing about this year is Mike Woodson’s attitude this preseason. The 2nd-stringers and rookies are getting more touches. He’s getting more comfortable with putting in rookies and 2nd-stringers on the floor. That’s a great thing because he’s improving depth on the bench.

If the Hawks can bring in a deep bench, the Hawks wouldn’t be so tired and spent going down the stretch and can make a stronger run in the playoffs.

Gwinnett Fred

October 23rd, 2009
12:46 pm

Just to fill folks in on the “Vegas Experts” and how to properly read odds or a point spread:

The number of wins posted by Vegas is NOT their “experts” prediction as to how many games the Hawks will win this year. It IS their prediction on the number of wins that will get equal gaming action on both sides of the “over” and “under”.

Thus, it isn’t Vegas that is saying the Hawks will win 44 games, it is the gaming public. Now then, do Casino’s win or the gaming public?

I’ll assume you know the answer is the Casino’s and bottom line, what the posted 44 number represents is the thinking of the LOSING gaming public. So anybody that knows how Vegas bookmakers work should be encouraged.

GeeMack

October 23rd, 2009
12:51 pm

Jeff

You gotta remember their has been 1 team that won an NBA championship without a star, and that was the 04 Pistons. The NBA is a star driven league, and the Hawks don’t have that.

I got us winning 48 to 50 games this year, and a 2nd round exit to one of the big 3 in the East.

This team is built perfect for a stud to take to the next level. Until we get that we won’t see the respect from the national media.

No in this city seriously believes the Hawks could take 1 of the Big 3 in a 7 game series although the team is deeper and better.

Najeh Davenpoop

October 23rd, 2009
12:57 pm

I don’t think the Hawks have gotten any love from “experts” since Bob Pettit played for them. This is no surprise.

Najeh Davenpoop

October 23rd, 2009
12:59 pm

Co-sign Gwinnett Fred. He is 100% correct about gaming lines. They are not the same as predictions.

atlanta sports fan

October 23rd, 2009
12:59 pm

I hope everybody under estimates us all year. GO HAWKS

Jeff Schultz

October 23rd, 2009
1:01 pm

Manny — That is a good sign, but the lineup is set now so there’s really no reason to play those other guys. We’ll see how it plays out.

Gwinnett — Yes, over/unders, like spreads, are based on perception to get an even amount of money on both sides. But that perception has stunning accuracy. I can’t explain that.

The Grinch

October 23rd, 2009
1:01 pm

I disagree, GeeMack. I’m buying into them this year. I don’t think it’s likely they’ll win the east, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see them move up a notch or two in the standings, and further in the playoffs. I honestly believe they’re undersold; just a gut feeling.

j

October 23rd, 2009
1:01 pm

Seriously, who listens to these ANALysts? What makes them experts? Each one of them are biased and none of them really watch any of the games

HOW are Toronto or Washington going to finish above the Hawks? Just doesn’t make sense to me

Whopper Dawg

October 23rd, 2009
1:04 pm

I am actually a little excited about the team, a good mix I think, and that doesn’t happen often. I think we will contend in the East and fare better than Vegas forecasts.

Dawg in the Northwoods

October 23rd, 2009
1:07 pm

There is a key point with the “Big 3″ in the East that hasn’t been mentioned yet. If Boston loses Paul Pierce, Cleveland Labron James or Orlando Dwight Howard they’re DONE!!!!!! Who, on the Hawks roster is irreplaceable?????? No-one. That being said, the NBA season is quite long and full of potential pit falls. Thanks Vegas for providing me extra cash for next summer’s vacation.

JustaThought

October 23rd, 2009
1:09 pm

SO does anybody “still” believe the JJ can take this team to a Eastern Conference Championship…………..or was Belkin right?

layinlow

October 23rd, 2009
1:11 pm

I’m glad they are not getting the respect. The Hawks can use this as a tool of motivation to prove they belong. Sometimes teams that get to much love start drinking their own koolaid so to speak. Press clippings can sometimes derail a team because they start thinking they can just put it on cruise control. Let the national media continue to diss us anf hopefully our hawks will play with an edge to prove themselves worthy.

JustaThought

October 23rd, 2009
1:15 pm

Hey Dan…………..when did the national media pick the Hawks to do better than they’ve done at this point? Exactly! That why they all see the samething, and if you was to pull your head out of your ass you’ll see the same that they have seen. They was saying the same about the Majic untill they proved them wrong last year, so until the Hawks prove them wrong (being more that they been) then…………..yeah!

layinlow

October 23rd, 2009
1:18 pm

That over/under of 44 can certainly begin to rise if they start getting a lot of action with people taking the over. Jeff, could you check back with them right before the regular season starts to see where that over/under goes? I would be curious to see where the betters take that number. Because as of right now over 44 looks like a pretty damn good wager to make.

JustaThought

October 23rd, 2009
1:20 pm

50 wins, 55 wins……it don’t matter! Until this clown organization can at least go to and push for the ECC, they don’t get no respect!
I don’t mean playing tough in the second round and getting eliminated. They haven’t been relavent in almost 20………yes I said 20 years!

Darrin "The Vent King"

October 23rd, 2009
1:24 pm

All I can hope is that the additions of Teague, J Crawford, J Collins, and Joe Smith keeps the starters fresh so that we can play more “Hawk” ball getting up and down the floor on these “elite” teams in the East. When we play like that, we’re good. I still worry about the coaching though. It seems at times Woody loses these guys for stretches, then they come back. That will leave you finishing no better than fourth in the East and maybe winning a playoff series. If Horford can improve on the offensive end that’ll be a BIG help too. I just hope the coach can get it in the hawk’s collective head to play uptempo and keep the defensive pressure on teams all game, all the time, all season long. If they can somehow manage to do that they can be a surprisingly improved squad but that’s a lot of “ifs” to hang your hat on and until they actually prove they can do these things I can see why all these pundits have their doubts. As a Hawk’s fan, all I can do is pray they do.
GO HAWKS!!!

Hawk n the Ham

October 23rd, 2009
1:24 pm

I haven’t been more excited to see the Hawks play since the last time I heard Dominique say “Heat Check!”

And he probably said it sometime last night, so that means I’m REALLY excited! Go Dirty Birds 2.0

JustaThought

October 23rd, 2009
1:24 pm

They haven’t been getting NO respect…………and what’s been the results………………..yeah! This crew couldn’t get motivated if thier lives depended on it!

Brian

October 23rd, 2009
1:27 pm

Any strides this team makes this year will be tiny. Anybody expecting a lot more than last will be disappointed. This team still doesn’t have a superstar and they’re still stuck with Mike Woodson’s poor coaching.

I MUS WRITE

October 23rd, 2009
1:29 pm

Wow…..Much to do about nothing-These are the same idiots who said we wouldnt make it back to the playoffs last year. They also said The Falcons would win 2 games last year. I cant wait for the season to start so we can make the experts eat their words.

Lets kick sum magic azz tonite go HAWKS