Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Almost...

Best laid plans...

You know the saying. Today was supposed to be (like Ice Cube has schooled us) a good day. End of preseason coming on Thursday at Detroit and my quick thoughts on the Atlanta Hawks bench to lead us up to next week's preseason prognostication blog, but dammit if we can't have the harmony train I've been hearing about Acie, Flip, and Mo Evans just run its course into the season before hearing the strife.

In fact the only strife I want to hear is Rick Sund saying - hmmm, the clock is ticking on Bro. Woodson, but of course before I could put all my thoughts together, I have to read about No J Smith (NJS for short) and Show Me Something Mike (from now on to be known as SMSM) in a little bitch session.

Now, I have been NJS's biggest fan and constantly feel like I have to communicate that the guy is TWENTY TWO years old, but that being said...the brother needs a serious mentor on professionalism. I love him - I want to give him a pass, but if there is anything that these new vets need to bring to this squad to elevate it - it's to impart a no nonsense business like approach to handling business consistently to our young players, particularly Josh Smith. I believe it's always understated that it's one thing to have the coach teach you how to handle your job, but quite another to have the team members all practicing that walk and holding each other accountable. With the youngest team in the league, I have yet to see who our team leader is. Until that happens, well, - it's safe to assume we'll continue to have the uneven-ness we have on our team.

Ok, moving on...the preseason and the bench. Between listening on the radio and checking out box scores and articles on all the major websites, I have determined a few things and have hope for a few other things in the coming year regarding our bench:
  1. Acie has made some strides as a player in this league who MUST trump any consideration of putting Craig 'we won't call him Speedy til we see some Speed' Claxton into a basketball game. Craig hasn't shown one iota of a reason to think he can help us become a playoff/championship basketball team. While there are doubts about Acie, let's see him show us his upside on the court. You hear me, SMSM - "Play Acie at least 20 minutes a game and let him know what his role will be behind Bibby."
  2. Mo Evans & Flip Murray...show veteran leadership!!!! That and a little defense and some timely Js from the perimeter, but please show the kind of leadership that says - NJS, if you shoot another jump shot when you are making 25% outside of 18 ft in your CAREER - I will smack yo' ass. Period. So far, we feel good about just having older players on the squad who will play (i.e. Lorenzen Wright, we liked you, but we need veterans who actually are going to PLAY to help lead the squad on the court).
  3. Randolph Morris - no idea what to think about his contribution yet, but if you can provide some fouls and allow Al to move to the 4 throughout some games, that would be lovely.
  4. Marvin Williams - I know this is the bench section, but personally - until he shows me he's a star, I'd rather him play off the bench. Provide a spark, be strong at the cup, be Josh Childress with a better jumper (we hear that your range has extended to three point territory, but we already have ONE PF trying to shoot threes), so lose some weight and get your small forward game tight from the bench. Kinda Manu Ginobili. Makes for a Bibby/Pachulia/Horford/Joe Johnson/NJS starting squad that I like the sound, if....
  5. Pachulia can time travel to 2006. Man, we had the steal of the year when he was averaging double doubles for like $2M a year. Can we have you back, '06 Pachulia? The Boston - I'll smack you in yo mouf KG, Zaza. That dude is servicable. The 2008 regular season Zaza - not so much.
  6. Othello Hunter - Can you give us Moor? (Sorry, I couldn't resist showing off my limited Shakespearean knowledge.) Looks like he might be an energy guy off the bench - and Lord knows we need an energy guy who can play...(sorry Mario), so MAYBE he can bring some fouls and defense and rebounding off that bench. Making a layup in traffic wouldn't hurt either (yes, Marvin - that was for you)
  7. Solo, Mario, other bench fellas - Uh...if you are playing - well, we probably aren't making the playoffs, so catch splinters, be positive, and don't cause no trouble.
Final thought - still not sure why SMSM is still our coach, but we'll see in these first 15 games whether he has a) developed an offensive system that fits the players we have (i.e. no JJ isolations, actual inside out plays, a pick and roll, some movement of players, uh...let's see - RUNNING ALL DAY, EVERY DAY), b) actually defined the roles for each player on the team and c) convinced them that we can run and play defense - they aren't mutually exclusive. I know we have a tough schedule, but trust - I will have my full 'fire SMSM' gear on by January if we aren't close to .500.

After our first taste of playoff b-ball since I was in college, there's NO going back. Let's get the support going and meet our new and old Hawks. Go check out the Paint The Town Kickoff at Edgewood Shopping Center this weekend from 12-4. Details at hawks.com.

Next week, a season preview, our weekly blog topics/subjects, and a request for what road games Hawks Str8talk should visit this season - Miami, Washington, New York, New Jersey, Los Angeles, ?, ? Tell us where you want us to go and what we should blog about...(any b-ball related stuff we should check out while in said towns - sponsorship (i.e. lodging, food options for the low requested) is highly desired.

The Real Str8Talk Express has left the building...

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