The Embarrassing Franchise known as the Atlanta Hawks

I don’t know who is going to read this, but if you know anything about me, you know I’m a diehard Hawks fan. After the abysmal showing in the most lopsided 2nd round series in the history of the NBA, I don’t know how much more I can take. The Orlando Magic and Dwight Howard, stuck it to us like a high school freshman girl getting DP’ed.

When the Milwaukee Bucks take you to 7 games, without Andrew Bogut, and you get swept and beat by an average of 30 points by the Magic, there’s something wrong. The franchise took one step in the right way by not retaining Mike Woodson, which was announced earlier this week. Woodson’s inability to get the most out of his players was evident when each player started doing their own thing, and the things that made them fail throughout the season. Bibby jacked transition 3s, Joe dribbled the ball around for 22 seconds then shot a fadeaway with a hand in his face, Marvin hid in the corner, Josh took terrible jump shots after 2 fakes, a spin, and never moving from the area he caught the ball in, Horford played PG, and Jamal would throw up ridiculous shots.

This is my attempt to show how poorly coached, and pride-less this group was.

Let me break down the roster,

Mike Bibby (PG): Just one of the many good NBA players to come out of Arizona, Bibby was acquired to be Joe Johnson’s scoring relief, he was just picked up a couple years too late. Bibby played well is spurts this season, but he’s literally the worst defender in the NBA. There’s no hope in winning a big series or even a big game without hardnosed, on-ball defense, and that is his worst quality. He was able to get away with it playing with the Sacramento Kings, but he had a better defensive running mate in Doug Christie, who could take the other teams best perimeter player and shut him down. Joe and Jamal are definitely not known for being defensive minded, and at times don’t even show a willingness to defend, and you can’t win championships with that mentality. Bibby played well when he could make open jumpers and keep the defense honest, but he’s just not the player he used to be. Granted, he was the best available option when he was acquired, but he’s not the answer to the Hawks’ need for a premiere PG.

My advice: Trade him, he’s got two more years left on his deal, so it may be hard to get much in return. With all the hype in this year’s upcoming free agency sweepstakes, not many teams are going to want to take on his salary, about $11 million over the next two years. If we can get anything for him, we need to get rid of him and try to develop Teague, or go out and spend some money on a better player.

Prediction: Knowing our management, we will probably try to get by with him being our stater for one more year. Let’s just hope, whoever our new coach is, that they can give Teague some run and allow Bibby to come in and shoot his jumpers.

One other note, he’s one ugly dude. Not as bad as Robert Swift, but he’s close.

The not-so-much Great White Hope

Joe Johnson(SG):

In one of the most pathetic showings in recent memory, Joe was literally booed by the Atlanta fans for his complacent and god-awful play against the Magic. He was voted to his 4th straight All-star team this year, and lead the team in scoring, but he’s not the franchise player we gave so much up to acquire. Some of his laziness can be blamed on the stagnant offensive sets Mike Woodson put the team in. Countless times this season, our offense was an iso for Joe, and let the rest of the freakishly athletic play makers we have stand and watch. That, of course, is not championship basketball either. I think the thing that Hawks fans started to notice was the lack of intensity that he plays with. He’s got one of the best jumpers in the NBA, but he was not aggressive enough to get an open midrange shot that he’s so good at. Joe’s not a franchise player, but he’s the Hawks best player. Your best player needs to be the leader, and I don’t think he has what it takes to take this team to the next level, not unless he realizes the talent he has around him and start playing with a killer instinct.  One of the most frustrating things when watching Joe, is his lack of emotion on the court.

The one time I can vividly remember him actually showing he cared is when he crossed over Leon Powe and drained a 3, staring down Powe who had fallen to the ground.

Hopefully, he realizes his flaws and becomes a top-tier player, but he needs some help, and needs to be the 2nd option.

Prediction- As we all know, Joe is just one of the big name players in free agency, a list that includes LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh (real franchise players), as well as Amare Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer, great second options for championship caliber teams. Joe will get his money, whether it be from the Hawks, or another club willing to spend the money on him. I personally think he’s gone from Atlanta. He had a great run, but no good players are known as great until they’ve won a title, and I think he knows that, which is why he will probably take less money, say from Miami, and go play with Dwayne Wade.

As frustrating as it is, he was our best player, but not good enough, kind-of like a orgasm that never happens.

Marvin Williams(SF): The biggest question concerning Marvin is, when is he going to develop into the kind of player he was drafted to become. We took him 3rd overall in the draft that including Chris Paul and Deron Williams, 2 of the top 5 PG’s in the game now. (Management is shitting themselves after that mistake). Marvin’s case is a lot like Joe’s, he’s just not aggressive enough to utilize the god-given talent and tools he possesses. He made some strides this season by making the corner 3 fairly consistently, and playing some lock-down defense. But in the playoffs, he faded. You’ve got to have your best players on the court for most of the game in the playoffs, and Jamal’s offense was better than William’s sub-par effort. He’s got all the right tools to be a perfect small forward in the NBA, but he’s going to need to get a mean streak. If we don’t retain Joe, maybe Marvin will emerge, but from what he’s shown us, it won’t happen. He’s still young, and maybe the new coach can help in his development. I still have faith, but its fading.

Prediction: Marvin will be a Hawk for the next couple years, but he would be a great asset in a sign-and-trade deal with Joe for a more premiere player. His willingness to become a better player has to be more forthcoming for him to stick around much longer though.

Josh Smith(PF): I have to get this off my chest, and if I could say it to his face I would, but Josh has got to stop whining. He’d get so many more easy opportunities to score if he would just play the game and not worry about the refs. Most NBA players argue a call here or there, and then there are the whiners. He reminds me of a young Rasheed Wallace who wanted to prove himself to the point where he thought if he got touched there should be a foul call. ‘Sheed still complains a lot, but he matured in Detroit when they were atop the east a few years back, but Josh hasn’t won anything, so he shouldn’t expect to get superstar calls.

That being said, Josh is another one of the Hawks players who has so much talent, but just not the right system for him. He grew up a lot this season, mostly by taking jumpshots out of his game, at least until the playoffs. His defensive minded play helped him earn 2nd team all defensive honors as well as 2nd in the voting of the Defensive Player of the Year. As a Hawks fan, one of the greatest moments in a game is when Josh swats a shot and takes it down court for his signature lefthanded slam. His immaturity quickly came back in the playoffs though, as evidence from the pounding by the Magic. But that also has to do in part with the Coach. It seemed like anytime there was any adversity during a game, everyone’s worst qualities came out. Josh can be a great player, which he showed. He’s needs to develop some integrity and allow himself to play to the best of his abilities.

Prediction: Josh will most likely not be moved in the near future. As with other Hawks, he would benefit greatly from a true number one guy. If they could somehow keep Joe and get another big name player, Josh would make his first all-star team and be a great asset to a championship caliber team. You can’t teach athleticism, but you can teach consistency, which is exactly what he needs.

I hope he can be the player that he is capable of, but his stubbornness is like asking a kid to give you their candy.

Al Horford(C): Al had a great season, probably the most consistent player we have, and all the tools to become the next Tim Duncan. He’s undersized for playing the center position, and we don’t run an uptempo style offense that would allow him to utilize his skills against bigger defenders. He’s the only proven winner on the Hawks roster, winning 2 NCAA championships with the hated Gators, and he has the heart and will to win. If we can get a true center to play alongside Horford, the sky is the limit. His game would improve, a lot like Pau Gasol’s did with the emergence of Andrew Bynum.

Horford needs to be our main building block. Bring in a big man to play with him, allow Josh Smith to take on more of a Lamar Odom role, and then get a better PG to put them all in the right position, that’s more like a championship team we’re capable of being.

Bench

Jamal was a great addition, bringing scoring from the bench that we lacked from years before, but he also is a terrible defender. Zaza is a formidable backup center and one of the more popular players in the locker room, and many say he’s the best dressed on the team. His girlfriend’s not bad either.

Cool Glasses

Mo Evans is an adequate defender and can knock down the corner 3, but he’s not the first wing player we need coming off the bench. Teague as a lot of potential, but got stuck on the bench most of the season with Woodson at the realm. Another summer of training and working and I think he could be a good PG in this league.

I think it’s pretty clear what we need to compete for a championship. 1- a coach that will have some accountability and add toughness to a group of young talented guys, and allow the athletes to become a great defensive team. 2 – a defensive style PG that can run a fast paced offense. 3 – A true center to take the burden off Horford and guard the bigger centers in the league. 4 – A true premier player to allow everyone else to take a step back in their role and allow them to play the type of games their capable of. 5 – Maturity and a killer instinct.

It’s going to be an interesting offseason. There are many directions management can take. Hopefully they will be spending money to keep Joe and get someone else to be the number 1 guy. I doubt it will happen, but all the right pieces are in place.

Thanks for reading, I will post as I have time. Conference finals are starting, finals are soon, and the offseason will be interesting.

Hopefully this attempt wasn’t as poor as the Hawks showing in the playoffs.

– I’d end with a joke, but it doesn’t really matter, a lot like Drew Carey’s jokes.

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