The new Hawks have a new problem: Too many players

Jamal Crawford (in white above the key) is one of many new Hawks. (Photo by M. Bradley)

Jamal Crawford (in white above the key) is one of many new Hawks. (Photo by M. Bradley)

Mike Woodson might have too many players. As problems go, this is among the better ones. Indeed, it beats the heck out of the issue Woodson faced when he arrived here in 2004 — having no players whatsoever.

“That team [the 2004-05 Hawks, who lost 69 games] was gutted,” Woodson said Wednesday, speaking before the grown-up Hawks were to open their season against Indiana. “We were in rebuilding mode. We counted on young guys to get better — Marvin [Williams] and Smoove [Josh Smith] and Al [Horford], and even Joe [Johnson] was young — and they have. And if they continue to grow, we’ve got a chance to be in the hunt the next three or four years.”

And they do. But first Woodson has to wrangle a roster unlike any he has had. He has to find minutes for 11 legitimate NBA players, and not many teams ever placate 11 men. So, Woodson was asked, can he?

“It’s something I haven’t done,” he said. “And I will not sacrifice games just to satisfy someone.”

Then this: “It’s important to get a rotation down, and I haven’t quite done that yet. You can’t find 30 minutes a night for 11 or 12 guys.”

Fun with numbers: The Hawks kept seven of their top eight players, drafted Jeff Teague, traded for Jamal Crawford and signed Joe Smith and Jason Collins as free agents. That makes 11 men, 10 of whom have professional pedigrees. And Woodson says of Teague: “He played well enough in preseason to earn some time on the floor. I’m going to play him tonight.”

But now the Hawks have six perimeter players — Mike Bibby, Johnson, Crawford, Teague, Williams and Mo Evans. As Woodson conceded: “It’s not going to be easy to play all six.” Especially if Johnson slides to small forward and takes some minutes there.”

More Woodson: “I wasn’t interested in bringing young guys in [this summer]. We needed veteran guys who’d fit a piece of the puzzle. Our draft choice is going to be our young guy now. And if [Teague] continues to do it over a long haul, he’ll get minutes. I’ve been pretty pleased so far.”

The interior riddle is simpler: Five men for two positions. Horford and Josh Smith to start, Zaza Pachulia and Joe Smith and Collins to relieve.

“It’s important for [bench] guys to know their roles,” Woodson said. “Jamal has got to score. Joe Smith has to defend and rebound. Jason Collins has to defend and give hard fouls and do the dirty work … You’ve got to play well enough to earn your time on the floor.”

There will be difficult moments ahead. Not everyone will work enough to suit him, and one or two will say so publicly. But that’s OK. So long as Woodson establishes a working second unit and eases the load on his starters, the increased depth will yield an increase in victories. Besides,  it’s better to have good guys sitting than not have them at all.

“I remember last year after Al got hurt those two times,” Woodson said. “We were exposed. Al’s the one guy I feared going down. But having Joe Smith and Collins, that’s a help.”

It is. Still, it will take some time to assimilate these glad new tidings. The Hawks having too much talent: What’s next? The Thrashers having a glut at goaltender?

And with that: The floor is open for your questions, comments, song requests. I’ll be honored and privileged to chat with any and all of you during tonight’s game. Which I believe the Hawks will win by 23 points.

206 comments Add your comment

Gilley

October 28th, 2009
6:35 pm

I always wondered why Woody never played young guys when the season was lost anyway. Thats how you would see what you have but he would rather overplay vets than to let young guys go out there and learn. Not like it would have cost the Hawks wins. I digress

I am predicting 50 wins for the Hawks and a Conference Finals appearance. Optimistic but thats my prediction.

Woody shouldnt play Teague just because he played good in preseason but because he is a good player and should be developed. Playing is how you are developed.

Mark Bradley

October 28th, 2009
6:36 pm

I’m predicting 54 wins and advancement to the Eastern Conference finals. Somehow I’ve turned into this raging optimist.

Belvedere

October 28th, 2009
6:36 pm

Primero! Hope this is the start of a special year for the Hawks.

Belvedere

October 28th, 2009
6:38 pm

Crap.. Make that tercero!

Mark Bradley

October 28th, 2009
6:42 pm

Uno, dos, tres … does it really matter in the grand scheme?

NoleRick

October 28th, 2009
6:43 pm

No one in the National Media is giving this team a chance. I get the feeling that the Hawks are about to prove alot of people wrong. I live in Orlando and when they mention the Eastern Conference, no one every mentions the Hawks. Rise up time to re-shock the world!

Wink

October 28th, 2009
6:47 pm

Mark,

Woody want be able to handle the added depth. Game situations & matchup should dictate who plays. I don’t trust him to do have the things he says he will do. Example, Teague as I see it is the only one who can stay in front of TJ Ford on defense, he should already be counted on to get minutes tonight. Woody said he will play tonight. I hope so as he is needed.

Delbert D.

October 28th, 2009
6:49 pm

I played a little game last year. Anytime Zasa got any significant playing time, I’d double his minutes and it would come up with a double-double. Except for the times it came up with 8 fouls. Good guy to keep on the team.

hawkfan

October 28th, 2009
6:49 pm

Wow there sure are a lot of Hawks fans chatting it up! Nice post MB and I expect the Hawks to win tonight and I say Eastern Conference Finals as well!

Mark Bradley

October 28th, 2009
6:50 pm

I know Woody wants to play more guys. But when games get tight, coaches tend to shrink their bench. And that’s not just him. That’s every coach. You see it in the playoffs every year. How much did Daniel Gibson play for the Cavs in the 2009 playoffs?

Wink

October 28th, 2009
6:50 pm

Teague must play tonight to guard TJ Ford. I hope Woody gives him minutes as he stated. I just don’t trust Woody to do what he says he will do??

Robert Yates

October 28th, 2009
6:51 pm

I’ve watched nearly every game of this massive turnaround. It seemed like the day would never come that the Hawks could be called legitimate. Well, here we are. Now if we could just learn to win on the road…….

Mark Bradley

October 28th, 2009
6:57 pm

That’s the next step, Robert. I believe it, too, will come.

J.J.M.

October 28th, 2009
7:03 pm

is granger out?

Mark Bradley

October 28th, 2009
7:04 pm

Granger was doubtful. Introducing the starters in a minute.

Charlie Criss

October 28th, 2009
7:05 pm

WTF!

I just turned on SportsSouth. I got a test pattern and now the UT – Alabama game.

Great start to the season.

Maybe Kiffin will run a play or 2 before kickeing the field goal this time.

Mark Bradley

October 28th, 2009
7:06 pm

Granger is starting. Hansbrough not dressed. Imagine that.

Mark Bradley

October 28th, 2009
7:07 pm

I don’t want to be unduly negative, but … not much of a crowd here. Disappointing.

kevin

October 28th, 2009
7:09 pm

Where are our fans tonight lol

HawksV

October 28th, 2009
7:10 pm

Mike Bibby and Al Horford are the keys to how far the Hawks go this year!

J.J.M.

October 28th, 2009
7:10 pm

I hope fans go to games and support more this year…Last season i just went to the games when a huge name player came in town but this season ill support the hawks more.

mychelfromatl

October 28th, 2009
7:12 pm

On my way down to the arena. Hope the Hawks win big!!!!!

Ryan S

October 28th, 2009
7:12 pm

Is anyone seeing the game? I have an Alabama vs Tennessee replay…

Mark Bradley

October 28th, 2009
7:13 pm

Maybe they’ve blacked it out because the game isn’t sold out. Ho, ho.

J.J.M.

October 28th, 2009
7:15 pm

josh looks smaller

Kurdt Kobain

October 28th, 2009
7:15 pm

Think the faceplant last friday on national tv has anything to do with the crowd? or lacktherof.

J.J.M.

October 28th, 2009
7:16 pm

the crowd doesnt look bad so far

Kurdt Kobain

October 28th, 2009
7:16 pm

or maybe its just a late arriving bunch typical of a lot of Atlanta crowds.

Hey, nice start.

Mark Bradley

October 28th, 2009
7:16 pm

First bucket of the season: Josh layup off a JJ steal.

O'Brien

October 28th, 2009
7:17 pm

My TV also has Tenn vs Ala. What’s going on here?

A Blackout on the opening night of the season? I hope not.

Mark Bradley

October 28th, 2009
7:17 pm

First opposing bucket: Hibbert follow off a T.J. Ford miss.

Ryan S

October 28th, 2009
7:17 pm

What channel are you all watching it on? My guide says SportsSouth but it is not the game…

Charlie Criss

October 28th, 2009
7:18 pm

Sportsouth isn’t even doing a crawl to let us know what’s going on.

I’m listening on 790. Fortunately I live inside the perimeter.

reedeak

October 28th, 2009
7:19 pm

wow…crowd is dead

Mark Bradley

October 28th, 2009
7:19 pm

The game’s on something. I just saw it on the TV here. But I don’t know what channel that was.

jacket3

October 28th, 2009
7:19 pm

It’s available on the Direct Sports package…although I am not going to pay the extra money to watch pro-basketball. College hoops are the best anyway…no prancin’ or dancin’, or struttin’ for that matter.

Hope the Hawks have a good season, they have the talent…if they use it correctly to be there at the end of the season….lets’ see how they do. Let us know 10 games into the season…we will know more about chemistry then. Enjoy yourself. Eat the press box food!

Mark Bradley

October 28th, 2009
7:20 pm

Good thing we’re doing this live chat, eh?

Game tied at 8 after 3 1/2 minutes.

Bone

October 28th, 2009
7:20 pm

damn the crowd is quiet lol

Mark Bradley

October 28th, 2009
7:21 pm

It appears the game is on SportsSouth as advertised. At least it is now.

reedeak

October 28th, 2009
7:21 pm

Mark Bradley

October 28th, 2009
7:22 pm

All those who say Horford would dominate at power forward: He just missed from the corner. But he scored earlier on a hook over Hibbert in the lane.

Charlie Criss

October 28th, 2009
7:22 pm

It is supposed to be on Sportsouth. I heard Rathbun’s voice before that pleasant sound that accompanies a test pattern.

Mark Bradley

October 28th, 2009
7:22 pm

Hawks down 15-10. And not looking very good so far.

reedeak

October 28th, 2009
7:23 pm

bad start…play some D!!!

Mark Bradley

October 28th, 2009
7:24 pm

Uh, oh. Josh just took a three and missed.

Then he stole the ball and dunked. He’s better on dunks.

reedeak

October 28th, 2009
7:24 pm

fine josh for that jumper…bibbys d sucks

J.J.M.

October 28th, 2009
7:24 pm

Mark Bradley

October 28th, 2009
7:25 pm

It’s 18-14 Pacers at the first timeout. For a guy who was doubtful, Granger looks pretty spry.

Charlie Criss

October 28th, 2009
7:26 pm

Is anyone outside Phillips getting the the feed.

BTW, Alabama just picked off Crompton in the first, No Score

reedeak

October 28th, 2009
7:27 pm

Ha…I’m in bham and I am watching it on sportsouth