So the remade Hawks won’t be as good? Hold that thought

For the record, both these guys are still here. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Just for the record, both these worthies are still around. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Maybe we’ve got it wrong. Most of us figure the Hawks won’t be as good next season without Joe Johnson — they’re also without Marvin Williams, which seems more reason for optimism — and that not being as good is something new GM Danny Ferry is willing to accept in the short term. (One step back to take two steps forward, et cetera.) But now comes a stunningly rosy forecast that projects the new-look Hawks to …

(Pause for effect.)

Finish second in the NBA East.

It comes from Basketball Prospectus by way of ESPN Insider (link requires registration). According to BP, the Hawks will win 48.7 games, putting them behind only Miami in their conference. (Well behind, we should note. The projection is that the Heat will will win 60.5 games.) Behind the Hawks, BP slots the Knicks, the Celtics, the Bulls, the Pacers, the Nets and the 76ers.

Writes Bradford Doolittle of BP: “The Hawks’ offense without Joe Johnson will get better, trading in a lot of long jumpers for more trips to the foul line. Still, it’s not so much a matter of the Hawks’ getting better as it is the rest of the East backsliding.”

About that offense: Rob Mahoney of the New York Times’ Off the Dribble blog believes the Hawks’ offense without Johnson will continue to function because Lou Williams, signed as a free agent, will essentially fill Johnson’s role. Writes Mahoney: “Williams doesn’t in any way disturb the Hawks’ new balance; he simply replicates what was Johnson’s most prevalent offensive skill in a more selectively applicable capacity.”

Meanwhile, Beckley Mason of ESPN’s True Hoop blog network sees Jeff Teague as the key. Writes Mason:

It appears the Hawks have decided to give Teague the keys to the offense. Instead of wing isolations, the new Hawks roster is well-equipped to adopt an up-tempo, spread pick-and-roll attack more along the lines of Steve Nash’s old Suns than anything we’ve seen from Atlanta in the last five years. Expect the Hawks to incur some dings and scratches early on, but this offense has the potential to be one of the most efficient and prolific in the East.

Me, I’m not so sure the Hawks will mirror the Nash Suns. I think they might more closely resemble the teams from Ferry’s alma mater, meaning the Duke Blue Devils. Not much size, but lots of shooters — already Ferry has added Williams, Kyle Korver, Anthony Morrow and the rookie John Jenkins — and an emphasis on driving and kicking and spacing the floor.

I’m also on the record as believing the new Hawks will be a .500 team, give or take, and will do well to make the playoffs. But maybe I’m shooting too low.

Then again, maybe not. ESPN also offers a poll of what it calls “100 of the best basketball minds,” and all that assembled brainpower believes the Hawks will go 40-42 and finish eighth in the East, which means they’d make the playoffs and face Miami in Round 1.

By Mark Bradley

57 comments Add your comment

Robert

August 23rd, 2012
12:11 pm

BravesfaninAugusta

August 23rd, 2012
12:11 pm

Mark Bradley

August 23rd, 2012
12:13 pm

Kudos, Augusta.

BravesfaninAugusta

August 23rd, 2012
12:14 pm

Great news….I’m glad JJ is gone since I think Josh will step up and become the true leader of this team….exciting time for Hawks fans

Mark Bradley

August 23rd, 2012
12:14 pm

Whoops. Should have kudo’ed Robert.

BravesfaninAugusta

August 23rd, 2012
12:17 pm

Thanks Mark…it’s lame but so cool to be “first”…. Just like Braves’ hitting, it’s all about timing and some luck

Stuart

August 23rd, 2012
12:18 pm

We have six weeks before camp starts and about two months before the season starts. Lets see if Ferry makes a deal. Also he can make deals when the season starts. That isnt a bad thing because it will give him a chance to make the club better now and in the future.

GTT

August 23rd, 2012
12:18 pm

Methinks they will be as good. Wouldn’t surprise me if they were better. That Danny Ferry was able to unload that albatross of a contract still seems too good to be true.

BravesfaninAugusta

August 23rd, 2012
12:18 pm

See what I mean! Well played Robert!

GTT

August 23rd, 2012
12:22 pm

Hawks could win 50 and it’s not a stretch to think so.

jgsbirds

August 23rd, 2012
12:23 pm

i think this team can be better without joe and marvin. but i really liked last years team a lot! last years team overachieved and was in my opinion the 2nd or 3rd best team in the east last year. injuries hit the hawks last year–al horford early and the zaza injury right before the playoff was hard to overcome. zaza had an unbelievable year last year and he typically plays garnett pretty good. most people don’t realize that, especially if they only watched the hawks in the playoffs last year or in years past. last years hawks team was a better team than boston. unfortunately the injury to pachulia was too tough to overcome to win that particular series. had they got past boston–miami would have probably taken them out–we’ll never know–but the hawks played them fairly tough in the regular season as well. the bench was big all year as well only to have a bad playoff showing.

with that said this years team will have to do a lot to better itself from last years squad. but really all they would have to do is make the playoffs and win series to be considered better. i love what ferry is doing! i like teams that have the ability to make shots and on paper this group should be able to do that–josh, al, and zaza need to have injury free years and this group could go a long way. i would love to see an addition such as a mike dunleavy, alonzo gee, shawn marion, or a shane battier type of player. in the nba all you have to do is qualify for the playoffs–then you just need to get hot–any thing can happen at that point!!!!

go hawks!

Just Asking?

August 23rd, 2012
12:23 pm

Hey Mark, what draft picks did the Hawks pick up and how conditional are they?

"first" is bush-league

August 23rd, 2012
12:25 pm

The “first” epidemic… just keeps on truckin’, huh? Firsters; Mark Bradley – you know in your hearts that this is really lame. The goofiness of it takes away from my idea of Mr. Bradley as any sort of “serious journalist,” (whatever that means) even though I like a lot of what he writes. Please stop. Also: go Hawks!

All I'm Saying Is....

August 23rd, 2012
12:27 pm

If Hawks run the fast break, spread the floor for spot up threes while also making mid-range jumpers, and occasionally throw it down low for Horford to make a move, then they can be efficient and interesting to watch on offense. Defensively? Well, … let’s talk more the offensive potential! Nevertheless, Duke Ferry did what needed to be done and we are much better positioned for future success (and to heck (and Hollywood) with Dwight and his Hamlet like stay or trade me type immature dithering). If Duke Ferry can find us a young athletic true 7 footer to rebound and defend so Al can move to power forward, we can be a surprising force in the least.

LET’S GO HAWKS!

Matt

August 23rd, 2012
12:27 pm

a .500 rebuilding season, with plenty of cap space to improve in the future. I’ll take that.

ATL Goose

August 23rd, 2012
12:28 pm

This season will be nothing if not interesting. As will next off-season. Looking forward to seeing how things play out.

All I'm Saying Is....

August 23rd, 2012
12:31 pm

And, yes, for you literary types out there, I did mean to type both Duke Ferry (not Danny) and “…surprising force in the least” as in L’East as in Eastern Conference.

My only error in my typing was I meant to type “Defensively? … Well,…let’s talk more about the offensive potential!”

LET’S GO HAWKS!

falCANS

August 23rd, 2012
12:34 pm

Josh 4 President!!!

Phuch Le` Duch

August 23rd, 2012
12:36 pm

[pronounced foosh le duke]

We essentially traded Joe Johnson for Horford [out last season]
and swapped Marvin for Lou williams.

Our bench this season over last is “no contest”;
younger, faster and much better shooting,

->ergo; much better this year

I`ve always wanted to say ergo.

Heisenberg

August 23rd, 2012
12:36 pm

Even with all the shooters and revamped offense, Hawks success will come down to whether or not they can defend. That is where the Joe and Marvin loss will be felt. Josh will have to stay healthy and out of foul trouble.

Son of Sammy Davis Jr, Jr

August 23rd, 2012
12:41 pm

The Hawks will always suck until ownership change and quit using the franchise as a piggy bank.

carlton

August 23rd, 2012
12:53 pm

I just can’t believe that Ferry is finished with the remake. There’s a big man out there that is an upgrade over what we have. Mark (not you, Bradley) my words!

BasketballTopFan

August 23rd, 2012
12:53 pm

The Atlanta Hawks still have a very good basketball team.

Basketball Top Fan would like to wish them good luck and success during the 2012-2013 (NBA) National Basketball League season.

Go Hawks !!!!!

BasketballTopFan@Yahoo.com

Sage of Bluesland

August 23rd, 2012
12:56 pm

Who cares? They are still owned by the most undeserving, inept group of ownership….Not another dollar of mine for such incompetence.

tyger

August 23rd, 2012
1:05 pm

Not so rosy or resilient…

The 2012-13 Hawks will be competitive…
Only one rookie in rotation…Jenkins…
Everybody else has been around the block…

Not excited, these guys are temps…
The Hawks are speed dating…
Not bad, but hoping for better….
Only Horford, LWill, Jenkins signed 2yr+

Theoretically, the ball will move sans Joe…
Movement is fine, finishing is what counts…
Joe w/ flaws, could run w big dogs to the wire…
The rest miss game winning FT and take horrid shots…

Barring injury…frontcourt looks good…
Horford, Smith, Petro, ZaZa, Ivan is very competitive…
They’ll miss Marvin’s versatility here, but C’est la vie…

Morrow, LouWill, Korver can knock down shots for 3.5Q…
Questionable whether they can do it when needed…
Lou can and Will – the biggest get thus far…

Doubt D. Harris stays for short money…
Lou Will and J.Jenkins are the future….
Move Teague b4 he’s exposed, if not too late…

Well its the Smoove, Horford show now…
All options open and money on the table…
Horford looked bad during Olympics…
Still rusty, overmatched or just a role player?

Will Smoove respond at the pole position?
Or implode under the pressure of leadership?
Or will both be pawned for the next Christy Laettner?

JoeBgone

August 23rd, 2012
1:09 pm

hawks owners have done a good job and it keeps getting better.
what more can you ask for?

JASon

August 23rd, 2012
1:10 pm

“So the remade Hawks won’t be as good? Hold that thought”

Is your job to support the local teams now? All you can talk about is how good they all will be. I don’t trust you.

Larvell Blanks

August 23rd, 2012
1:15 pm

I’m going to go out on a limb and predict with confidence that the Hawks will not win 48.7 games.

Dozer

August 23rd, 2012
1:16 pm

Now if we can just get J-Sneer off the 3-point line this might work……..

ella

August 23rd, 2012
1:34 pm

The Hawks have done a great job in giving Danny Ferry control of the team. Ferry has invested in an expanded player development. He’s also hired a major analytical team, something the Hawks never had in the past.Very excited

Mike S.

August 23rd, 2012
1:39 pm

Well they won 60% of their games without Horford last year and secured the 4 seed in the East. I dont expect they will be much worse than that if at all. I think the inside game will be better with Horford. Devin Harris, Korver, Jenkins, Williams and Stephenson will make up for JJ, Marvin, and Hinrich leaving.

Down_With_Meebo

August 23rd, 2012
2:03 pm

I just like the idea that we now have a team worth supporting. It was torture for the past four or five years where each year just seemed like a re-run of the previous one. Ferry has done a solid job of giving the Hawks future flexibility w/out completely destroying the present competitiveness of the squad.

Meebo_is_the_Devil

August 23rd, 2012
2:12 pm

Of course, comparing this squad to the old Nash-driven Suns is about as ridiculous as ice hockey in the South… oh yeah… never mind.

Ted M

August 23rd, 2012
2:16 pm

It will at least be interesting.

Nativebird

August 23rd, 2012
2:53 pm

As long as Spachula is swallowing as many minutes as he does, this team will continue the middle of the road make the playoffs and lose in early rounds, as far as eye can see.

Sam

August 23rd, 2012
3:07 pm

I’d rather not make the playoffs than finish 8th and lose in the first round to Miami. We’ve tried to use salary cap room to our advantage in the past and it didn’t work quite so well.

I’d prefer to see us have a higher pick in the NBA draft than to watch us get swept by the Heat and pick a couple spots lower in the draft. The best way to build a championship cailber team is to build it thru the draft (unless you’re Miami and are lucky enough to land 3 superstars).

HawkGood-n-NotSo

August 23rd, 2012
3:18 pm

liked a lot of joe’s declinning game(he’ll go back up for a while)but guys replace 18 pts a game by moving a couple of these new replacement.oh yes we can,play more like lc wants (yep) he does’nt have to worry about joe’s game,now moving ball becomes easy,josh now playing like we new he could,harris and jenkins second team burners,good for me as we can and do say GO HAWKS

Stuart

August 23rd, 2012
3:25 pm

The Hawks still need some wing defenders and a big man too – really just some defenders in general. Losing Joe and Marvin is part of the process, but some pretty good D was lost with those 2 departing.

NACAA FAN#1

August 23rd, 2012
3:33 pm

I think this new look Hawks Team was needed. However, I don’t believe in the Head Coach at all. the Hawks were the only team in the Eastern Conference that had been together since their respective drafts and they were quickly surpassed by the Celtics, Bulls and Heat. When Josh Smith takes the ball to the hoop he’s one of the best players in the NBA! When he shoots the jumpers and 3 pointers he’s just awful! Don’t see Coach Drew motivating any of those players and The Heat, Celtics and Bulls will wish we never even thought about making the playoffs!

vealreal

August 23rd, 2012
3:35 pm

the hawks will be mediocre as usual and go out in round 1 of the playoffs. chumps that keep buying these tickets must have lots of money to waste.

Tired Tired Tired

August 23rd, 2012
3:41 pm

Now there is a winning marketing campaign. Come spend $40 for a hawks ticket, we aren’t as lousy as everyone thinks.

BravesFan79

August 23rd, 2012
4:26 pm

I predict no worse than a 6th seed in the playoffs. And the Hawks are going to be deadly from the outside, with Morrow, Korver and Jenkins. Lets just hope Josh Smith swallows his pride some and kicks out to those players for open shots, instead of taking long jumpers himself.

Vulture

August 23rd, 2012
4:53 pm

If you don’t like Meebo, check out http://www.ghostery.com/

Nique

August 23rd, 2012
5:07 pm

I believe that we’ll finish 6th in the East. Our bench is improved & we have ppl to space the floor for Jeff & Josh to drive more effectively & add Lo’u’s driving ability we’re in good shape. But with a healthy Al, Josh, & Jeff we’re still a solid playoff team. But i honestly believ that there’s a lot riding on this last roster wing spot because right now we’re currently in touble at that position!

michael

August 23rd, 2012
5:08 pm

wow. and i thought i have to justify a job. bradley, you’re just going thru the motions. you’re settled. try writing that book you know you always wanted. this article was fruitless. ur smarter than this.
personally, as a fan, i could care less about the hawks. i’m ready for g.t. football and college f.b. in general. nba sux. i think you know what i mean.

Hawks Blog Legend Worldwide Clyde

August 23rd, 2012
5:13 pm

Stronger bench plus a healthy Al Horford equals another 4 seed for the Hawks.

smitty derf

August 23rd, 2012
5:17 pm

All of you Josh Smith lovers amaze me. Was he improved last year , Yes , absolutely, it was encouraging. But, do you realize he led the team in turnovers(think about that please, more than both point guards combined), and in low three pt shooting, even tho he did shoot less of them. The real question is how much will he improve now that JJ is gone, will he mature, does the coach have the courage do demand more of him…..or…….will the coach continue to cater to him like all his coaches have done since he was 12 , because he is “so incredibly athletic”

alex

August 23rd, 2012
5:37 pm

all star gone, been half empty arena with him and consecutive playoff spat for several years, going to be almost empty arena if team is mediocre, seems to me stupid owners not learned lessons off operating franchise in this market. Atlanta will take only championship team here, nothing less, otherwise no excitement, no crowd here, and good luck to lure star free agent here, nobody wants to play in front of naked bleaches. i am pessimistic. check history Atlanta pro sports.

donte080

August 23rd, 2012
5:42 pm

Wouldn’t say I am a Josh Smith ‘lover’, but anyone with an IQ > 100 can see he’s improved each year in the league. He improved last year with Horford gone, why wouldn’t he improve with JJ gone, especially in his contract year???

BigTimeTECHFan

August 23rd, 2012
6:04 pm

Reminds me kind of the old Cavs teams with:
PF L Nance
C B Daugherty
G C Ehlo
G M Price
GS Kerr
G John Battle
G B Phills

That team could run and shoot, Ferry player on the team, started but they went with 3 guards a lot.