I wanted to update my offseason report card from a few weeks ago since 1. many things have changed since our last report card and 2. many people continue to try to sell me on the fact that the Hawks have done good things this offseason. Since we've been unmoved by our offseason upgrades (re-signing last year's players do not qualify), Hawk Str8Talk HQ is looking to figure out what we can do to improve this team. That will be the subject of our next blog. First, we'll update the offseason board below and then get to analysizing.
1. Lakers - Added Artest. Lost Ariza. (Limbo - Odom)
2. Nuggets - Added Lawson, Afflalo. Lost D. Jones (Limbo - Kleiza, Petro, Carter)
3. Spurs - Added Jefferson, Blair, McDyess. Lost Bowen, Oberto, Thomas (Limbo - Udoka, Vaughn, Gooden)
4. Blazers - Added no one. Lost Rodriguez, Frye. (Limbo - LaFrentz)
5. Rockets - Added Ariza, D. Andersen. Lost Artest, Yao, Mutumbo. (Limbo - Wafer, McGrady injury)
6. Mavericks - Added Marion, Q. Ross. Lost Bass, Stackhouse, George, A. Wright. (Limbo - G. Green)
7. Hornets - Added D. Collison. Lost No One. (Limbo - Ely, R. Bowen)
8. Jazz - Added Maynor. Lost Boozer (soon) (Limbo - Collins, Almond, B. Knight)
1. Cavs - Added O'Neal, A. Parker. Lost Wallace, Pavlovic. (Limbo - Smith, Szczerbiak)
2. Celtics - Added Wallace. In Limbo - Marbury, G. Davis, L. Powe, M. Moore.
3. Magic - Added Carter, R. Anderson, Bass. Subtracted by Alston, Battie, Lee, & Turkgolu. (Limbo - Lue, Foyle)
4. Hawks - Added Crawford, Teague. Lost Law, Claxton. (Limbo - West, Jones, Williams, Murray)
5. Heat - Added no one, but possibly Odom. Lost no one (Limbo - Moon, Magloire, Head)
6. Sixers - Added Brand, Holiday, Kapono. Lost R. Evans (Limbo - A. Miller, Marshall, Ivey, Ratliff, Rush)
7. Bulls - Added James Johnson, T. Gibson, Pargo. Lost Gordon (Limbo - A. Gray)
8. Pistons - Added Gordon, Villanueva, Daye, Coach Kuerster. Subtracted Wallace, Afflalo, McDyess, Iverson, Coach Curry
9. Wizards - Added Arenas, Foye, and Miller. Lost Pecherov, E. Thomas, Songalia
10. Raptors - Added Turkgolu, DeRozan, Evans, A. Wright, J. Jack. Lost Marion, Kapono, A. Parker (Limbo - Delfino, J. Graham)
Well, it looks like we have updated the list to include one more team in the East - the Raptors. While most of the Atlanta fan base seems to have sated by the trade of spare parts for a useful part, it is still unsettled on whether the Hawks have made any appreciable upgrades to the team outside of a reliance on our current players' offseason improvement. But we recall that last season's 2nd half and postseason revealed areas that need improvement in order to move up in the East (or even to keep status quo).
It was apparent to most that the Hawks were lacking in defense, rebounding, interior depth, leadership, and toughness. These areas were not up for much debate, so what has been done to address these areas? Nothing...so far!
While the East's Big Three all made moves to improve upon their core assets, the Hawks tried to match them with the acquisition of Jamal Crawford. As we noted earlier this summer, we are not as enamored of this deal as most. At a price of $1.5M, Flip Murray provided us 12pts a game in 24 minutes as the backup shooting guard/point guard. As a starter for the Golden State Warriors (a team that plays at the highest pace in the league), Crawford provided 19.7pts a game in 38 minutes as the starting shooting guard. Basically a 1 pt per 2 minute clip for each player. Now at a price of $9.3M, that trade doesn't look so appetizing as the prospect of using Law & Claxton as chips for a big man and then re-signing Flip Murray at a fraction of the cost for similar production. While we certainly don't believe Murray to be a defensive stalwart - he's still an upgrade over Crawford defensively.
That said, we admit that on its face - the trade is better than nothing, but the question remains that it might be short-sighted to take a trade that improves your talent base when that talent isn't addressing the areas that caused your 2nd half slump and postseason collapse (Note: we consider 7 games to beat the Heat (3 losses by an avg of 20+pts) and a sweep by the Cavs in all uncompetitive games a collapse.) So, while our friends at the AJC seem to be declaring the Sund era a success, we are still in wait and see mode. This roster still hasn't been filled out. We still don't have Marvin Williams in the fold. We still have qualifying offers out to Solomon Jones and Mario West (which still puzzles us). We still have no idea how our 5 weaknesses have been improved. These are weaknesses that are time worn for winning championships.
That coupled with the fact that other teams are netting at more talent than what the Hawks have attained to date speaks to our working assertion that we're losing ground to the teams ahead of us AND that the teams behind us are catching us. If the Heat add Odom, we will have another team in the running for the 4th seed in the East. It's no guarantee that any of the new teams' additions will result in the chemistry that will result in a rise in the standings, but it stands to reason that adding All Star talents in Washington and Philly, adding NBA champion experience and talent in Toronto and Miami, growth in Chicago, and possibly just a new coach and chemistry will catapult Detroit and/or 3-5 other teams past the Atlanta Hawks.
We're going to wait until the roster has been filled out to pass judgment on where this team will reside in the standings, but at this juncture - we're still not convinced that healed injuries and Flip 2.0 is enough to keep our standing as the 4th best team in the East.
Hawks vs Raptors final score: Defense struggles as Atlanta falls to Toronto, 126-115 - The Atlanta Hawks played quite well offensively against a top-tier team in the Toronto Raptors, but the defense was lacking in route to a 126-115 defeat...
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