(UPDATED at 10:35 p.m. Tremendous effort by the Hawks tonight in Memphis. They buried Memphis 119-104. It was exactly the kind of performance fans and coach Larry Drew had hoped to get in the opener: Great ball distribution and balance on offense and solid effort on defense. The Hawks’ efforts even had Memphis fans booing the home team. The Hawks’ unlikely player of the game: Zaza Pachulia, with 17 points and 10 rebounds off the bench.)
The Hawks are the only pro sports franchise in Atlanta that’s made the playoffs in the last three years.
Conventional wisdom: Fans are pumped for tonight’s opener.
I sent out a question on Twitter and Facebook earlier today asking what you thought of this year’s team going into tonight’s season opener in Memphis. (By the way, if you’re not following @JeffSchultzAJC or haven’t friend me on Facebook, there’s pretty good chance that you’re the only one on your block not to do so, possibly a social outcast. But it’s not too late. Save yourself!)
Anyway, I expected a 50-50 split from readers on whether they were excited, angered or bored. (Actually that would be a 50-50-50 split.) But most of you are not excited about this Hawks team.
Before I get to some of the comments, here’s what I think: I like Larry Drew, the new coach. Is he proven? No. But he’s also not Mike Woodson, even though he worked for Woodson. He has a fresh approach to the offense and he is respected by players in the locker room.
Whether Drew is successful remains to be seen. The key is how quickly he can get Joe Johnson to share the ball and others to not have the automatic mindset of feeding Johnson in what needs to be a more-balanced, less-predictable offense.
As for the rest of what the team did this offseason, I’m with most of you on not being impressed. General manager Rick Sund drafted Jordan Crawford, which could turn out to be a terrific decision, but he did not add a legitimate center to either start or for significant minute off the bench. That’s why I pushed for the signing of Shaquille O’Neal. As a result, Al Horford will still play out of position and the Hawks likely will be overmatched when they play the three powers in the Eastern Conference: Boston, Orlando and Miami.
But we’ll find out this decision worked. As they say, that’s why they play the games.
OK, that’s why I think. Here’s what some of you think. Sorry but I couldn’t use all of the comments.
– From Andrew Hirsch: “It’s funny how this worked out, but it seems as if the Joe Johnson signing has actually deflated the excitement of the fan base.”
– From Benjamin Sheffield: “Confident that we’re starting another solid season; doubtful that we’ll be a 3 or 4 seed this year, but I’ll take a playoff berth out of this team, regardless.”
– From Chris Dyer: “I believe the hiring of Drew and the lack of a signing a true center deflated the fan base this year … not the signing of Joe Johnson. He was a must.”
– @dsgbncali: “I’m not confident at all about the Hawks this year. Just seems like the ASG wants this team out of ATL.”
– @sleslie1974: “Confident that Marvin Williams will fall down at least three times.”
– @Lowcountrydawg: “They’re a great team to watch, but they won’t win the east. They’re a summer romance. Fun for a few weeks but no future.”
– @DavidHuey: “I refuse to support the Hawks after re-signing Johnson after his ‘we could care less if they show up’ comments last year!”
– @Reggies_World: “I expect the Hawks play like a team that is ticked off with the way the season ended.”
– @UGABugKiller: “In your Hawks blog, can you tell us you don’t care what we think & then sign the worst contract in NBA history (for fans)?”
– @redclaybulldogs: “Same Administration, Same Results & Expectations. Rick Sund should stay but the team’s ownership must GO!”
– @Thomas_P_Kelly: “I’m pretty confident in the Hawks. I think Horford emerges this year as THE MAIN EVENT this year.”
– @DMitchUGA: “I see a mirror image of last season–and that’s not a good thing. East teams improve, they’re in neutral.”
– @jhclay:“How this for comment? I have not thought about the Hawks until you asked the question…meaning they are irrelevant in NBA.”
– @Brandonlieblich: Hawks will compete this season, but w/out a legit big man teams like the Celtics will score at will. 2nd round and done.”
If you want to use this as a forum for comments during the game, that would be great. I’ll check in periodically. We’ll call it a “semi-live” blog.
So what are your thoughts on the season?
Previous posts from Georgia-Florida week