Why the Atlanta Hawks are still wishing upon a star

The annual chorus is in fine voice. “The Hawks,” goes the full-throated refrain, “won’t get any better until they find a superstar [meaning LeBron James or Kobe Bryant] or a true center [like Dwight Howard].”

And there’s no rebuttal. Sure, the Hawks would be better with LeBron/Kobe/Dwight. Any team would. But the cold truth is that the Hawks won’t find such a transcendent talent unless Dame Fortune smiles an outrageous smile. That’s the way of the NBA.

“You don’t trade for superstars,” says Rick Sund, the Hawks’ general manager. “You draft them.”

The lottery is, by design and definition, pure luck. The Hawks were participants in 2003 (LeBron’s year, when their No. 8 pick was made by Milwaukee as part of the Glenn Robinson trade) and 2004 (Dwight’s year, when they settled for Josh Childress with the sixth pick), and both times went unblessed by the ping-pong balls. There’s no strategy involved. It’s the bounce of ball in a hopper.

A little exercise: Take one player – any one, from Josh Smith to Speedy Claxton – off the Hawks and replace him with LeBron/Kobe/Dwight. Know where the Hawks would be? Preparing for Game 1 of the NBA finals. This is a very good team that lacks only one great player, but that’s a massive lack.

We tire of the NBA’s blather about its stars, but nobody can deny that it’s a star’s game. And stars are hard to get. Of the 15 men who comprised the 2009 All-NBA teams, 13 were top 10 draftees – the exceptions are Kobe Bryant, taken No. 13 when high schoolers weren’t yet the rage, and Tony Parker, who arrived from France as the 28th pick in 2001 – and 10 went in the top five.

With Chris Paul, the 2008-2009 Hawks would have been:

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Only three of the 15 have changed teams since their NBA debuts. (The three: Shaquille O’Neal, Pau Gasol and Chauncey Billups.) Moral of our story: If you find a star, you keep him. And if you have a chance at one and you whiff … well, you wind up being the Hawks, forever chasing the game.

They couldn’t have had James in 2003 or Howard in 2004 because they didn’t win the lottery. But they had a shot at Chris Paul (second team All-NBA) in 2005, and they had another at Brandon Roy (also second team) the next year. To harp on those dire drafts is to flog a horse deader than Man ’o War, but the Hawks haven’t yet — and might never — outrun those lapses.

They could have had a backcourt of Paul and Joe Johnson way back in 2005. No, they wouldn’t have landed in the 2007 lottery and wouldn’t have Al Horford, but they’d have made the Eastern Conference finals by now and still had Mike Bibby’s money to spend on a big man.

Billy Knight deserves credit for building a 69-loss roster into a robust entity, but the best player he acquired — Johnson — hasn’t made the All-NBA team. Twice Knight had the opening to draft a star, and twice he took a guy named Williams. (Though not, alas, Deron Williams.) And even now, as the Hawks come off their finest season in a decade and Sund seeks to model his club after the starless 2003-2004 Pistons, those failures are the horse that keeps on dying.

178 comments Add your comment

ATL living in NYC

June 1st, 2009
3:45 pm

Mark,

That is very true. You either draft superstars or you pay millions of dollars to obtain them. I understand he isnt a superstar but Joe has been great for this franchise. Do you see the hawks trading Joe Johnson at the deadline next year or actually will try and resign him?

Obama hates Cheney's bald head the most

June 1st, 2009
3:45 pm

Well said, go get a star Sund!!!

Kenbud

June 1st, 2009
3:47 pm

I could not agree more …. that’s why last year, I said they should have offered the sun, moon and a couple of stars for the #1 pick and Derrick Rose. Had it been any other team, I’m sure the team would have bitten, but the hometown Chicago Bulls really wanted him.

I can’t say I would do the same for Blake Griffith this year, though. It’s a guard’s league now, and you need the great guard play.

Mac

June 1st, 2009
3:49 pm

Man, you’re a blogging machine. I love it. Yeah, Billy Knight’s work put together a roster good enough to back into the playoffs and somehow take the Celtics to seven games. With a little tweaking, Sund took a step forward. Now, the Hawks seem like they are probably stuck … maybe never to have that ascendant star. Unless, unless Josh Smith can grow into that player. A guy named Williams cannot. But could a guy named Horford?

Daniel

June 1st, 2009
3:57 pm

Mark-
I like your stuff and I really appreciate the attention that you keep focusing on the Hawks. But, the Hawks need a player like LeBron, Kobe, or Howard to make the finals? Really? Wow, now that is some cutting edge insight. What team doesn’t need that? BTW- Having LeBron, Barkley, Ewing, AI, or the mighty CP3 does not mean that you will win either. So what does that mean? Only super-super stars can win an NBA championship or do you become that once you have won. Carmelo Anthony? Deron Williams? Tracy McGrady? not super super stars? Is Kevin Durant? The story is not over on these Hawks… Marvin, Josh and Al have as much upside as any combo in the league. We need veteran depth and we can make a run. Also, Kevin Garnett changed teams.

The Real Fan

June 1st, 2009
4:06 pm

You cannot trade the #1 pick in the NBA so those proposed trades were not possible. The Hawks need a scorer in the draft, one who can get his own shot off. Not a point guard. As long as Joe is the only pseudo-scorer we will see what happened in the playoffs to his numbers. We need more consistent scoring options. We can trade for a usable center for say two years. Trade Marvin. Move Al to strong forward (his natural position). Then we aren’t beaten up by teams with real center size.

tyger

June 1st, 2009
4:07 pm

Dang Mark,

As soon as you start regaining your credibility, you go and shoot yourself in the foot. My 5 yr. old knows we would be better with Lebron/Kobe/Dwight. I guess anything is better than nothing.

gte268p

June 1st, 2009
4:21 pm

I only read the caption under the picture on the sports page, but why do we have to keep bringing up the past for the Hawks? We know all this, we know they could have had Chris Paul as a superstar. But why keep dwelling? The future is looking pretty good! We have a star in Joe Johnson. And he is far better than any other star on other teams because he is low key, down to earth, doesn’t neet attention, does his job, and doesn’t complain. He should be the one fathers want kids to have as a role model. I don’t want a muppet superstar that has to be coddled!

Joe

June 1st, 2009
4:26 pm

Stop your shoulda, wouda, coulda, and deal with reality, the Hawks are what they are, stop living in the past and concentrate your thoughts and energy on what we should do now to improve the team, who we should draft, or how we can sign and trade to improve the team, what affordable free agents should the Hawks sign, how can we train and make our big men play better both offensively and defensively, how can we coach better and stop running all plays through Johnson, how can we spread the ball around to run plays inside for the big men to score and be there for the offensive rebounds, how we can improve our players’ medium range jump shots, how can we reduce the deadly turnovers, find three point shooters. Those are the things the Hawks coaches, players and GM should be discussing and planning for implementation.

Mark Bradley

June 1st, 2009
4:34 pm

That was kind of my hope with this one. I was always uncomfortable after “regaining my credibility.” Couldn’t wait to get rid of it.

Volman

June 1st, 2009
4:39 pm

Good article, Mr. Bradley…but very obvious. We all know that the Hawks didn’t get Deron Williams or Chris Paul…and that the team would be SO MUCH BETTER with them right now (I don’t even want to think about it)

I don’t think Roy is better than Joe…but I’d rather have Roy than Shelden Williams (what a terrible pick) or what came of Shelden (Bibby). If you say that the Hawks drafted Paul over Marvin, then the Hawks would not have Marvin OR Horford.

Let’s just hope they can get some more “semi-stars”..I guess.

I don’t know why any superstars want to come to Atlanta.. the fans bow down to them anytime they show up.

[...] Why the Atlanta Hawks are still wishing upon a star Atlanta Journal Constitution – GA, USA Give the Hawks the guy on the left and they might be playing the guy on the right for the title. The annual chorus is in fine voice. … See all stories on this topic [...]

Volman

June 1st, 2009
4:41 pm

Whoops, I don’t know why any superstars DO NOT want to come to Atlanta. My fault!

ATLien78

June 1st, 2009
4:42 pm

How about give the Hornets the guy on the right, and maybe they’ll be in the finals as well. Didn’t the Hornets draft and trade Kobe for Vlade Divac back in ‘96? For as much grief as the Hawks get for not taking Chris Paul, the Hornets should get double that for not keeping Kobe. When Chris Paul came out, he had so many questions (height, frame, character issue during the ACC tournement) about his playing ability. Marvin was the consensus best player that year. The year Dwight came out, Billy Knight was trying to move up to grab him (or Okafor) by trading both first round picks, but neither Charlotte or Orlando would move. And as much as I thought Brandon Roy was a good pick for the Hawks, he was nothing more than another Joe Johnson.

Kent

June 1st, 2009
4:49 pm

Arghhhhhhhhh! Can’t we please just move on? How many different ways can it be said that the Hawks should have drafted Chris Paul?

II-Logical

June 1st, 2009
4:51 pm

I believe that the point Mr. Bradley was trying to make is that POOR MANAGEMENT decisions have doomed the Hawks in the past and he is WARNING current management AND fans not to repeat the past!

But with the current incumbant GM’s track record ?????

Astro Joe

June 1st, 2009
4:53 pm

Other than AI’s Philly team, I’ve been trying to think of a team that has won the conference without big-time All-Star front-court player. Detroit had Ben Wallace who was the dominant force in their dominating defense. Until CP3 brings a golden trophy to Nawlins (with a front court that made $32M last year vs. the Hawks at around $20M), I find it a little challenging to believe that he would have led us past last year’s Celtics or this year’s Magic. Unless, of course, CP3 was going to shut down KG or Dwight. And let’s not even discuss CP3 vs. Billups… I’m guessing the little man is still having nightmares about that 50+ point loss. Yes, we definitely would have been better (and far more entertaining), but I doubt the trophy shelf would have looked any different.

Melvin

June 1st, 2009
4:54 pm

Mark,

If the Hawks want to land a star. They better draft John Wall in the 2010 draft. He’s next best thing. Not sure how they will have the opportunity to do that, when they should be good enough to make the playoffs next season… I know wishful thinking. That kid will be wearing a Knicks Jersey in 2010 (can you say Pat Ewing conspiracy all over again).

newkid

June 1st, 2009
5:10 pm

Okay, let’s say you do ‘draft them’. Before you draft them, you must first properly evaluate their attributes and determine who will or won’t be a star. The Lakers pursuit of a young Kobe was far more about effective player evaluation than about luck. Our numerous fumbled opportunities to select difference makers (i.e., a #2, a #3, a #5, and a #6 within what a 4-year span) says our system for evaluating players is about as effective as our offensive schema. Don’t know if Sund brought along his own player evaluation system, or retained the poor excuse that was in place when he inked the contract last year, but his draft history says it doesn’t matter much which is in fact true. If results are any indication, Stevie Wonder would have been as optically astute as have Knight and Sund in critically observing and selecting star talent (love ya Stevie, but there’s a reason you leave the driving to others isn’t there?).

If we had demonstrated an ability to properly evaluate talent, I’d argue that we – provided we had identified a sure fire star – should make the moves necessary with several ‘wanna be star’ players we currently have so as to position ourselves to acquire that REAL star in the draft. But we’d blow the pick sure as hell, and be left with a side even less well suited for competing.

Regarding the draft, if our recent past is prologue, we’re in deep, deep ….

freshd

June 1st, 2009
5:15 pm

Mr. Candace Parker(SW) now plays for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Williams was BK worst draft pick. The hawks could have had a superstar in that draft, but all they got was a LANDLORD who played like a slumlord.

rms

June 1st, 2009
5:16 pm

Those guards such as Roy, D. Williams, CP3 would far better if they were playing in the East vs playing in the West. Just like the Hawks would have never made the playoffs last season with their record if they were in the West and even this year would easily have been a lower seed had they been in the West. I just think the competition is far more competitive from an individual standpoint in the West than in the East.

Dejay

June 1st, 2009
5:23 pm

Yep, right on cue. I knew folks would be here harping about ‘moving on’ and not ‘dwelling on the past’. That’s the problem, Mark. This is the same franchise who has the longest run of not drafting an All-Star/Pro-Bowl player in North American pro sports (25 years and counting) yet we’re supposed to gloss over the fact that we had not one but TWO shots to get a game-changer and blew it? Those blown picks have a direct corolation as to why they couldn’t even compete with Cleveland and the Labrons in the second round, much less why we had to sit through nearly a decade of wretched basketball before they finally back-doored into an 8th seed a year ago.

That’s what makes being a lifelong Hawk fan so frustrating. We’ve seen Miami win a world title. We’ve seen other teams from the expansion era make deep playoff runs. We now see Orlando going to their SECOND NBA Finals. We see all this while our team, whose been here for 41 SEASONS, haven’t sniffed a conference finals since Nixon was in office. In the long-term scheme of things, are we really at the point where we’re supposed to be doing backflips over 37 and 47-win seasons right now?

My question to you and the rest of Hawk nation is how much longer do we have to wait? How many more years do we have to suffer from blown Babcock and Knight draft picks of the past? When are we going to get our payoff for all the years of watching scrubs like Koncak, Glover, Keefe, Gray, Claxton, Edwards, and Shelden Williams collect millions while countless other teams pass us by, all in the name of the ‘process’? How many more Chris Paul commercials we have to sit through before we realize just how bass-ackwards Billy Knight was for 1) passing on him in the first place, and 2) breaking off $25 million to his injury-prone backup a year later, knowing full well that ownership was already having $$$ issues.

I get that they’ve climbed a long way from the Babcock/Kasten/Kruger/Stotts error (spelled correctly). I get that they advanced to the second round. But if you’re satisfied with just that, you may want to talk to a Hawk fan from 1999 or 1988 who watched their teams get stale while the front office blew picks and sat on their hands when the iron was still hot; if you can find any.

Astro Joe

June 1st, 2009
5:24 pm

How many teams won less than 35 games in the West vs. the East? Is it because the teams are so good at the top or because they feast on the likes of the Clippers, Thunder and T’Wolves? Well, if the Bucks, Nets and Bobcats played the Clippers, Thunder and T’Wolves, I’d put my mortgage payment on those Eastern teams.

freshd

June 1st, 2009
5:28 pm

If Ty Lawson or Eric Maynor falls to the hawks they better draft them. Hope they dont screw up again.

Mark Bradley

June 1st, 2009
5:31 pm

I’ve said it before, but even the Hawks insiders who will defend the pick of Marvin Williams to this day have never understood why Billy picked Shelden.

Big Ray

June 1st, 2009
5:33 pm

Mark,

Yes, Billy’s draft gaffes haunt us still. Hard to escape that ghost, but then, some people will always be happy with just making the playoffs every year, and never doing any better than that.

Yeah, two all-star level guards would definitely have gotten us nowhere. Yes, most teams who have won the championship have had a superstar big or something of that ilk. However, I’d rather have two all-star guards and be able to pay money for good solid bigs than have one all-star guard and one guy who is getting paid like one, while not even using the good bigs that we have to the best of their ability.

Welcome to the world of the Hawks….and some of their fans.

jhan

June 1st, 2009
5:33 pm

If all the teams in the West were so good how did so many of them end up with great records? Seems to me that the West was pretty weak after the first tier of playoff teams. Didn’t the Hawks have a winning record against the West?

Big Ray

June 1st, 2009
5:36 pm

Mark,

I don’t understand EITHER pick. I mean, how can you defend the Marvin Williams pick? Even if you CAN, then you HAVE to condemn the coach immediately.

Our highest pick in who knows how long is STILL THE 4TH OPTION ON OFFENSE!!!

Is it because he was never a talent worthy of that pick, or because Woody doesn’t know how to use him?

Pick your poison, I guess….

BrittishAnger

June 1st, 2009
5:38 pm

A star helps, but reliance on star power alone is a failure in and of itself. There is no denying what teams like the Lakers, Cavaliers, and others have with them, but the reliance on star power alone if a failing strategy for this league or any league. Lebronny just got ousted, not because of his star performance or Dwights for that matter, but for what their respective benches did as a back-up for their star. The Laker’s best teams have never been one-man shows; Shaq and Kobe, Magic and Kareem, go back further into those champion teams and it isn’t a result of ONE superstar, it’s several, and a squad backing them up with enough potential power to step up when necessary (Big Shot Bob every bloody time). Look at the years of A.I. in Philly, and the numbers he put up: nobody doubts what a star power he was and still is, but he always did it alone, never with the proper back-up or strategy to get them that elusive championship. While a superstar would help our ranks, it doesn’t make up for a supporting cast which doesn’t support, for lack of better terminology. On the chess board of life, there are pawns, rooks, knights, bishops, along with the Queen and King…and the best player uses each piece effectively, not just one….

on a side note: anybody know how much money Cleavland, in association with Nike and whoever else is fronting the cash, spent in the last two years in Advertising? Seems like such a waste to spend all that dough and not see the results of it….diminishing returns is a mug, ninjas….

Rufus1

June 1st, 2009
5:38 pm

Superstars are not just drafted, they are made. We have and offensive system that wants 5 players to average 15 points a game. What star averages 15 points

Big Ray

June 1st, 2009
5:39 pm

….strange, I don’t remember US feasting on the Bucks, Nets and Bobcats….is it because they were so tough, or because we weren’t as good as we should be?

BugKiller

June 1st, 2009
5:40 pm

Mark, this is something that’s the ultimate catch-22 for the Hawks and Hawks fans.

Because I KNOW for a fact, that Al Horford can become a 20-10, or even a 25-15 SUPERSTAR in the next few years, and if the Hawks got Paul, D. Williams, or Brandon Roy, they wouldn’t ever have had the chance to draft Horfy.

There is one caveat to Al Horford becoming the guy that I (and you) knows he can be: Mike Woodson.

Horford is a four. He’s a power forward. He NEEDS to be playing power forward. NOT center. He will never reach his offensive potential playing center.

But Woodson seems to be immovable on this. I understand, the Hawks don’t have a “true” center, so they must rely on Horfy at the five.

But how much better would this team be with Zaza at center, Horfy at pf, Josh Smith at sf, Johnson and Bibby in the backcourt, and then Marvin Williams coming off the bench with Flip to create an amazingly deep second core of players?

This is what the Hawks must do next year. Find a center / power forward who’s good for 15 minutes a game as a reserve, so Zaza and Horfy can be on the floor at the same time. Then make Williams, a scorer and defensive liability the new Josh Childress, with Flip providing the spark.

A team like that can beat the LeBrons.

Horfy at the four. Imagine the possibilities. I have visions of a more svelt Barkley, or a less ball-hoggy Karl Malone.

Mark Bradley

June 1st, 2009
5:45 pm

Didn’t the Boston Celtics win a title with Kendrick Perkins at center? Is Al Horford not a better player than Kendrick Perkins?

Here’s another exercise. (It’s one Sund asked me to do in our interview two weeks ago.) Name 10 better centers than Al Horford. And I’ll spot you Howard, Shaq and Yao.

Rufus1

June 1st, 2009
5:48 pm

Marvin williams IS best the best player BK drafted. If we had a coach who could develop players, we would know that by now. The best Smooth will ever be is KENYON MARTIN. Marvin has the potenial to be a 240lb Rashard Lewis, who can rebound and defend….If watched the Game against the T’wolves, when he scored 30 points.

Please Rick don’t trade Marvin, YOU WILL REGRET IT!!!!

Dawgs2009

June 1st, 2009
5:49 pm

Thank GOD we don’t have to endure another couple of weeks of his majesty. I have had all I can handle of the LeBron James show. It was so nice to watch the Cavs get humiliated by the Magic, especially after watching the series with the Hawks.

BugKiller

June 1st, 2009
5:52 pm

Mark, I’m not saying he’s not good at center.

But are you telling me he wouldn’t be better at power forward? ‘Cause if you are, you better watch out that your nose doesn’t grow too big.

Al is a tremendous athlete and has a competitive drive on par with the greats, like MJ or Tiger Woods. This is what makes him a good player playing out of position.

He’s a GOOD center.

He’d be a GREAT power forward.

Don’t you see how that hampers him?

Kevin Garnett would have been a good center.

You see where I’m going with this line of thought?

Why hold back someone who’d be truly great at another position just because you can’t work around finding someone serviceable (whom they already have in Zaza) at center?

Zaza is at least as good as Kendrick Perkins.

So let Horford become Garnett. Let him reach his potential.

Otherwise, he’ll just be another good center in this league who’s easily forgotten or lumped in with vast number of “eh” centers from the last ten years.

Mr. Phil (formerly Scoobysnacks)

June 1st, 2009
5:56 pm

You state that you don’t want to beat a dead horse, and then you brutalize the same expired equine. Mark, *hello* the man who made those decisions is gone. Doesn’t anybody know that yet. Why are we rehashing this cow manure. Tell me what we are going to do now, otherwise shut up! Jeez.

Rufus1

June 1st, 2009
5:58 pm

MARK

I agree with you about AL…So who is causing the rebounding problem?

cdog

June 1st, 2009
6:04 pm

MARK, A SUPERSTAR WILL HELP BUT YOU NEED PLAYERS WHO ARE WILLING TO PLAY AS TEAM AND COMMIT TO DEFENSE. DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS.WE HAVE A BUNCH OF PLAYERS WHO DON’T KNOW THEIR ROLES ON THE TEAM.THEY TRY TO DO TOO MUCH ON BOTH ENDS INSTEAD OF PLAYING WITHIN THEIR SELVES. THEY ARE NOT COMMITED TO PLAYING DEFENSE. JOE JOHNSON IS A SUPERSTAR WHO LIKE LEBRON NEEDS HELP. A GOOD BIG MAN WILL ELEVATE NOT ONLY HIS GAME BUT THE WHOLE TEAMS.THATS WHY LEBRON IS REALLY MAD. THE MAJIC PUT THAT DEFENSE ON HIM AND HIS GROUP WHO EVERYONE THOUGHT WAS INVINCIBLE. DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS. LOOK AT DETROIT IN THE PAST.THE HAWKS ARE A GOOD BIG MAN WHO CAN CONTROL THE MIDDLE AWAY FROM TURNING THE CORNER TO AN NBA TITLE

Mark Bradley

June 1st, 2009
6:06 pm

I don’t know why it happened, Rufus, but Josh Smith’s rebounding average dropped from 8.2 to 7.2 from 2007-2008 to 2008-2009.

And I know exactly what you’re going to say: “Because he was out there shooting 22-footers!” Actually, no. His offensive rebounding numbers were essentially the same. It’s the defensive rebounding that suffered. And it shouldn’t have.

Mark Bradley

June 1st, 2009
6:09 pm

And I don’t agree about Horfy being better at 4 than at 5. He looks more comfortable to me with his back to the basket than facing up. (He’s OK facing up, but I really like his post moves.)

I think this is one of those topics we Atlantans will debate for years. KInd of like, “Why doesn’t Bobby Cox play Ryan Klesko against lefthanders?” Or, “How come Jerious Norwood doesn’t get the ball more?”

Brad

June 1st, 2009
6:14 pm

The Chris Paul situation has been run into the ground. We all know about it. No sense beating a dead horse. Just have to look forward to the future.

BugKiller

June 1st, 2009
6:20 pm

Okay, we’ll agree to disagree.

As to Bobby Cox, well, the answer there is that he’s not only the worst post-season manager in the history of Major League Baseball (a historical fact based upon his inept handling of some of the best teams in baseball history in October), he’s also the single most overrated manager in baseball history, the beneficiary of the talent assembled by the greatest GM in baseball history.

Najeh Davenpoop

June 1st, 2009
6:24 pm

You know, watching the Cavs, you know what they lack? A Joe Johnson. Just sayin is all…

Edo River

June 1st, 2009
6:30 pm

While you do safely repeat that the underlying theme of your song is “to flog a horse deader than Man ’o War,” you basically resort to that throughout your article. How many times do you think repeating this will do any good? It is basically sour grapes. This is the issue where you become another splinter under a toe nail to read Mark, it prevents you from rising to a higher rank in sports journalism. I felt the same way about Terrence. It isn’t your technique, its what you focus on. Whining is not going to get you more than the votes that another famous trash radio host gets. Yet, I grant you, you can get a Mc Donalds feast from it. So keep on whining Mark, because that’s the god you have set your talent towards. I hope it makes you satisfied.

willie

June 1st, 2009
6:31 pm

It has nothing to do with not having a center…Horford is more than adequate there. We are missing that one more star player and that will be very hard to find, while keeping Joe at the same time.

rms

June 1st, 2009
6:32 pm

Nice post Dejay, 5:23pm, I agree wholeheartly. I think we are just content with mediocrity all in the name of “process”.

BRAD

June 1st, 2009
6:33 pm

I’ve said this before. Hindsight is 20/20. but if the Hawks had drafted Chris Paul, they would not have HORFORD, BIBBY, or MARVIN. Is Paul better than these 3 players combined–HELL NO!! Perfect example, look what happened to the Hornets against the Nuggets. They were destroyed–including a 58 point loss at home!!!!! Billups was the best point guard on the court during that series. Paul is great, but if he were a Hawk, we would be talking about some kid named Horford, who plays for another team. Horford will be holding down the interior for the Hawks for the next 10 years.

Jody

June 1st, 2009
6:37 pm

Mark,

I’ll have to agree with BugKiller on this one. Horford at the four, with his back to the basket, would have a size advantage and would force double teams as opposed to now. In fact, look at the monster game that he had against Chicago in Chicago as evidence of what he could do nightly with a size advantage in his favor instead of trying to outmuscle guys who are bigger.

Mark Bradley

June 1st, 2009
6:38 pm

Dejay, having experienced both of those Hawks “plateaus” — Rankin Smith word — I can report that part of me wonders if we’re about to happen on another. Given the number of free agents on this roster; given the difficulty in finding immediate help at No. 19 in the draft; given the Atlanta Spirit’s in-flux status … this could easily go wrong in a hurry.

And that — dead horse again — was kind of my point. A franchise only gets so many swings.