Friday, July 3, 2009

Hawks As An 8th Seed?

In true Str8Talk fashion, it was with great hope that we thought that the Hawks would be players in the offseason. So, we decided that it was time to assess what the top teams have done in free agency to date AND figure out where the Hawks project out for next season's playoff seeding based on that assessment.

So, in NBA news...and reporting on teams that were as good or better than the Hawks last season
West

1. Lakers - picked up Artest, lost Ariza
2. Nuggets - Done nothing yet
3. Spurs - picked up Jefferson
4. Blazers - picked up Turkgolu
5. Rockets - picked up Ariza, lost Artest, injury woes with McGrady and Yao
6. Mavericks - in limbo with Kidd
7. Hornets - Nothing
8. Jazz - all potential free agents decided to stay

East
1. Cavs - picked up Shaq
2. Celtics - lost Marbury, might be able to pick up Wallace, injury issues with Garnett
3. Magic - lost Lee, Turkgolu, and Alston...got Carter
4. Hawks - picked up Crawford - still unsure about Zaza, Flip, Childress, Bibby, Marvin Williams
5. Heat - nothing
6. Sixers - nothing, but Brand should be coming back
7. Bulls - lost Gordon
8. Pistons - picked up Gordon, Villanueva...losing Wallace & Iverson
9. Wizards - picking up Arenas, Foye, and Miller

Now, looking at this list...it becomes fairly apparent that the Hawks are performing up to recent standards (last midseason included) with regards to making championship level improvements. There's no doubt that the Hawks have caught no one this offseason and likely have sacrificed their ability to even get the 4th seed in the East. In the West, all the teams have made moves with the understanding that to stand pat is to allow another team to pass you by.

While there were many who were excited about Jamal Crawford, count us among those who were not. I'd much rather be in the position of the Pistons, Bulls, or Wizards this offseason and despite the Magic's net loss - they still are better than the Hawks at full strength. Which brings us to our current state...we still have no point guard (Teague, Crawford, Johnson are all shooting guards - don't let anyone tell you otherwise), we still don't have a center (or a backup center), and the ownership is not known for spending money.

So, where does that leave us during the offseason...as the #8 seed at best. Fortunately, the Heat haven't done anything or else we'd be staring at the possibility of not being in the playoffs this upcoming season. To be sure, things certainly can change with a few contract signings, a few injuries, or coaching changes, but as it stands - we are a team in hopes of making the playoffs ONCE AGAIN. These thoughts of 50 win seasons are not being harbored by this fan. Let's hope that we are singing a different song on Aug. 1st.

27 comments:

Xavier said...

Panic? On July 4th? This article is way premature. Turkoglu has changed his mind about his future destination and really out of all the free agents signed so far who could we really expect to sign and/or have a need for? 30 yr old Turk at his asking price? 56 million for 5 years? Ben Gordon for 55 million? Ariza over Marvin? Artest in ATL? Shaq @ 21 million? Vince or Foye over JJ? Charlie V paid 40 million to ride the bench? I liked our team before free agency started over Wash, Tor, Chi, Mia, and Philly(they still got to prove they can incorporate Brand and they may lose Miller). The last I checked we haven't lost anyone from last season yet. And I like the Crawford signing. The Hawks are O.K. We need talent that fits our team. Not talent at the same positions.

Ron E. said...

This seems accurate as of today, but do you really expect the Hawks to sign nobody? Rumor has it they are closing in on re-signing Bibby and they will have to chance to match any offer Marvin gets. Murray has already been effectively replaced with Crawford. The biggest unknown is whether they can re-sign Zaza or bring in another free agent big man to back up Horford. When all the wheeling and dealing is done, I'd still expect the Hawks to be in position for a playoff seed in the 4-6 range.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

First, I don't think panic is what my post is about. It's really what I expect from the Hawks organization. Never really doing anything to make themselves championship caliber.

So, while you can question some of the moves other teams make, the fact is - they are making them because they see something that isn't championship quality (or they want to maintain that level) and they make moves. Our move for Crawford is ok if you're looking at what you gave up to get him, but it's not even noteworthy with regards to building a championship team. The guy is basically Flip 2.0 with worse defense. Does he have value? Yes. Is he a game changer with regards to what the Hawks needed? No.

The Hawks need a better coaching staff/philosophy, low post defense, interior depth, a distributing point guard, defensive help on the perimeter, and some veteran leadership. Those are the things they need - Teague nor Crawford fits that bill. So, you're either hoping that the current players who are signed are going to get SIGNIFICANTLY better to offset what other teams are adding to their teams OR we are prepared to slide. The team, as is, isn't going to get past the 1st round in my opinion.

That's the point of the blog - Xavier, you make some points that I'm not making. I'm not saying that every free agent is for us, but that we better add some pieces or expect to fall in the standings. Now, if that results in firing Woodson, then I'd say that's a net positive, which I'd be willing to suffer. I'm not sure if you were watching the Hawks during the last 2 months of the season, but it wasn't pretty. I don't want to see that team again.

Oh, Ron - I expect the Hawks to try to bring back as many of last year's players as possible and that isn't a good thing to me. I would prefer Miller or Sessions to Bibby, I would be ok with letting Flip go, I definitely want Zaza back, but Gortat would be better, and if we can get a piece by dangling Marvin - so be it. But I don't expect us to do anything like that.

Xavier said...

Well ATL, I guess I'm a lot more optimistic about the Hawks than you. You actually said you like the Wiz($100 million to a player who has not played a full season in 2 yrs) prospects better than ours. Wow! Anyway I think our organizaton has "turned" the corner as far as expectations are concerned (players and coaching staff)and that's taking into account our ownership mess. I expect moves(smart signings and not signings that will cripple our salary cap next season and beyond)to be made to improve our team. But I also know we can't make any and every move like L.A. or Cleveland for example. But a move like the trade for Crawford is better than OK to me. It's a great trade. We get a player that could start for a handful of teams in the NBA for 2 players who wouldn't even be 6th man for 3/4 of the teams in the league. I bet there were Magic fans last year who thought 1. Mickael Pietrus? He is a non-factor and 2. we aren't making it to the Finals this year. I was just saying you are/were panicking because at 1st you said the Hawks were essentially a #8 seed or lottery team based on the results of 4 or 5 trades or free agent signings. I'm not too concerned about that because I fully expect Josh and Marvin to improve as well as Horford and even Woody. Now I would love for us too make a home run signing but if its not there we will be O.K. We are a young and improving team. And be honest. Was your expectation for the Hawks after last season, to make it to the 2nd round of the playoffs this season and win over 45 games AFTER we lost Childress? Most publications had the Hawks missing the playoffs all together.

It has been noted the Hawks have contacted Sheed, Gortat and McDyess. The same things you felt we need to improve our team. I also know it would be crazy to offer a player like Gortat or McDyess any type of contract until the market is set by the upper tier players. And I watched the Hawks the last 2 months and I do know injuries played a hand in the up and down play along with our short bench(thanks to Woody and management) and for the record the last 2 months of the season we did have a 14-10 record. Not bad considering. But let me ask you. If the Hawks did improve and make it to the East. Conf. Finals or even the Finals, would you still support firing Woody? I mean each season his team has improved and at some point some credit has to be given to him. Doesn't it?

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

First, let me go ahead and just say - you can read all of my blogs to see how I feel about the Hawks as I've gone into much of this in detail, so I won't do it here.

To your question about Woodson, a complete emphatic NO. You can read my end of season and playoff blogs to understand specifically why.

My point of view is always going to be with the thought of winning a championship. Most of what you're communicating is about being better than expectations. So, yes - the Hawks performed better than I thought they would have last year, but that's something I acknowledged by week 3 of the season, so I adjusted my projections from there. Starting in the calendar year of 2009, the Hawks were not a very good team.

So, we could debate this point for point, but it's not important to do that. I'm simply saying that 1) Crawford is a decent 2 guard, but he is considered one of the worst defenders in the league and a volume shooter (like we needed more of those). So, am I happy we have him instead of a distributor? NO! Am I happy that we have him if we're not going to play Law or Claxton? YES! Does he fix anything that keeps us from being an elite team? ABSOLUTELY NOT! Does Teague do anything for us over the next 2 years? No, and definitely not if Woodson is the coach.

So, I'm not panicking at all. I said - I hope things have changed by next month, but you lose all credibility with me when you use the 'give Woodson credit' piece. I'm on record and you can read all my blogs on Woodson with saying he's a horrible coach. I'd even use your reasoning as my #1 piece of evidence - the only thing people say about him is that the team has won more games each season. When pressed there isn't a Woodson fan who has ever said anything that speaks 'decent/good/elite' coach. Nothing! His coaching has very little credibility with me. I have been to 50% of the home games at Philips Arena since '98 - I've watched Woodson. I wanted him to be good and have no ax to grind, but we are not going to win a title with Woodson. We won't make the Eastern Conf. Finals with him unless we get talent that he can't mess up. It's like Mike Brown - he's not a great coach, but his team has LeBron, so it's hard to mess that up during the regular season. I'd say the same for Woodson except worse. We will beat the teams we are more talented than, but we're not winning a majority of games or playoff series where that isn't the case. Period. So, I'd debate with you on many things, but Woodson isn't one of them. If that's your position, let's just stop now and agree to disagree b/c I have written about it too much and seen bad coaching too often to believe otherwise.

The number one thing we can do to improve this team's ceiling is to fire Mike Woodson. It's not going to happen, but I'm thoroughly convinced of that.

thirdfalcon said...

I think you do need to give Woodson some credit, he is not the worst coach in the league, by any standard. I'm not saying he's on the level of Larry Brown or Phil Jackson. or even that he's better than average. But there are things he does well. Hearing people in the blogosphere talk about him you'd think he's Lon Kruger or something.

Crawford is an improvement over Flip. He may not be statistically much better than Flip on a per 40 minutes, but he can play more minutes effectively than Flip could. This should allow Joe to rest more, which should help us in the playoffs. So that move alone helps us on a few levels.

There is also good reason to believe that Marvin, Smith, and Horford will get better next season. All three are young, and Smith is out of his post-contract year.

As far as the roster goes, we still have unfinished issues. Namely at PG, SF, and frontcourt depth. the first two look to stay the same as last year (as i write this at least), and while the third is a bit murky we are bringing David Anderson over. So there is potential there though I am not convinced he is the answer.

That said, I don't see any reason to think that any of the teams below us will get better next year (on paper) save the wizards, and the Bulls.

So no I don't think that any of the teams that finished behind us will make big jumps, and I don't think our team will slide. I expect them to go into this season with a goal to win 50+ games and once again make it to the 2nd round of the playoffs.

We won't be a championship team, but if we continue to make steady improvement, That goal can be reached in near the begining of the next decade.

This is still a young team and most of the players on our roster haven't yet come close to realizing their potential. Let's not shit on them before the off-season is over.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

I think I want to be clear about 2 things that I think keep getting projected on my blog that I didn't say. First, I am a Hawks fan through and through, which means I'm going to cheer for my team to be successful. That's not to be confused with being a homer. I don't put on Hawk colored glasses to think that things aren't what they are.

With that said, I am on record (read my blogs) with saying that I'm not knocking the players at all until I get any sense that they are getting coached. So, part of what you hear in the blogosphere is that we watch the games, the articles, the pre- and post game interviews and make conclusions. I'm not sure if you have been a season ticket holder, then watch games, read interviews, and critique what's happening with the team.

With that in mind, I'd be interested to hear what you think Woodson does well. I truly have found nothing. I've seen him let the talent work it out. It's my belief that the Hawks have a lot of talent, but no coaching philosophy whatsoever. I look at Joe getting worn down, the switch on every screen defense, the Joe-Iso in the 4th quarter, the we didn't come out ready to play in the 3rd quarter in over 30 games excuse, the 'we can't play young players to help them gain confidence in the event of injuries' philosophy as all on Woodson.

Trust me, I wanted him to be successful. He's from my hometown, went to school with my parents, and seems like a nice guy. Those things are all in his favor for me to like him as our coach. And 5 years in - the fact that we've won more games means little. Our first season over .500 was this one - and I believe that to be b/c we finally had a point guard, our players got better (it's still a talent league), and the fact that the East sucked. Not b/c Woodson did a lot to maximize the talent. There's no player that's gotten better b/c of Woodson. They just got older and figured things out. We still don't even play to our strengths down low and he's not motivating our players to play their best.

So, that's what I want from my coach - to design an off/def system to the strengths of our team, to make adjustments during a game when that's not working, and to motivate the team to play its best. How do you lose every playoff game you've ever been in by double digits? Why are players continually in a doghouse or beefing with you (Smith, Law, Stoudamire, Claxton, Pachulia)? At some point, it's not about the team and it's about you. So, I gave him a shot - it's been 5 years and I STILL can't say what he brings to the table. It's not defense. It's not offense. It's not motivation. It's not in-game strategy. All I can say is read the blogs - find out what happened each and every game and week and tell me that he's doing anything to help. A team can win in spite of its coach. It certainly happens in this league.

Jesse said...

Don't worry Larry, I'm right there with you. I fully expect this team to regress this year because there is no direction whatsoever on either side of the ball. I've stated it here and elsewhere that I fully believe that until Woodson is gone, nothing is going to change. In fact, this team may have fully peaked and we may have witnessed the best year we are going to see from them for the next five years.

Sometimes there's just no point in preaching to a deaf congregation.

thirdfalcon said...

I'm from Atlanta and the Hawks have been my favorite team for my whole life. I watch most of the games, though not all of them. I don't usually tape them, but I think I have a pretty good head for basketball. I read about them alot, and I study the statistics.

I don't really watch press conferences because I don't think there is that much value in them especially when your talking about what the coach says.

Coaches gain no profit from letting you gain insight into their thought process, or decisions.

Some of the things I've read that were infered from remarks Woodson made have been laughable, and proof that anything he says will be put under a microscope and made to prove to a bunch of people that are emo that our team doesn't operate like the 03 Phoenix Suns that all their frustrations about the team are all Woodson's fault. As if pushing the pace a bit is gonna make us a championship team

(not saying this is you specifically, just saying that this is what Woodson deals with, and why he doesn't say anything of substance to the press).

Now, as far as his upside goes I won't get into specifics too much because I think that is an argument that's better served during the season. But in general, I think he sticks to a rotation, and his players have defined roles.

You know what is expected from Joe, you know what is expected from Horford, etc.

This is a double edged sword, and I expect you would call it rigidity and a weakness. But when the players know what they are doing every night it makes their job easier to do.

His rotation was 8 men deep last year, and again you would probably say he isn't developing the bench. But I say that our bench was terrible behind Flip, Mo, and Zaza and that no amount of developing would have made those guys any better.

Most successful teams have a similar rotation that makes the pecking order clear, and brings stability to the team.

Marvin, Smith, and Horford have all gotten better and better every year, and Woodson has to get some of the credit for that. You can say the players just figured it out, but that is purely speculation and there isn't much to back that up.

The players you mentioned that have been in his doghouse? Any player as talented as Josh Smith that plays in such a dumb way deserves to be in the doghouse. And you can't make me believe that Smith plays in a way that is endorsed by Woodson.

Salim was/is a fringe player and that's how Woodson used him. Claxton was injury prone and I don't think that's relevant. Zaza came out of the doghouse a better player.

It does reflect badly on Woodson, but their are many players that won't listen to their coach. The problems between Phil Jackson and Lamar Odom are a good example. This is just something that happens in the NBA, and hopefully it will eventually get resolved in a way that ends with Smith not taking jump shots anymore.

One thing you can't say is that the players don't play for him. the fact that he still has a handle on this team after 5 years and so many losses makes me want to buy him a beer. Most teams quit on their coaches after two or three years, even when they are winning.

I'm not gonna defend his Xs and Os because I think this they are weak. The Iso-Joe is a decent for this team, because our best offensive players are guards, but I'm confident in saying that their are better offensives we could be running.

The constant switching on pick and rolls is better suited for us than any other team in the league since we have so many players that can guard multiple positions, but it puts to much pressure on the weak link (namely Bibby, and next year Crawford). I think a balance could be reached, and the fact that there hasn't been one reflects on Woodson.

Again, I'm not saying that he's a great coach, I'm just saying that their are many worse ones. I would love to see what this team could do running a different offense, but I know to be careful what you wish for as well.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

Again, we'll just agree to disagree on Woodson b/c things you believe aren't Woodson issues - I think are 100% coaching issues.

I think it's a Woodson problem to not play to your strengths - youth, speed, athleticism. I think it's a Woodson problem to say that our defensive strategy is the best one when, as a supposedly defensive coach, your team isn't a top defensive team and when your defensive strategy is shredded by every decent offensive team.

I think you should actually take some time and dissect those press conferences where his assessment of the game (not his strategy or any of that) is beyond laughable. To see him throw players under the bus during those events is destructive. Esp. when he doesn't take responsibility for his mistakes publicly.

Josh is NOT the sole reason he's taking those shots - the offense is designed for him to take those jump shots. What Bibby said in the playoffs to Woodson during the game was instructive - he cussed at Woodson for being upset that he passed to an open player (Smith) in an offense that's designed for him to be able to take that shot. That's not Josh's fault solely. If you're the coach, you tell him that he's going to play only if he realizes his limitations. I'd respect Woodson if Josh sat every time he took a jump shot with more than 3 seconds on the shot clock.

So, let's just say we'll disagree on Woodson esp. if you think the players are playing for him. They play b/c they get paid to play, but I certainly am not going to co-sign on the fact that they are on board with Mike Woodson. Joe likes Woodson, but that's b/c he just gives him the ball and says make something happen. I was lost on Woodson when he admitted that he played him more minutes than he wanted to to make sure Joe got the numbers needed to get into the All Star Game.

I'm also not going to co-sign on the fact that he can't develop players like Law. It reflects poorly on him that he thinks he can't get 10 minutes a game when we don't have a point guard besides Bibby. It reflects poorly on him to not give Horford or Smith at least 15 touches in the paint to establish an offensive balance. It reflects poorly when Joe Johnson leads the league in minutes and when Stevie Wonder can see that he's overused in games we are leading. Hence, the reason Joe looked bad in the playoffs.

Every team uses its stars, but there is a method to their use - doesn't matter what the score is - Kobe, LeBron, D Wade, etc are on the bench to start the 2nd and 4th quarters to save them the wear and tear. They trust the bench to do its job. Woodson has done no such thing. I'm not going to say that West, Jones, or any of those guys are world beaters, but you have to play them, so they don't look lost when injuries do occur.

My point is that Woodson should be on top of those things. He isn't. He's shown it repeatedly, so I'm very solid on the fact that I see him as a liability and one that keeps us from higher heights. Atlanta fans are too accepting of just enough or average. I'm saying that I am completely convinced that he's not a championship coach. Period. I don't think anyone is going to convince me and I certainly don't think that even the Hawks organization is convinced he's going to take us to a championship. They are just happy that we're in the playoffs and he's cheap. And to me, that's unacceptable.

I'm willing to try something else at the risk of going backwards. To me, knowing I'm not going to win with one guy is worth the risk to try it with someone who hasn't proven that he can't take us there. So, that's where we differ. I know exactly what I'm wishing for. I'm wishing we had a shot at better than 1st or 2nd round.

thirdfalcon said...

A few things

1. I don't think the overall strength of the team is our athleticism, and speed. and I don't even think youth is a strength. I think our offensive strength is our guards. They are more polished and better than our frontcourt. You can argue that this is Woodson's fault, but it's really only natural.

All three of are frontcourt starters are young and there is no reason to expect them to be able to run a team.

2. This team does have alot of athleticism and speed that probably isn't utilized to it's full potential, and I do think there are ways to marry the two that aren't being done, but I'm on the record as saying I don't like Woodson's Xs and Os so I won't get any further into it then that.

3. Josh Smith makes 4 times as much as Woodson. He can't just not play him, and even if he does Josh is still making 11 million a year to sit in the bench, and Woodson would come off looking like a lunatic for not playing his second best player.

Woodson has nothing to threaten Josh with. On the contrary Josh could just stop playing hard and get Woodson fired. The fact that he hasn't(and none of the other players have either) says that they are willing to play hard for Woodson.

Just look at the Clippers last year or Scott Skiles' last year with the Bulls for examples of players quiting on their coaches. It happens every year but despite seemingly overwhelming odds it hasn't happened with Woodson, so don't say the players are only playing for money.

4. It remains to be seen if Acie Law even good enough to be a backup in the NBA. Our opinions really aren't worth that much because we haven't seen the kid play enough. But if the kid wasn't cutting it in practice then I'm glad he never played.

However now that he's gonna play for the best possible coach for a driving, play-making, pace pushing point guard, we will find out how good he is. If he can't crack Don Nelson's rotation then Woodson is absolved on this issue. If he thrives then you are vindicated. I predict the former but we shall see.

5. I touched on the fact the Joe plays to many minutes in an earlier post, but I think that's why we brought Crawford in. He can play more minutes than Flip which should eleviate the need for Joe to play heavy minutes.

6. If you are not going to consider the points I bring up, don't bother to respond. Just saying agree to disagree is dismissive and tells me that your not willing to consider other points of view.

I'm talking to you because I think you have something to add. And I enjoy the conversation. I hope you feel the same about me. However if you are going to try to talk at me it's really just a flame war, and I have 4chan for that.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

I think the biggest thing for me is - I want to win a title. I'm not happy when we're getting blown out, we show no heart, we have little leadership, we don't have a good plan to win. If we hit from the outside, the Hawks will win. If we can't make jump shots, we lose. When watching other good teams in the postseason, they were playing their hearts out in victory or defeat. Not the Hawks. That reflects on the coach. The players too, but you can't get rid of all the players. You can get rid of the coach. So, if this coach can't (as you said) control Josh, get the best out of Acie, etc - I don't want him. Not when I'm watching Ariza, Shannon Brown, Farmer, etc providing contributions where in other places they were 10th men. I want a coach who uses the strengths of our players. Whatever you think of Law - he absolutely was a MUCH better defender than Bibby ever was, so on the nights when we were getting torched at his position - maybe he helps you there. But Woodson never tried...

Anyway, our talent is not at the guard position. Joe Johnson is our best player, but Al Horford, Josh Smith, and Marvin Williams are very young and very talented. The future of the Hawks is with them. So, the fault is that Woodson essentially has ceded the offense to the guards (Murray should not get more points than your three frontcourt starters) when your talent is in the frontcourt and the only way to maximize it is to design the offense to let them play. Bibby should be put in a position to play off of them. Putting them on the blocks when they haven't fully developed low post games isn't using their #1 strength, but how would you know when Horford rarely got more than 10 shots in a game?

During the reg. and post season, every commentator, the players, and most observers see that we should run the ball - when we do that, we are actually a scary team, but we don't. That's coaching - that's not natural.

I completely and totally disagree with anything that happened with handling Acie Law IV. I watched him when he did get playing time and there's nothing that he did that was awful to the point that he should never get on the court. When he gets less time than Solomon Jones or Mario West. I've always seen him play hard, so I certainly just believe that he has a beef with young players. More than that, I believe he was unwilling to groom the young point guard. In a situation where he allows EVERY other player to make many mistakes (per your argument), why would you not allow Law to make those same mistakes in learning the hardest position on the court? In 2 years, you should be positive that he's just a bad player. No one knows that. So, it doesn't matter if he never sets foot on a court again - to not have played the kid in 2 years is a complete waste and testament to Woodson. There are no reports that Acie Law couldn't cut it in practice, so that's just an excuse. Bottom line, Woodson was scared of Law's learning curve and didn't see that playing him would make them stronger later. That lack of foresight has manifested itself with regards to other players as well as how he even deploys his rotation, his overuse of Joe Johnson, his 2 fouls and sit down inflexibility, etc.

A coach who doesn't know how to get to a title will just do whatever they can to keep their jobs. That's Woodson, which speaks to my point. I don't want a coach that is worried about whether a player is going to quit when the player's effort and execution is subpar.

Josh Smith is our most talented player from the neck down. I need a coach who understands that getting Josh's neck up in concert with Josh's neck down is key to the future of the team. So, if your answer is that he can't threaten him with anything, then that's where we diverge in thought. Mike Woodson has the biggest stick with regards to PT. Sure, Josh could pout and not play, but that's what a coach needs to manage and if he can't manage that, then HE SHOULDN'T BE THE COACH.

thirdfalcon said...

I think there are a few places we diverge in thought. You seem to think that everything about Woodson is negative. I don't think that's possible. You think that you can figure out what's going on through the media. I think there is not nearly enough information to make anything but educated guesses.

Don't get me wrong, Sekou is a great beat writer, but he's really the only media person covering this team on a daily basis. With a team like the Lakers, everything is gonna come out eventually even if it's in a book 10 years away from being published. There's just so much more media scrutiny in a place like that.

So if Acie played poorly in practice, I doubt we'd ever find out about it. Sekou isn't the type of guy to talk bad about players. So I doubt he'd want to report that whether he had the information or not.

However, I do have one question for you about Acie. How can Woodson have a grudge against young players, when he's not playing him in favor of Mario, a young player?

In any case, it's very possible that Acie was a just a bust and always will be a bust. And if that's true, I'm very happy that I don't know how good he is. I never saw anything special when he did play, I'll tell you that much.

I also would like to clarify something. I think all three of our frontcourt starters are better than Bibby overall. But I think Bibby is better on the offensive end. I don't think this is even arguable (though I could always be wrong).

I suppose it's possible that Horford would turn into the evolutionary version of Kevin McHale if he got 20 touches a game. But it's really irrelevant if you know if that would happen or not, because it's not the coaches job to please you.

In any case if Horford was a great post scorer, the players would know it. And they would realize how dumb their coach is and quit on him. Since that hasn't happened yet, I doubt he's the evolutionary version of Kevin Mchale. He's just a good young player that wants to be better than he was yesterday.

Maybe he will get there someday, and Maybe he won't. Does that mean you should run your offense through him while your waiting for him to get that good? Hell no. Not when your the forth seed in the east.

I've said this several times in the Blogosphere in the past few weeks, but I'll say it one more time. There are many better coaches in the NBA, and there are many worse coaches than Mike Woodson.

You could well be right, that if he can't handle all the issues that we have been discussing, Woodson shouldn't be the coach. I just think that you could count the coaches that could handle those issues on one hand.

And there are not any coaches that know how to get to the title. And by "not any" I mean zero. To win a title you need talent which we have but not enough of yet. You need luck which we may or may not ever have. And yes you need a coach that fits his team knows how to use his talent to it's full potential.

Now, I really don't want to be a Woodson apologist. I don't want him to be the coach next season, and I thought it was dicey bringing him back this season. I would love to see how good this team could be under a Mike D'Antoni, Pat Riley, Larry Brown, Phil Jackson, or even a Jeff Van Gundy.

But I would have sworn that Doc Rivers could never win a title before last year. Amazing how much adding a few hall of fame caliber player does for your coaching ability, huh?

So, all that said, lets get off Woodson for a bit. I have a good question for you. Do you think that this team has championship level talent right now (assuming we resign Bibby, Marvin, Zaza, and Anderson, and assuming an ideal coach)? And if no, how far away are we from having Championship level talent?

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

I'll end my Woodson comments with this - I waited 4 years before saying a word bad about Mike Woodson, but watching (not media review) him and his strategy is what I'm informed about. So, I'm not trying to be dismissive, but I feel very comfortable with saying - that if you believe that Mario West should ever see time on the basketball court vs. the flashes of talent I've SEEN Law display, then we don't have much else to debate on that.

So, you understand that I'm not arguing against you - Law could suck, Horford could be average (I've even argued as much), Smith could just be a complete head case, etc...I'm just saying that the things that the coach does have control over - I'm not seeing him control to our benefit. That wasn't confirmed for me until I saw our effort in the playoffs. I am ok with losing, I'm not ok with not looking prepared for the moment and we weren't. You can call it injuries, but I saw SEVERAL teams with injuries and they didn't collapse. They didn't even have the coach say on 3 occasions that he didn't coach his best - I mean how can you criticize players for not playing their best if you aren't doing your best IN THE PLAYOFFS. So, that's my personal bias at this stage.

We can debate other areas, but I'm not sure why we've had this long discourse when you agree with me. He shouldn't be the coach if we want to win a title. I'm not even debating whether there are other coaches that suck. I'm saying he's the wrong coach for this team to maximize its potential, period. All the other things you say have elements that I agree with and disagree with, but they don't deal with my point regarding Woodson - he's a bad coach for the Hawks.

And I think you agree with me there, so let's just leave it at that vs. parsing the sub-points that you agree or disagree about. You're right - time will tell. As I said, if you read my blogs - you would see what I've given Mike Woodson credit for and what I've criticized him over. Yes, I've given him credit for some things, but overall I don't think there's really one thing that I can think of that makes me feel good that he's a good coach.

As for your remaining question, I believe that (and there are some specific blogs where I've detailed this more specifically) Horford (as PF), Smith (as SF), Johnson (SG), Pachulia (as backup C), and possibly Williams (and even Law as a backup point guard) could be parts of a future championship team, but that we're still a few pieces away. More than anything though - we need leadership on this team. Denver had championship talent, but until Chauncey got there - they didn't have any leadership - coaching and leadership would make us better. Yes, it has to be married with a better point guard and a center, but until that happens - coaching and leaders would go a long way toward making us a tougher playoff out.

Xavier said...

Well since we've gotten past the issue of Woody, ATL I'm still wondering do you really feel the Wiz, the Bulls and the Pistons have surpassed the Hawks. I don't see it.

Jesse said...

The Bulls, yes, the others, no. In fact, I felt like had we faced the Bulls in the first round last year we would have been bounced then.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

Definitely the Bulls and I think it stands to reason that today - the Sixers and Wizards are adding elite players to their teams (as well as coaching) in Brand and Arenas.

Of course, this is all on paper, so we'll have to see how it plays out, but they are adding All Stars to their rosters. Let's not forget that the Wizards were the Hawks before Arenas was hurt. The Sixers would have beaten the Hawks last year in the playoffs in my opinion.

And we're talking what's out there today. Today, I don't see Zaza coming back, I don't see any other piece that fixes ANY of the problems that the Hawks have. If you looked at the Hawks from January 2009 on, they were not a good team - they were very average. The Bulls were better than us down the stretch.

So, we don't have to agree, but I think you have to see the possibility of us regressing in the East and these other teams getting better. So, I'm not saying today we ARE the 8th seed - I'm saying that I easily see the Pistons and Wizards fighting with us for the 6th seed. Today, I see the Sixers and Bulls as having better rosters, balance, leadership, toughness, and coaching than us. That could change, but that's what I see today.

thirdfalcon said...

Just to get this out of the way I didn't say Woodson can't win a championship. I don't think it's likely, but that kind of thinking is immature imo.

I used the Doc Rivers as an example of someone who I thought could never win a championship, but did once he got 2 hall of famers and an elite defensive coordinator.

I would like to see the Hawks hire offensive and defensive coordinator, and I would like to see us sign a Backup PF that's capable of starting.

Tall orders I know, but imagine if we had McDyess. then you can sit Josh when his shot selection is bad. And coordinators would fix Woodson's biggest problem (imo) his Xs and Os.

I'm not really worried about the Wizards. For one thing your assuming Arenas is healthy, and that's a big assumption. For another their Defense is much worse than ours. They really just try to outscore you.

The Bulls could well pass us, but the Sixers are like we were, before we got Bibby, no shooters. That's why they are so down on Miller, they'd rather have Bibby too.

And of course this also assumes that Brand is healthy, a bet that's almost as bad as Arenas making it through the year.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

Let's move away from Woodson because I think you are adding items that you think Woodson can do and I'm thoroughly unconvinced with your arguments in favor of him doing ANYTHING to aid in our progression to a title.

We agreed that he's not a good coach. You think he's better than the worst. I don't. Let's just bury that and move on to things we do agree on and if you ever get a chance to read through my blogs - you'll see that I've provided commentary on much of what you seem to agree with me on.

Such as my 2nd option to firing Woodson, which was to extend his contract - I don't think it makes any sense to make Woodson a lame duck coach right now. Either believe in him or don't (which is how I feel about Woodson and how he should have treated Salim or Acie or any other player who needs time on the court to develop - you develop belief in your players and use them where they are strong), but if I'm Josh Smith and I get upset with Woodson - I just tank this season and make them choose btw me or Woodson. Either way, Smith wins. I don't like Woodson's coaching, but I think you either commit or fire him. If you don't do that, then I'm a HUGE advocate of having an offensive and defensive coordinator such as what happened in Cleveland. I don't think Mike Brown is a much better coach, but he got people around him who were good at their areas and let them do their jobs. I'd accept that as a suitable solution for this.

The problem with that is - MONEY! We already are cheap as is, so what makes me think the Spirit would spend the loot. Which brings me back to - FIRE or EXTEND! That's the best scenario for the organization and our future growth. But lame duck is the absolute worst option the Spirit and Rick Sund could have chosen. This is also why I believe the seeds for regression have been sown.

As a side note, I agree that this is a talent league, but I would ask you to look into the past 20 years and tell me an average coach that won a title. I never thought Doc Rivers was bad - just his talent. His philosophy and trust in his players is noteworthy. In fact, his handling of Rajon 'no jumper' Rando & Big Baby Davis & Eddie House is something that would have been instructive for Woodson when he was sitting Acie on the bench for 2 years. So, Doc would be an upgrade for the Hawks as far as I'm concerned.

Anyway, that's my take - I won't argue the other teams passing us item - we'll see. You could very well be right about the Wiz. I'll grant you that - I'll say the same about the Sixers...what I do know is that they are IMPROVING this offseason and adding significant pieces - Crawford isn't a significant to me! We aren't improving unless it's from our players getting better in the offseason than those teams' players are. Time will tell.

thirdfalcon said...

That's fine, I'll stop arguing about Woodson, if you stop putting words in my mouth, because I don't agree with you and I've read plenty of your blogs.

As far as Championships go, you take baby steps, and try to improve each year, until you feel like you have a window to win a championship. Then you start making big moves and taking gambles.

That's what the Hawks have been doing, for the past 5 years, and they have improved each year.

Maybe they will improve again next year, and maybe they won't. But they have a roster now that will shore up one big weakness (Joe's Overuse). And they have a good chance to shore up another weakness (rebounding and frontcourt depth) in the next few weeks.

They will still be a flawed team, yes. But as long as they are moving in the right direction I'm ok with that for now.

Now go ahead and say that as long as Woodson is here we aren't moving in the right direction, because I know it's coming. Also make sure to tell me to stop talking about Woodson, and then proceed to write 10 paragraphs about him. Because it makes so much sense to fire the coach that just won the franchises first playoff series in over a decade.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

Here's what we'll do - you and I have different philosophies for success for the Hawks. I am not in any way trying to put words in your mouth. You can always rectify that situation in this comment area b/c I am trying to understand your reasoning. So, you haven't been successful.

But I do think I'm saying I don't agree with most of what I've read. It's not personal. I am happy that you're a Hawks fan - we need more of 'em. So, it can be a mature disagreement. If you think I'm trying to belittle you or not have a reasoned debate - my apologies, but I do have a strong opinion about the Hawks and their direction.

I fundamentally disagree with you on how the team gets to a title and about Mike Woodson. We probably disagree on Bibby too (I would prefer a young distributor and defender next year over Bibby).

On 2 occasions I read you saying you think our coach is weak in areas that I think are critical to our growth into a title contender. My answer was to find a coach who is not weak in those areas. Your answer - well, i'm not trying to put words in your mouth, but it seemed like it was - get better players incrementally.

My answer to that is - many a player and team has been ruined by poor coaching. I'm watching one of those situations right now. I'm watching Horford, Smith, Law, Stoudamire, even Johnson (with his overuse) being ruined every day by a lack of good coaching.

So, I hear your arguments - I just don't agree with them. I don't agree that we have a roster that fixes Joe Johnson's overuse. Mike Woodson can fix Joe Johnson's overuse by just not over using him. If you don't bring back Flip - what makes you think that Crawford is going to help Joe get off the floor. If Teague doesn't play like Law didn't play, what makes you think something is going to slow Bibby's further decline.

What makes you think we're about to fix our frontcourt depth if Zaza signs elsewhere when we needed Zaza PLUS someone else esp. with a cheap ownership group. So, we agree on the fact that we're a flawed team, but I just happen to think that we're flawed in areas that keep us from winning a title vs. just having a few missing pieces. I'm saying that the philosophy of the team can't be fixed simply with players.

The Hawks could add more talent and still be rudderless with regards to toughness, leadership, and yes - coaching acumen and that would still mean - 1st or 2nd round exit. You see, I don't give Woodson or the Hawks any credit for beating the Heat no more than Joe Dumars gave Curry credit for making the playoffs. The Hawks should have swept the Heat - the Heat sucked terribly. It was only b/c of our LACK of the things I just said that almost had us losing to the Heat. We were blown out thrice by a bad team (Wade notwithstanding).

So, this isn't just about Woodson b/c there are several things that have to change, but many of those things a coach has a significant hand in changing. So, we disagree - I think that's been proven many times over. I have watched coaches of successful teams get fired b/c they didn't think the coach was good enough to get them over the hump, so nothing makes me think that Woodson is above that happening to him. As much as you want to tout this 'improve every year' thing, it simply doesn't matter to me. I'm not a fan of our coach and not confident in his ability - plain and simple. 1 winning season in 5, bad philosophies, bad player mgmt just don't hold sway with me.

If I thought it was the players not listening to a sound philosophies and coaching, I'd tell you it was that. I don't think that's what it is. So, let's just leave this debate there b/c the point of my blog was to say that I DON'T think we're moving in the right direction this offseason. Time will tell if you're right or if I'm right or if there's some middle ground.

Best,

LS

thirdfalcon said...

Look, I don't think you were really trying to belittle me. I just think your hard-headed, and your a little stuck on this Woodson thing.

Cause lets face it, Woodson could get fired 10 games in, we could hire the second coming of Jerry Sloan, and none of this would matter.

I've been trying to steer the conversation to other areas, and I have to say that I haven't been able to do that.

But no hard feelings. It takes all types, and I'm glad your as passionate about this as I am.

Cheers!

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

I would agree that I am hard headed, though I'm not sure that you're far behind me in that regard. No worries, my friend.

If anything, I'm always willing to admit when I'm wrong. Right now, we're just guys with diverging thoughts on how to get to the top. Let's see who wins. As for moving forward to other things - I'm always game for new debate.

LS

thirdfalcon said...

BTW what's record for post counts?

If you think Kobe was the best player inthe NBA last year I think we could push this into the 60s at least!

Xavier said...

Well I think we are on the right path. At the start of free agency I felt we needed a couple of moves nothing major because I didn't think there was any realistic trade or signing that could be made that would make the Hawks instant contenders. And that is fine with me because I see our team progressing not regressing. Now it's possible the Hawks may lose more games next season but the same can be said for the Lakers. Within the east Philly is trying to incorporate Brand which I don't think is possible w/ their style of play. That's why I think the signing of Bibby was a good move considering how we play. I think a distributing point guard would not be as effective as Bibby because the Hawks can only space the floor w\ 2 players- JJ and Marvin. If Josh had anything of a jumpshot I would change my mind. That's why I think Boston worked so well offensively 2 yrs ago. If a team can win a championship w/ Derrick Fisher or a team can get to a championship w/ Rafer Alston, the same could be done with Bibby. I also think we are still the 4th best team in the East (better than Philly who will probably have Louis Williams as their starting PG and Chicago who is basically replacing Gordon w/ Deng which is a wash to me (And can someone tell me why the Hawks gets no love for winning their playoff series but chicago gets props for losing to an injury plagued Boston team). And until I see K.G. look like the K.G. of old we have closed the gap on Bos. And I'm saying this w/ the belief Marvin will be back and Zaza or a equal replacement will be signed. t

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

First, I think LeBron is the best player. Second, this is the HawkStr8Talk record for posts on one topic.

As for Xavier, I won't try to get into much of what you said - other than to just say you're making a lot of assumptions I wouldn't make. I will say two things:
1. I don't feel good about the Bibby signing. Your answer was - it's good b/c of the style we play. Well, the style we play isn't going to win us a title. Not going to rehash about Woodson, but I'll say this - I wish Sund would get us players for a system that wins titles and hope that Woodson adapts his philosophy to his personnel. I think we are so happy that we have a decent PG after years of bad ones that we're willing forgive Bibby for not doing the things that are necessary to win a title. You can win with Fisher and Alston when you have Bryant and Howard. We don't have anything close to that, so to use those comparisons leaves a lot to be desired.

Additionally, they have much better defensive personnel and strategy. We don't. Bibby is horrendous at defense, so is Crawford. For all of their shooting, they are giving up that many points are more. So, the point being - I'd MUCH rather have Sessions, Miller, or even a Kidd at $18M b/c we don't need just a shooter at PG. We need a distributor AND a defensive presence at the position. I'd rather have J. Jack-type than Bibby. Our style isn't a good style for winning playoff b-ball games. If you want another shooter on the floor - fine, go get one, not at the expense of a sound balanced inside-outside game and defense.

Now, second point - the reason we aren't getting any credit for beating the Heat is that the Heat sucked. Period. If we wanted credit for beating the Heat - we should have swept them. Or at best - we should have not gotten blown out thrice. I went to 2 of the 3 Heat wins (one in ATL and one in MIA) and it was embarrassing to watch us. That level of effort reflects on the coach, the team, and your impression of them. Chicago got props b/c they played with heart, determination, and guile beyond their years. You can dismiss the Celtics all you want, but you're completely delusional if you think (even without KG) that we're better than the Celtics or that the Celtics weren't good (even without KG). I'm not sure what you're watching, but the Celtics almost made the Eastern Conf. Finals w/o KG.

The Celtics' defense alone is the reason we won't beat them anytime soon. Not to mention the other 2 HoFamers and All Star point guard, so I'm not sure what you mean by closed the gap. The gap is WIDEEE btw us and the Celtics, so if you're saying that maybe we are 14 games worse instead of like 20 games, then so be it. I'm not a big fan of reg. season learnings anyway - let me be clear - we'll win games next year, but that's b/c most of the teams in the East suck. I did an analysis of how many good teams we beat last year and it was like 10. So, that's no measure of greatness - we can beat up on bad teams all day. It's when we play good teams when Woodson and our style and our intangibles will result in double digit losses in the postseason.

So, I'm not leaving my thought that the Bulls and Sixers are better than us right now. And that a good argument can be made that the Pistons and Wizards are on our door step.

Jesse said...

Boston, Cleveland, Orlando, Chicago, and Philly have all gotten better (on paper that is) over the last few weeks. The Hawks, not so much. Sure, we have tons of shooters, but all of them, including JJ, are streaky, and none of them, maybe with the exception of JJ, play any form of defense. We need a stronger frontcourt to counter all of the horrible shooting nights and horrible defense that will occur throughout the season. Without Zaza and another big, this team might actually be worse than it was last year.

But, we still have some time and a little money left to fix these things. Too bad I don't have any faith in it actually happening though.