With the season upon us, everyone wants to do their predictions for the year, so here's my prediction for my Hawks
Best Case Prediction - 43-39 (7th in Eastern Conference)
Worst Case Prediction - 33-49 (11th in Eastern Conference)
My Prediction - 40-42 (8th in Eastern Conference)
Coaching: The Hawks will do enough to get into the playoffs, but the question is more about whether we finally assume an offensive identity (maybe running at every opportunity per chance), defined roles for EACH player, and in-game adjustments (vs. the 2 fouls in a quarter rule for players who don't foul out anyway or when it means that we just give up a quarter's worth of production). It IS NOT Mike's fault that he hasn't had personnel to turn this team into a contender. It IS his fault that the Hawks do not have an identity and that, more than anything, is a coach's job. Your system may not work w/ the personnel you have, but we should all know what that system is. With the Hawks, the personnel says a running team, the results say...well, who knows on any given day. It is never a question of what the identity of a Phil Jackson, Gregg Popovich, Jerry Sloan team is. Sure, wish we understood that concept...and didn't need 5 years (and counting) to figure that out. That said, I still want Mike to succeed. As a lifelong Indiana Hoosier fan, I want the best for him, but last year - I lost the confidence that he's the right man for this job. Let's hope this year - he shows me something that I'm afraid he won't be able to do. Grade: D
Starters: Everyone is saying that this is one of the best starting 5s in the East. Bibby, JJ, J Smoove, Big Al, and Marvin...Could be so, but only if Marvin makes a QUANTUM leap in all phases, J Smoove stops taking jump shots, Big Al adds a post game to his otherwise solid game, and Bibby stays healthy and plays something that resembles defense. If we can't get any points off the block, we need to run. Though I'm not sure we're being coached to run with abandon along with feeling the freedom to substitute enough to make that running a game long philosophy. That said, J Smoove and Big Al have All Star talent, Marvin is talented, Bibby and JJ are a very capable backcourt, so we can do some things with this squad. What we lack more than anything is a certified leader who will 'will' the team to victories and keep our focus. Maybe Big Al can step into that role - one certainly hopes so. Grade: B+
Bench: I think I stated this before, but aside from basic 'can you ball' measures, we need Flip and Maurice to simply bring leadership to this team. I'm not sure of their credentials there, but that's what we need. Someone to whisper first, then use a bullhorn to say - JSmoove - you are awesome when you are doing everything except shooting jump shots. Someone to keep Acie confident when Mike Woodson decides not to play him Salim-style for 8 straight games. I'd love to say that I know that the '06 Zaza will show up, that Acie will ball, that Flip and Mo Evans will be steadying forces, that Randolph Morris can provide good minutes off the bench, that Othello Hunter, Gardner, Solomon, and Mario can be depended on for anything, but I have to keep it real - I don't think it's John Hollinger of ESPN.com bad on the bench, but I don't know that these guys are coached up with regards to their roles and what's expected enough to expect these guys to elevate us much. But who knows...that uncertainty says...Grade: D+
Let's hope I'm wrong - in fact, I hope I'm wrong about the coaching and the bench (I'm more open to believing I'm wrong about the bench than the coaching) and that we surprise everyone in the East. Maybe then, I can see my squad on TNT or ESPN instead of SportsSouth and FSN South every once in a while. Either way, check your boy, the Hawks Luva on Saturday at the Highlight Factory.
Last time, I was in Philips Arena for a Hawks game (Game 6 of the playoffs) was possibly the best feeling I've had at a sporting event ever (yeah, that shows you how bad it's been to watch NBA basketball since I've been old enough with enough chips in my pocket to afford Hawks tickets - which started around about 1988).
Oh, one more prediction (this is for Nizee) - LeBron James will prove again that he's the Most Valuable Player in the NBA (regardless of whether he has a MVP or not - i'm convinced that NO ONE would do with their team what LBJ does with his team. Next time Kobe takes the Collier Park All Stars (aka the Cleveland Cav supporting cast) to the NBA Finals or to Game 7 against the mighty Celtics, holla at ya boy) and has had by far a better career than Dwyane Wade. And that's with abiding love for D-Wade! Out...
Hope you enjoy what we do this year...Hawk Str8Talk has lift off!!!!
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