Monday, October 6, 2008

Rumblings

Unlike the NFL, training camp always creeps up on the national conscience for the NBA (and NHL - which has already started, for that matter), but nothing says joy like the boys coming back in town and getting ready for the follow up to an uneven season and even more uneven offseason.

Welcome to Maurice Evans, Flip Murray, Randolph Morris, and Othello Hunter. Farewell to Josh Childress and Salim Stoudamire. We'll have more analysis on where the newest Hawks will fit into the mix, but after a nerve-wrecking offseason of playing chicken with our most talented player - we want to simply lay out some expectations to start off our blog. As the season starts, we'll talk about the coaching, starters, bench, the effort, the fans, and the ownership. For now, here's an overview from a Hawks fan perspective:

Team Outlook: Don't let the playoffs fool you - as a fan, the goal is always about championships. Not division titles, not conference titles, not playoff berths when 16 teams get in, but championsips so everything is viewed on this blog through that prism. That said, this is NOT a championship team. What it is is a team that needs to build experience and learn how to win. While we have doubts about our coaching, coaching or not - this should be a 40-45 win team.

Coaching: So, anything less than 40 wins and you must fire Mike Woodson. As an Indiana Hoosier fan and early adoptee of the Knight/Woodson era, we've seen enough to say that Woodson must re-double his efforts this season. No third quarter collapses, no ignoring of the team talents such as Salim Stoudamire or Acie Law, no lack of bench time for Josh Smith shoots anything beyond 15 ft, no more posting up Marvin Williams, no more 2 foul rule for players who rarely foul out of games...an offensive philosophy that fits the players strengths would be nice too. Running all the time - yep, that would be nice too. Players knowing their roles and a consistent rotation - all would be nice.

Starters: Obviously, the strength of the team..here's our quick synopsis:

Joe Johnson - the best player on the team...great player, but you can't win a title if he's your best player, so he needs help. Also, needs to get that Kobe like ability to lead the team and accept nothing less than their best.

Josh Smith - the most talented player on the team...for some reason, people continue to dwell on Josh's negatives. Ok - he needs to learn how to take better shots (which I put on Mike Woodson), but let's keep this in perspective - he's still only 23. He is the 2nd best shot blocker in the league from the small forward/power forward spot. he still has a lot of growth to do in man to man defense and in developing his offensive game and yet, he still is a beast. Bottom line, there's so much more talent and positive than negative. Save the hate.

Al Horford - If we could just get him a defensive big man to back him up and it would be sky is the limit. If we could just post him up as a part of the offense and play off him and Joe Johnson and Josh Smith, then just let Marvin Williams hit jumpers. How that would make me happy. Bottom line, his heart and leadership is exactly what we needed and didn't get from Shelden Williams.

Marvin Williams - Damn, it's just sickening to think that Deron Williams (my choice back in that ill fated draft) or Chris Paul could be a part of this team. So sickening I couldn't watch the Hornets or Jazz in the playoffs. SERIOUSLY!!! So, we just gotta hope that pride will make this guy want to prove them all wrong and if that happens, we can trade him for a PG and/or big man that could put us over the top. That's the hope. Not b/c I dislike Marvin, but b/c having him and Josh Smith playing that tweener PF/SF isn't really helping us and since I see Josh's upside being VASTLY higher than Marvin's - let's just hope Marvin can make the jump to a 20pt/game player and we can do something with him. So, no more excuses. No more weakness at the cup. No more weakness on the defensive end - let's get it, Marv.

Mike Bibby - A good piece, but to validate this team's selections - Acie needs to be starting soon. Mike's a free agent to be and well, I'm not going to fall in love with him b/c there's probably a good reason to trade Bibby. It would be nice to see us keep a PG esp. one who Mike Woodson trusts, but we'll have to keep this one under watch until later.

Bench:

We don't know what to say about the bench right now, but that'll be the focus on later blogs in the offseason.

Intangibles:

Fan Support - it's time to get this fan train rolling. Nothing has ever felt as good as being in Philips Arena for its 3 game stint in the playoffs. And I want that feeling back...so let's get off our asses and make the Phil rock again to help this team get over the hump. Sund, you have much to prove, so let's prove that competent leadership can move the shoe model capital to the top of draft and free agent acquisition lists.

And with that, go see the hawks open practice this Saturday...til next week!

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