This just in! The 2008-2009 Hawks did OK for themselves!

We’ve kicked around the Hawks, sometimes pretty hard, these past few days, but amid all the discussions regarding who’s to blame — Woody? Joe? Red Auerbach? — a greater truth has been obscured if not missed entirely. So here goes:

The Hawks won more games than they should’ve and lost exactly when they should’ve.

They were 37-45 in 2007-2008. They improved 10 games without adding a starter. (And despite losing the Grecian earner Josh Childress.) They moved from the No. 8 seed in the East to the No. 4 seed. They won a first-round series over the No. 5 seed. They lost in Round 2 to the top seed. I’ve been a harsh critic of this franchise over the past quarter-century, but I’d say these Hawks gave good value for what they had.

And what exactly did they have? Well, according to the All-NBA team released Wednesday, not all that much. Joe Johnson finished 19th in the voting, which placed him among the honorable mentions, and no other Hawk received even a single vote. (Heck, Jermaine O’Neal received a single vote.)

In the postseason, they beat an opponent (Miami) that had a first-team All-Star and lost to one (Cleveland) that had a unanimous first-teamer. In the regular season they finished behind one Eastern club (Orlando) that had a first-teamer and another (Boston) that had a second-teamer. In a league where stars drive the bus, should we have expected any more from the Hawks?

Not really. Oh, it’d have been nice if they’d given the Cavs a run, but with three starters injured that was never going to happen. The bottom line: This is a talented team but not a great team. Nobody had a breakout season. Not one Hawk finished among the league’s top 10 in scoring, rebounding, assists, steals or blocked shots. Neither Josh Smith nor Al Horford received a vote for the all-defensive team.

Me, I’d say they did OK for themselves. But maybe that’s just me, and maybe I’m getting senile in my old age.

85 comments Add your comment

wxwax

May 13th, 2009
6:01 pm

I agree completely.

Overall, this has been a good season. At one point I worried that a blowout sweep to the Cavs would undo all the good the Hawks had achieved this year. But the team showed some spunk at Philips, thank goodness.

The good thing about making it to the playoffs is that the heat of those battle distills your team’s strengths and weaknesses. It becomes obvious what needs to change in order to improve.

I think it’s clear that leadership is a glaring weakness in the locker room. If that’s the only change Sund makes this off-season, the Hawks will be an improved lot.

Jt

May 13th, 2009
6:02 pm

What is most troubling about the Hawks is that they did exactly what they set out to do. All year they have said their goal was to get homecourt advantage in the first round and advance to the 2nd round of the playoffs. I heard it all year long. They did it. The bad thing about it is that their goals were set low, but realistic. All Woodson has to do is improve each year. He has done that. Now they have to raise the bar- they CANNOT go backwards next year. Neither management nor coach can afford that. The question that remains is exactly WHAT is needed to go to another level. There are lots of opinions about that- conflicting opinions( see Bradley and Schultz). I don’t know what is needed. I hope Sund knows as Dimitoff knows the Falcons. We will see. The Cavaliers have “one goal”. It ain’t homecourt advantage and 2nd round win. Hopefully next year the Hawks management will make the decisions needed to “go to the next level”. We will find out. They cannot afford to go backward or remain stagnant.

Charlie

May 13th, 2009
6:11 pm

Mark,

if your the GM, what moves do you make in the offseason?

Reid Adair

May 13th, 2009
6:14 pm

Mark, I would agree that they did OK for themselves, for all the reasons you mentioned. I think the question is how much more can they improve without roster changes, possibly significant ones.

Mark Bradley

May 13th, 2009
6:16 pm

Why, Charlie, I’m glad you asked. Here’s where I’d start.

Hawk Str8Talk

May 13th, 2009
6:29 pm

Mark,
Let me ask you this – do you think that maybe we set low expectations of this team in the first place? If we went based on start of season expectations, then you are absolutely correct. Unfortunately (or fortunately), I changed my expectation of these Hawks in game 7 vs. the Celtics when I saw them give the defending champs all they could handle to lose their first game of the season. That team was fighting, playing transition basketball, using its bench, and focused.

Somewhere during the season that level of effort, focus, and strategy disappeared, so if you start with the original expectation – you’re right. If you began to see where the talent and focus could take you, then I’m not sure you should be excited about what you saw down the stretch. I am definitely one to give a realistic view of the Hawks chances, but going to 7 vs. the Heat and not coaching and playing our hardest (not to be confused with best) is what is most distressing. Think of the other teams in the league who have had their heart and toughness questioned and you see teams that are vastly more talented and well coached – those teams haven’t won titles for those reasons primarily (Dallas and Los Angeles immediately come to mind, Orlando is about to reach that level).

The point of the NBA season is to seed you for your run at a NBA title. Our run at the NBA title was woeful in relation to our run to be seeded for that title. Your thoughts?

O'brien

May 13th, 2009
6:32 pm

Mr. Bradley, one concern with the Hawks is the way they lost games. And how many times have we heard players/coaches say “We came out flat” or “We did not play together”, or “We had no intensity”. To me that’s unacceptable. Yes, we are a young team, but this is Josh’s 5th year, and Marvin’s 3rd. Flip, Bibby, Mo Evans and JJ have been playing a while. I think the Hawks are short on bench talent, but one of their biggest weaknesses is lack of leadership, and no offensive system. And that needs to be addressed.

Hawk Str8Talk

May 13th, 2009
6:33 pm

As JT said, our goal should be a NBA title, not home court advantage, not the 4th seed…I question a team who exhibits the lack of heart and toughness and consistent effort no matter what the results of that output. That’s what is more disheartening than any result offered by this Hawks team this season. I certainly would question your assertion that we lost exactly what we should have and won what we shouldn’t have. The statistics do not bear you out on that one. We certainly lost more games to teams we shouldn’t have than defeated teams we shouldn’t have.

F.I.L.A.

May 13th, 2009
6:36 pm

Mr.Bradley,

Considering who you guys are and who you work for, I know yourself and Sekou have somewhat an inside scoop on what the hawks plans our for the future..With that being said, What do you see them doing with Marvin Williams?? If they trade him I promise you this, They will regret for years to come and it would be a huge mistake by Rick Sund…

Also….What do you see happening with Bibby,Zaza,Flip,And J-Chill??

If the hawks knew what was best for their future they would do whatever it takes to draft Johnny Flynn(Next Superstar PG) Hes going to be a stud for a long time..

Thanks and look forward to hearing from you!

brewdawg

May 13th, 2009
6:45 pm

Good post O’brien.

Reggie

May 13th, 2009
6:54 pm

Mark

I remember you saying we should draft point guard Eric Maynor from VSU. What would he bring to the table? Also what other players do you think would be here when the hawks pick that the hawks should think about drafting?

The Peach

May 13th, 2009
6:55 pm

I agree wholeheartedly MB. And to respond to F.I.L.A, I have been keeping up with Flynn and I think the Hawks need to take him as well. He’s expected to fall within the 15-20 range and with the 19th pick we need to take advantage of him. He can do everything that Bibby can’t…my only concern is his lack of size but isn’t that why the Hawks missed the opportunity to draft CP3?? And look at him now…size or lack thereof, can be overcome.

As a Hawks fan, I love Bibby but he needs to go unless he can take a MASSIVE pay cut. The emergence of Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Rajon Rondo and Derrick Rose has shown that you need a quick, dynamic point guard with the ability to penetrate, get in the lane and break down defenses. Bibby can’t do any of these things and his best days were left behind in Sacramento

Mark Bradley

May 13th, 2009
6:59 pm

Marvin is a tough call — he’s not a bad player, but he’s not an essential player, either. Do you want to pay him $10 million a year to score points but ultimately to defer to Joe and Josh and Al and Bibby come the crunch?

Me, I wouldn’t. I’d try to work a sign-and-trade.

As for Maynor: He can penetrate and shoot, and I think he can distribute the ball, too. But I don’t know if he’ll be around when the Hawks pick. (They’ll go around 20th.) I hope he is.

Bleu_Bayou42

May 13th, 2009
7:09 pm

They have been blistering the Hawks on talk radio. Bottom Line, you switch Lebron James with Joe Johnson and the Hawks sweep the Cavs. It’s not that the Hawks are that bad of a team, it’s just that Lebron James is that freaking good. I can’t wait to see the Cavs destroy Boston or Orlando next round. Outside of Lebron James I would not trade one of our starters for one of Clevelands starters. That’s how good Lebron makes the players around him play. He’s a freak.

We can only get better through the draft and add to what we have. There is no in the league currently available for us to sign through free agency or trade that is going to put us in better position to beat the Cavs with a health Lebron James. If there is I haven’t seen him.

We gotta resign Bibby.

I am ok either way on Woody.

The Peach

May 13th, 2009
7:16 pm

But a sign and trade for who? I wish we could do a sign and trade for Chris Kaman or some other capable center…and draft a YOUNG point guard. Sorry but I don’t want an Andre Miller on my team…people keep bringing up his name. He’s 32 for pete’s sake! We need a young stud!

Mark Bradley

May 13th, 2009
7:23 pm

Chris Kaman is a good name. Anderson Varejao is a good name, and he’s a free agent. So is Denver’s Birdman.

And I wrote yesterday that I wouldn’t mind a sign-and-trade package of Marvin/Acie for Ronny Turiaf and Brandan Wright of Golden State.

The Peach

May 13th, 2009
7:38 pm

I’m not a fan of Varejao but I would love him if he was on my team. Haha. he’s just one of those players that you hate him if he’s on the opposing team but you adore him if he’s on yours.

But with all that he has done for the Cavaliers, why would they be stupid enough to let him go? He’s an integral part of their frontcourt and without his intangibles they wouldn’t have had the success they had this season.

glw

May 13th, 2009
7:46 pm

Everyone keeps saying we need a center. Sure, its ideal to have a serviceable offensive center, but as long has been the debate, what do we do with Horford and/or Smith? Smith isnt a 3 and not sure he will ever be. And to get Kaman, we almost certainly would have to give up something of value in return.

I go back and forth with Marvin and Bibby. Like Mark said, Marvin is solid, but isnt essential. But Marvin’s solid play is what might be needed more than anything. I think he might end up in a situation like Ben Gordon, where the offers dont come, most teams are probably going to hold there money until next summer and not want to give out big contracts this year, and the Hawks are going to only do what the market dictates.

As far as Bibby, the wait and see approach will work best too. Im not sure there is a market for Bibby and his greatest value is to the Hawks by far. But Bibby brought more heart than any other player I saw for the Hawks in the playoffs. I like him back but in a reduced role, and he needs to be paired with a quick penetrator either through the draft or Acie Law.

Marcus

May 13th, 2009
7:50 pm

I am glad to see this type of blog … I think the tenor of the 5/12/09 blog went downhill and folks just piled on, despite some of its salient points. Ithe emotion of getting swept by CLE probably didnt help the mood from fans.
I think the team as a whole acquitted themselves well, despite not having any ‘08 draft picks, a GM transition, and losing a valuable 6th man in J-Childress. Not to mention the continuing sagas in coaching (tossed Woody a 2-year extension/bone) and ownership (ASG, need I say more).
We can only hope that Mr. Sund will provide management leadership to be able to weather the upcoming roster and ‘09 draft decisions and NOT regress.
Good job Hawks, look forward to ‘09-2010.

Endymion

May 13th, 2009
8:05 pm

I think even more than just the Cleveland series, the Hawks chances of going further than the 2nd rounded ended when Marvin hurt his back and was not able to play much the last 20 games of the season. The other injuries just kept adding to the problem. Healthy, I would have expected the Hawks to still lose to Cleveland 4-2. They still need to add a true center so Horford can move to PF and backup center. But great job Hawks. You made us proud with your fight and never giving up!

Endymion

May 13th, 2009
8:07 pm

Forget switching Lebron and Joe. Just add Atlanta-native Dwight Howard to the Hawks and they go all the way.

Astro Joe

May 13th, 2009
8:09 pm

It’s all relative and in a town with very infrequent playoff appearances from our professional teams, having a squad that not only makes the playoffs but actually does more than make a token appearance is refreshing. It feels like it has been 10 years since either the Braves or Falcons advanced beyond the lobby of the post-season. Yet, somehow, we spent several days clowning the Hawks for losing N THE SECOND ROUND to the team that almost assuredly will walk away wth the golden trophy. And losing to a team that each and everyone of us knows is far superior to the Hawks. We’ve seen the Braves and Falcons lose to inferior foes in the post-season, this was NOT the case. I guess we’re so dysfunctional that if our team can’t go straight from the cellar to title in one magical season, then we don’t want them there at all. Some teams have to take incremental steps toward greatness. I know, difficult concept for some.

tjhook

May 13th, 2009
8:16 pm

Mr. Bradley, you are onto something with the sign-and-trade. I want to mention the San Antonio Spurs as a potential team to trade with. Marvin Williams is a luxury for the Hawks but we need a scoring playmaker along with a low post threat. I recommend this move: Williams and maybe Speedy Claxton to the Spurs for George Hill and Drew Gooden. The Hawks need to make Flip Murray the resigning priority and you can bring in two players with athleticism and a strong defensive mentality.

The Peach

May 13th, 2009
8:20 pm

Agree with you Astro Joe but what can you expect from fans of the worst sports town in America? Yeah I said it…and I’m an ATL native born n raised. I’m just being honest though so please don’t get offended.

The fans in this town have very little knowledge about what it takes to create a contender. Atlanta won’t be a contender until 2011 IF we make the right coaching changes, draft picks and roster additions. The fact that we made it to the second round was a miracle based on the schizophrenic games in the 1st round, so how could anyone realistically expect us to beat Cleveland?

Mark Bradley

May 13th, 2009
8:22 pm

As I recall, the Spurs were thought to be one team interested in working a sign-and-trade for Josh Childress before he fled to Europe. But I can’t imagine anybody being interested in Speedy.

The Peach

May 13th, 2009
8:25 pm

LOL at Drew Gooden having a strong defensive minded mentality. I’ve seen him play several times this season when he was with the Bulls…before he got injured. Any Bulls fan will tell you he’s a terrible defender of opposing power forwards…in fact that’s the main weakness to his game. He’s a good rebounder and midrange jump shooter but that’s it.

Mz. Fan of an Okay Team with a Honorable Mention Player

May 13th, 2009
8:28 pm

This just in! The 2008-2009 Hawks did OK for themselves! Yep, they did! Can’t argue with that! 10 wins improvement from previous season, 3 games short of 50, homecourt in the first round, from an eight seed to a fourth seed, made it to the second round but got swept. Uh huh, that’s okay.

Reaching your goals is okay, reaching your goals and doing a little more (maybe at least win the 3 games at home in the second round) is good, but going beyond your goals ( upsetting the Cavs, winning Division). Since the Hawks achieved most of their goals set, fell a little short on the wins column, then based on my previous reasoning, I’ll have to agree with you, Mr. Bradley, the Hawks did okay.

And what exactly did they have? Well, according to the All-NBA team released Wednesday, not all that much. Joe Johnson finished 19th in the voting, which placed him among the honorable mentions, and no other Hawk received even a single vote. (Heck, Jermaine O’Neal received a single vote.) Hmmmm, 19th out of 450, honorable mention, that means Joe got some recognition. So Mark, if the NBA had a fourth All Defensive Team, then Joe Johnson would be on it? Right!

Mz. Fan of an Okay Team with a Honorable Mention Player

May 13th, 2009
8:37 pm

Oh come on! Everybody knows Lebron’s great. It’s already been established. Who cares unless you are a fan of his or a fan of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Since this is a Hawks blog in an Atlanta paper can we please stick to everything Hawks and leave the Lebron adoration for Cleveland and the rest of the NBA. OKAY!

Mark Bradley

May 13th, 2009
8:44 pm

Dwight Howard? Good idea. I’m sure Orlando would trade him even up for Othello Hunter.

Mz. Fan of an Okay Team with a Honorable Mention Player

May 13th, 2009
8:44 pm

Scratch the All Defensive Team, I meant the All NBA Team, Mark. With Joe finishing 19th would he be on the fourth team if they had one?

TheAntiMe

May 13th, 2009
8:45 pm

As things currently stand it very much appears to me that this is a good news/bad news situation for the Hawks.

The good news:

The Hawks did continue to improve both in the regular season, as well as in the playoffs.

The bad news:

Although the Hawks front office made some needed but very limited additions to the roster over the last offseason, they still very much lack the type of player to allow this team to become one of the NBA’s elite teams i.e. Cavaliers, Celtics, Lakers.

While the Hawks progress this season is encouraging, it very much remains to be seen whether the ASG ownership will care enough about the team or the fans to spend the money necessary to allow the Hawks to be able to compete with the elite teams for an NBA championship. Unfortunately, all of the evidence from previous offseasons under the ASG would seem to indicate that the answer to this vital question will be an emphatic “NO”.

RA

May 13th, 2009
8:48 pm

Well gee wiz Mark. How nice of you, coward. You know, your remarks would have meant a lot more if they’d been used to temper the firestorm that was unleashed on this team durring and after the playoffs, a firestorm of criticism that you helped unleash. It took two days of finger pointing and some of the harshest criticism that I’ve ever seen leveled at a team that made as much progress as Atlanta did this year for someone in the cynic’s camp to finally take an objective look at the regular season, and the playoffs and really give an honest appraisal of what happened. Didn’t think it’d be you, but miracles happen every now and then. Now, I’m not one to give a pat ont he back when someone deserves a swift kick in the you know what, but for a team that worked as hard and accomplished as much and had such terrible misfortune as Atlanta did to be exposed to so much anger and negativity, it just makes me sick. And you really might want to rethink trading away Marvin Williams, maybe you know of another 6-9 player that could possibly shoot 40% from beyond the arch, I don’t know many.

Don’t get me wrong Bradley, I agree with most of what you said, I just really wish it hadn’t taken you two painful days to say it.

Mark Bradley

May 13th, 2009
8:49 pm

This offseason is a major test of these owners, and also of Rick Sund. No question.

And Joe would have made the fourth team. If there was one. Which there isn’t.

D Hawk

May 13th, 2009
8:59 pm

Does anyone remember how many games Cleveland won last year? 45. They lost in the second round of the playoffs also, and the only key additions that they made were Mo Williams and LeBron James’s “focus”. Now I’m obviously not trying to compare anyone on this team to The Chosen One, but the Cavs essentially added an 18 points per game scorer to their core offense which allowed LeBron to play 3 fewer minutes per game.

Five keys this offseason for the Hawks:
1. Find a way to reduce Joe’s minutes either through additional players getting increased playing time or by delegating more of the offensive load to Josh and Horford.
2. Re-sign Bibby but don’t overspend. Sign a true point guard.
3. Sign a legitimate center so that Horford can move to PF and Josh to SF; this would maximize both players’ talent.
4. Develop Acie Law as a swing/backup guard along the lines of Jason Terry.
5. Re-sign Marvin if the price is right. Sign and trade if we can get help but he’s one of the few outside threats on this team. That will need to be replaced if he goes.

howie

May 13th, 2009
9:02 pm

I think if the Hawks resigned the 4 players that could leave…MA, Bibby, Flip and Zaza….we could see them win 5-10 more games next year….they are young and all 3 forwards still have upside. Their goal should be to improve again, like they have for the last 3-4.

Do not blow this team up! That being said, I do not see the the team being exactly the same as this year. I would be disapointed to see them make a bunch of moves and then win 45 games.

It is nice to say that we should have higher expectations but unless we add a superstar we probably are not winning a title. Their goal should be to improve. Period.

bigeasy830

May 13th, 2009
9:14 pm

I hear many on talk radio saying the Hawks should blow this team up to avoid losing in the 2nd round every year the way Mookie and Steve Smith and Mutombo did, well why blow up a team that have just improved to make it to the second round. It is very hard to evaluate this teams performance in the play-offs. We made it to the second round but looked bad doing so because of injuries. We all know Al can play better than he did but he was playing on one leg. Marvin is much better than he showed but he catches flack because we keep dreaming of what could have been with CP3 or Deron Williams. In respect to Marvin’s restricted free agency status, I say we resign him unless some team make him an offer that would be insane for us to match. Marvin still has some developing to do, but he is what he is and that is a very talented player that just does not have that killer instinct. We can resign him and keep Bibby as long as they don’t make ridiculous demands on the contracts. I don’t see Marvin getting J-Smoove money of 10 mil per I say he gets 8 or 9 and so does Bibby which is slightly more than what Bibby got all of last year. Then the 2010 season we get from under Speedy’s horrible contract and free up money for Joe and Al. We only need to tweak it not blow it up.

bigeasy830

May 13th, 2009
9:21 pm

DHAWK, great post, I believe A.I. would put this team over the top and make us a legit contender. If we lose Bibby, I say roll the dice on A.i. that would definitely lessen the load on Joe. A.I.’s ability to penetrate and score would make every player on the court with him so much better offensively. i think he got a raw deal in Detroit, they blamed him for the demise when that team have been fading for a couple of years now. How many people would have given Ron Artest a chance before last season now look at the impact he is having on that Rockets team. And speaking of the Rockets, what about a sign and trade Marvin and Speedy’s contract for T-Mac, if he could stay healthy his scoring ability would also make us a contender, but i like the A.I. scenario better.

Bill Miller

May 13th, 2009
9:23 pm

I think they had a good year. They improved and will continue to improve. Three starters injured in the play-offs makes a heck of a difference. Let’s hope for a fully healthy next season.- and maybe the return of Josh childress. It doesn’t sound like he likes it over there too much.

Mark Bradley

May 13th, 2009
9:25 pm

Blow up the team? Another good idea. We all know how much fun it was to watch the Hawks lose 69 games in 2004-2005, don’t we? That’s wholly preferable to being eliminated in Round 2, wouldn’t you say?

Give me a break.

bigeasy830

May 13th, 2009
9:33 pm

I agree with you 100 percent Mark Bradley but, some on sports radio have made that suggestion. I think it is insane. We have improved to the second round we are not stuck in a rut. I believe that if we keep this same team together we win 50 and the South next year. Looks like trouble in paradise for the Magic. The Coach and star player battling it out in the media. Some calling Van Gundy the king of the panic mode. There will definitely be some fall out from that situation that may have a negative carry-over to next season unless they win this series against Boston.

Mark Bradley

May 13th, 2009
9:37 pm

Obvious remedy, BigEasy: Stop listening to sports radio.

And you’re right: It’s not a rut when you improve by 10 games. It’s progress.

RA

May 13th, 2009
9:38 pm

I must be sick. Mark Bradley is beginning to sound like the voice of reason.

bigeasy830

May 13th, 2009
9:44 pm

Mark the Music that the radio stations play in Atlanta is so bad, my choices are listen to the foolishness on sports radio or a station playing a song called the “DO THE STANK’IN LEG”. I need to hear what is going on with the traffic so I picked my poison and it is sports radio, I suppose.

Shannon

May 13th, 2009
9:48 pm

I will listen to some sports talk radio but I quit listening to the Two Live Stews because I couldn’t understand them …..

Mark Bradley

May 13th, 2009
9:54 pm

Full disclosure: I’m spoiled. I’ve had XM since 2005. I listen to nothing else.

DHD

May 13th, 2009
10:00 pm

sign Big Z and Andre Miller. Let Bibby go and keep everybody else. We’ll come in second in the East and have a shot at the finals.

D.Carter

May 13th, 2009
10:04 pm

I think the biggest change that needs to be made is a coaching change or offensive gameplanning ….If you notice the other teams that are still alive in the playoffs all set good to GREAT BALL SCREENS especially out of the secondary fast breaks which creates penetration and doesnt allow the defenses to totally get set…. Josh Smith should be like tyson chandler always setting screens and rolling TOWARDS THE BASKET…WHICH IS AWAY FROM THE 3PT LINE!!!!

WOODY EARLY PENETRATION CREATES EASY OPPOURTUNITIES!!!!!! and wide open 3 pt shots as oppose to forced threes from bibby , joe , and MR USELESS MO EVANS…

D.Carter

May 13th, 2009
10:07 pm

We need Jamal Crawford or Allen Iverson both of whom are penetrators…. Iverson gives us true star and scorer power which will let Joe play second fiddle which is where he belongs…..

D.Carter

May 13th, 2009
10:11 pm

Shannon your right i stop listening to Steak and the morning crew because they are just plain stupid… Pollack and Bell are sports idiots and can never get there names or facts str8 about anything they are talking about……….

Mark Bradley

May 13th, 2009
10:13 pm

I’d rather have Jamal Crawford than Iverson or Andre Miller. And Ilgauskas is kind of intriguing as a free agent, though I don’t know the Hawks could afford to sign him and keep Bibby. (Or Marvin Williams.)