Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Offseason Blues - Updated...

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)

East
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.

94 comments:

thirdfalcon said...

Heat; we'll see if they get Odom or not. I'm pretty dubious, but that woukd be a major addition for them, and they would jump over us.

76ers; I wouldn't say they are adding Brand, since that assumes he stays healthy. I think when you hitch your wagon to a guy that's injury prone, you have to assume that their is a large risk that he will get injured again.

However Kapono will be big for them, since they have had no one on their team that can shoot threes. He will help their offense in a similar way that Bibby helped us. They do have the potential to beat us provided Brand stays out of the doctor's office.

Bulls; They should get worse with the loss of Gorden. Although it is possible their young players improve enough to make up for that. Since we have plenty of young players that figure to improve as well, I still think we are ahead of them.

Pistons; They made so many changes that it's hard to know what they will do, but I don't see any reason why they got much better.

Wizards; Arenas is even more injury prone than Brand, so again I don't know if you say they are "adding" him. Their Defense is going to be so bad that they will have to score 120 points every night to win. Fun team to watch, I'm sure, but they don't scare me at all.

Toronto; Bleh. Turglalu was the worst signing of the year imo. Jack is a nice pickup for them though. Not even a little scary.

rbubp said...

The assessment seems pretty fair to me except that yeah, the Sixers had Brand for a large sample of games last year and he was not working out. Losing Miller, adding Kapono, it definitely remains to be seen what they do.

I also have to agree overall with TF, that whether all of these teams have actually upgraded is in great doubt. in many cases they have lost significant assets while gaining others, such as Toronto now having no bench, and Chicago losing Gordon, and Detroit adding not one but TWO matadors while giving up one of the better interior defenders (Sheed).

Our upgrade is minimal, yes, but a reasonable person would likely not expect that we would be threatened for fourth by anyone other than Miami plus Odom.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

@TF, Ok, let's just let your arguments stand for now. The mix hasn't put together for all teams - the Bulls could have Boozer, might not have Tyrus Thomas - there are lots that could change, so I'm not going to say what they will or won't do, but I happen to think that Derrick Rose having the ball more than makes up for Ben Gordon.

That said, I'm not saying we're going to be 8th. I'm saying it's plausible that the team chemistry and mix could work for some of these teams enough to overcome our status quo (and that's how I see our offseason). Now, I will say that I could be wrong about it, but that's what I see right now. I see teams attempting to fix their problems and trying to improve and I don't see our offseason as doing anything other than saying - a year of the same guys will grow together and do better. I like 'fix our problems' over 'hope our problems go away'.

And that would work if the teams ahead of us didn't attempt to get better (and in my opinion - DID...with the Cavs being the only question mark and no matter what - they are still about 15 games better than us). And that's my issue.

So, I'm only going to close by saying to rbubp - I'll say it's borderline insulting to have a conversation about this that presumes that I'm not reasonable about the Hawks. Everything I do stands reason - what's not reasonable is to believe that the Hawks as presently constituted are a lock for 4th. that's maybe the most laughable thing I've heard this offseason.

I hope I'm wrong - I hope I look back and say what a sage guy you are, but I'm gonna hold fast to my 10 years of season ticket holding, my complete year devoted to studying the Hawks and putting my thoughts and assessments on this blog to validate my reason. Now, if you read these blogs and thought my assessment of the Hawks is crazy, then so be it.

But if it's not reasonable - I'd just say - provide comments that let me in on what isn't reasonable b/c I'd be very interested in what insight, research you've done to conclude what you conclude. All I hear right now is opinion. I'm arguing about Law, but I was the guy who said we should trade him at midseason last year. I was the guy saying let's get McDyess, Millsap, etc about 20 games into last season. I said we'd get swept if we didn't add pieces at the trade deadline. So, I'm not sure what's not reasonable about the assessments of this team.

I said Joe Johnson was gonna break down if he didn't get less minutes, so understand this is what I do. I don't see good things in our future with Bibby and Crawford. I see injuries this year that without any depth will cause us to lose more games than we should b/c we aren't going to play Teague. All of this is based on what I've seen from our coaching staff. I hope I'm wrong, but I've been pretty right about our Hawks trajectory.

About the only thing I never predicted was the Boston series of 2 years ago - that was out of nowhere. Everything else - pretty dead on...

thirdfalcon said...

Your right. Everything could break right for one of those teams.

I don't know if your a college football fan, but consider the 2007 Georgia bulldogs. They were a terrible team at the beginning of the year. The lost to a much less talented South Carolina, and needed a rally to beat an inferior Colorado team. They just weren't playing good football.

Then around midseason, something clicked. Everything came together and all of the sudden the Bulldogs were playing as good football as any other team in the country. They Beat Florida, then Auburn, made both their quarterbacks cry (that cracks me up to this very day). Both teams were considered much better than Georgia. Finally they blew out Hawaii in one of the most lopsided games in BCS history. The emergence of Knowshawn Moreno as an elite college back explained some of it, but not all of it.

They went into the 2008 season ranked #1, and seemed poised for great things. But things just didn't work out. They had injury problems that explained part of it. But really they just didn't have "it".

One thing that's great about sports is that sometimes teams just catch fire and go on a tare. Denver and Orlando were both great examples of this. It's really impossible to explain why it really happens, but things just seem to organically come together, the sum becomes greater than the parts and teams transcend themselves.

This could happen with any team in the NBA next year, ours included. After all every year the final standings look much different than anyone predicted them to look.

All you can really do is keep tinkering with things, and hope they turn out for the best. You can talk about leadership, but what does that even mean? That if you put Robert Horry, and Steve Kerr on the team as you 11th and 12th men things are going to magically work out in your favor?

I don't buy that. We may make champions into legends but if Derick Fisher had played on the Clippers his whole career instead of the Lakers, no one would give two shits about him. That's just the way the world works. The truth is he is just an average NBA player that was professional in an unprofessional league and he happened to play on some really good teams.

What does this mean for the Hawks? They need to address their two biggest issues from last year. Rebounding, and a lack of depth that causes us to really too much on our starters.

Crawford helps us with depth on the guards. No matter how many times you say he is the same player as Flip, he has had a higher PER every single year of his career, and he can play about ten minutes more a game. This is the difference between Joe playing 39 minutes per game, and Joe playing 32.

He also doesn't need Woodson to monitor his situation as closely. Meaning that when Flip wasn't "feeling it" he had to be taken out of the game. Crawford will still find ways to score.

thirdfalcon said...

(had to break this up)

The interior depth is still unresolved, as is the rebounding issues. We have the means to address our depth, but rebounding is a tougher fix. The biggest reason is that Josh is just not a good rebounder.

The best way to fix this is to bring in a player that is capable of taking minutes away from josh, but that's a tall order considering he's the second best player on the team. Drew Gooden seems to be the only candidate available for this way.

Another is to bring in another power forward, move Josh to small forward, and move Marin to the bench, or another team. This would be less than ideal, since we don't want Josh to be put in even more of a position to shoot jumpshots.

The third option is to trade Josh for a equal power forward that can rebound and replace the other production Josh provides.

The best option is for Josh to just learn to be a better rebounder, but that may not be likely. He has a long term contract, and he really has no reason to listen to anyone.

This is what keeps us from being an elite team in my opinion,and not just with his rebounding. If Josh would just play to his strengths this team could jump to another level. Maybe we wouldn't be able to beat the Lakers, or the Cavs, but we certainly wouldn't be concerned with losing the forth seed.

thirdfalcon said...

Since I can't sleep I'll go ahead and do the teams in front of us too

Cleavland; I think you'd have to call Shaq an upgrade over Wallace at this point in their careers. Shaq isn't what he used to be, but he can still provide most of the things that the Cavs probably hoped they would get from Wallace.

Celtics; I don't know what Sheed is really gonna do for them that's not done much better by Garnett. Sheed and Garnett have very similar skillsets, so I'm not sure that they will play that well together. That's still another great, smart, and experienced player they added to the other three they have, so it's an upgrade, but not as huge as you might think.

Magic; Vince Carter is a much better player than Turkalu. However one of the reasons they did so well last year was because they had such a unique style, and they might have lost that. It's a good problem to have, but they also might face a hangover when they realize that it only gets harder when you realize that t gets harder now that they have a bulls eye on their back.

Bottom line, I don't think Shaq will ruin the Cavs chemistry, The Celtics didn't add much more than they already had aside from insurance, and the Magic face chemistry, and hangover issues that they will have to address.

Also, a short note about the Bulls. Dereck Rose was already playing extremely well last year, so unless you think he's ready to make the leap to superstardom, he's not due for a huge increase in production.

rbubp said...

Look, man, I made a comment about your post about the teams changes and how they might affect the Hawks' playoff status this coming year.

That's it. All that other stuff, where your whole world is threatened by my one little comment, I did not say or imply ANY OF IT. Nor did I intend to imply ANY OF IT.

Step off, just a little bit.

rbubp said...

"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)"

Was this the genius of your pretty dead-on opinion or some special analytical resources that you had? You gave yourself three chances and still didn't get very close to the actual Eastern Conference standing. At least one of the three did get you close to the record, though. Maybe you should give yourself five tries this year, than claim how dead-on you were when one of them is right.

I know the rest of the world picked the Hawks to do about the same, but you appear to be claiming you've got special tools the rest of us/the world don't have.

thirdfalcon said...

"Human beings are reasonable creatures, when pressed, they will find a reason to do whatever they want"

-Benjamin Franklin

thirdfalcon said...

And that was pretty epic btw .

k I'm done

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

@TF The football references don't really connect to basketball, though. Great analogy, but the sports aren't apples to apples. In football, you can go from worst to first - in b-ball, that just doesn't happen without a serious infusion in talent. It doesn't just click unless you win the lottery or you bring in significant pieces. My point is that the Hawks didn't bring in anything to make me think it's going to click.

You bring up examples that actually have answers - Denver specifically - Billups happened. It was easy to explain. Same for Orlando - they were just way more talented than most in the East. So, yes - standings can look different, but save injuries - for the most part, the teams that are going to be fighting for championships is fairly predictable from the onset.

So, I just disagree with your assessment of how getting better happens. It's not just tinkering to me. The Hawks need an infusion in talent, not a tinker. Right now, a Horry or a Kerr wouldn't help the talent base, but I can say that guys like that or Lindsay Hunter or Derek Fisher would help with teaching the team how to win in the playoffs. There are plenty of players who are not taking you to the Finals, but are keys to winning them.

So, I would continue to say - we don't think the same about what's valuable in the NBA. And that's cool, but I'd sign Derek Fisher in a heartbeat for the Hawks. He could be worse than Acie Law and he'd be more valuable to our team winning. Forget professionalism - he has been clutch and could teach a Josh Smith how to be a champion. That to me could be the difference btw talented, but flawed Josh and superstar Josh. Billups provided leadership beyond his on the court value that changed the complexion of the Nuggets.

Anyway, we don't agree on it. We'll see who's right. It's clear we don't agree on Crawford b/c every time you bring up his offense and PER - I bring up that he's one of the worst defensive players in the league. Having him in the game for longer periods of time isn't solving that issue. I'm not sure why you keep adding things that aren't even true - i.e. Flip was being pulled from games - Flip played his most consistent ball down the stretch - Woodson wasn't sitting Flip b/c he didn't have it any more than he sat Bibby or Josh or Al b/c they didn't have it. Woodson's substitution patterns don't have a rhyme or reason. If he wants to rest Joe, he can just do it. That wasn't based on some 'Flip didn't have it tonight' factor.

So, I will just say even if I buy your Crawford argument that he's vastly better than Flip. Again, it doesn't solve anything we really needed. Going into the offseason - backup for Joe Johnson wasn't in the top 4. So, that's all I keep coming back to and I see that you don't agree. So, let's move on to other topics that we may agree on.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

@TF, your Josh Smith argument is a good one. I too am perplexed as to how to address this.

I must first say that I differentiate two things when talking about Josh. I think Josh is our most talented player from the neck down, actually one of the top 5 power forwards in the league from a talent perspective. Joe Johnson is our best player, but that's only b/c his b-ball IQ is better than Josh's.

So, I agree that Josh moving to superstar level (and part of that is convincing him to be a monster rebounder along with Horford) changes the Hawks trajectory - it makes me think we can be 4th at minimum, but part of that is Josh and part of that is Woodson and part is the front office. Another way this goes away is if Josh develops a jump shot this offseason that is as consistent as Marvin's (which is highly unlikely).

Where I think Sund can aid Josh is to definitely have a mentor who has talent. That's why I harped so much on a McDyess or even a Horry signing last year. I think it's critical to someone besides the coach telling him how to be the best he can be. Josh doesn't fully respect Mike Woodson and he hasn't had anyone with the exception of maybe Lorenzen Wright to help him grow up - we forget that he's only 24.

Woodson can say he's trying to keep Josh from shooting jumpers, but that's contradicted by an offense that puts him in position to do so.

So, I'd love a combination of mentor and offensive system change that doesn't even allow for Josh to be outside in position to take a shot. I would love to have an option good enough to make Woodson comfortable enough to sit Josh when he has brain lock on taking jumpers outside of that new offense. Personally, I think he should sit him regardless, but when you're the lame duck coach - that's unreasonable. Someone like Popovich or Sloan would rather lose and prove a point in hopes of seeing the light come on vs. win and enable bad habits in a player that will cause losses when it matters most.

So, I think there's a balance there in helping Josh get better that doesn't just depend on Josh getting it. That's the leadership part that I'm saying is missing. It's a collective leadership that helps us determine what's best for the team, then implement it and check each other when we're straying from execution of the plan for our team.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

@TF, all I'll say about your analysis of the teams ahead of us is that they are still at least 15 games better than us in my opinion. Doesn't matter how much better they got - I'm not predicting how their changes will shake out.

The Celtics, Cavs, and Magic could lose 10 more games and still finish ahead of us comfortably. So, I hear your analysis, but they are still harboring championship hopes and we aren't.

Every team has question marks. Their question marks will only show up deep in the playoffs, it won't keep them from threatening to win 60+ games. I think ours will show up much sooner and could cause us to lose in the 1st round of the playoffs.

Side note on D. Rose - I definitely am projecting him to be MUCH better. He was a 20 yr old PG without a consistent jump shot and averaged 16pts and 6 assists a game. I think he still has two levels ahead of him. All-Star level and superstar level. Chris Paul went from ROY to Star to Superstar/MVP level in 3 seasons. I certainly believe that he can move to All Star level this year. A boost to 20pts and 10 asts still leaves him with room to grow AND could still provides for a boost in wins that threatens our position in the East.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

@rbubp, let's be clear - I'm not losing any sleep over anything you said. So, it's not that serious and I don't really even think what you have said is all that serious either - I just entertain it for the hell of it.

Now, your last post just brings me back to my point about cherry picking information to try to make a point. So, you are absolutely correct about my first attempt ever at predicting regular season records. I was off and if you read more blogs - you'd see that about 3 weeks into the season I said that this team was much better than advertised. Marvin was better, Mo Evans and Flip were performing better as Childress replacements than we could have ever imagined.

So, I was wrong about the Hawks trajectory. I also was unaware that Detroit would trade away Billups, that Brand would be out of the season, that Arenas woulnd't play, that Deng would be hurt, etc, etc. So, the value in what my assessments were was in watching an entire season and believing that the Hawks were ill-prepared to perform well in the postseason.

So, your cherry picked stat proves you right. Congrats - I'm not sure that it matters regarding the only things I've said this offseason, which were - Bibby and Crawford aren't good signings if we want to get closer to a title (which isn't to be confused with whether those signings will result in a significant drop in wins - that, as you so aptly noted, is not my strong suit) and that the rest of the East have made moves to catch up with us.

For some reason that's resulted in a ton of comments to dispute that point, and in your case, called it unreasonable. But trust me - it's not personal - let's hope I'm totally wrong about it all and was concerned for no reason.

thirdfalcon said...

That's not what I was saying.

That's not how all teams get better, it just happens sometimes, and it does happen in basketball. The Magic essentially had the same team the had the year before, and they played better basketball in the playoffs than they did in the regular season. It's easy to say that they simply had more talent than everyone else now, but before they actually went to the finals no one believed they would be as good as they turned out to be. On paper they weren't.

You can just say Denver brought in Billups, but that doesn't explain all of it. He brought a unique blend of skills that specifically addressed many of the problems that Denver had.

The most famous instance of this phenomenon would be the Pistons in their Title year. They played way over their heads when they beat the lakers.

It is similar to what Bibby brings us in Woodson's system, and what you seem to think Andre Miller would bring us. albeit on a much smaller scale.

What it really might be is chemistry. The players learn, one way or another, how to put their ego's aside, compliment each other, and play close to their collective maximum ability. And it's something that transcends sports. It can apply in any aspect of life where people are working together. A good example is the USNT in the recent soccer tournament.

Fisher could probably help us learn how to approach playoff basketball. The point is that this isn't an RPG where he a has a leadership attribute that raises his teammates clutchness attribute.

Almost always the player in question has to be good enough that the other players have to listen to him, or else they have no reason to care what he thinks. That's the way people are, they won't listen unless they think you are good enough to threaten them. In L.A. the other players were scared of Kobe, who they knew backed up Fisher's message, which is why they listened to him.

The reason I bring up Josh is because he's the one who has the potential to transform to the hawks. The one whose ceiling is farthest away from his actual play. Maybe bringing in a guy like Fish would help Josh get closer to his ceiling, put it would only come if Josh had a compelling reason to care what he had to say.

To digress a bit, I'm not saying that Crawford is vastly superior to Flip's numbers last year. I'm saying that he is almost a lock to replicate his numbers while Flip is far from a sure thing, and in addition to that there are a few things he brings to the table that Flip does not, these include a higher ceiling, the ability to play more minutes, and less required micro-management.

And Woodson did micro-manage Flip, but I won't ask you to admit that, since I know you will never admit anything positive about Woodson.

The other major problem was rebounding. And I say it's a major problem because it's one of the few things that bad teams did better than us. But as long as we have Josh playing PF that will be a problem on some scale until he improves in that area. Although bringing in a role player to help would go a long way.

thirdfalcon said...

Interesting note on Smith and his need for a mentor. I used to work at a golf course, and one of the guys that frequently played there was a former high school basketball coach. He was actually the first high school coach to ever play black players, and was a shot away from winning a state title with them. Really cool guy.

Anyway he's retired now and has been for a couple of decades, but he stays fairly close to the high school scene. He knew Josh Smith when he was 12 and knows his family. He's also somewhat connected to the hawks, though I never asked him exactly how, I think he just has friend among scouts and such.

Anyway I asked him why Josh shoots so many jumpshots, since he's obviously bad at it and he has to know that unless he has some kind of selective memory syndrome. He told me that Dominique is actually his mentor, and he's telling him to take them. He seems to think that he will get better at making them, and when he does he will be an absolute monster of a player.

When you think about it, it is certainly true that Josh would be amazing if he could start consistently hitting jumpshots. And he wouldn't be the first player to get better along his career at shooting.

If you look at Dominique's stats, he was a bad long-range shooter early in his career, but he eventually got better. And if there is a player that you would compare Josh Smith to it would probably be Dominique.

I'm not saying this is positive, but it does certainly explain alot.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

@TF First thing you should want to know about me is that I don't have a problem with admitting where I'm wrong.

What is different is that I don't accept things just b/c it is said. I don't think that's the case for you either regarding what I said. So, you have given us some subjective opinion that I'm just saying I don't agree with. Flip being micro-managed being one of them. I don't even know how you micro-manage a backup shooting guard who is playing 24 minutes a game and if Woodson was good at micro-managing players - there are some players I sure wish he would have micro-managed in the last few years (namely, Josh & Acie).

My assessment is that you underrate things I don't and overrate things I don't. I don't overrate scorers in the NBA. I don't underrate leadership and toughness. I don't think Crawford brings anything outside of scoring, so to me - trading for him doesn't do anything to raise the playoff ceiling for your team. As for micro-managing, you say that he won't require as much and all I'll say is that he's a volume scorer who scored a lower field goal percentage than Flip, so I'm not so sure that managing his shot selection will be worth watching.

But we don't have to do the back and forth on that. I don't agree with your Magic assessment. The fact that Lewis and Nelson turned into All Stars, then went out and found players to fit their system after injuries hit make sense for why they won 60 games and were title contenders. Their ability to be title contenders didn't just appear out of nowhere come playoff time in my opinion.

Again, I say we don't have to agree...we certainly don't agree that the Pistons represent this phenomena you describe. The Pistons were in the Eastern Finals for 6 straight years and one year they ended up winning it all. I fail to see where they played WAY over their heads. The Lakers just didn't play that well together and weren't better than the Pistons.

I'm not going to agree that Bibby is magic for us. I think the fact that we had backup level PGs as starters was a bigger factor for why there was a big jump in our offense than anything else. Meaning anyone at PG with more talent than Anthony Johnson and Tyronn Lue (3rd string on the Magic) would lift our team. That said, our offense STILL isn't elite, so as I continue to say about both he and Crawford - ok, they can score the ball, but they can't stop the ball from being scored, so what does it matter?

So, we aren't getting anywhere on this particular part. I hear you - I disagree with you on the value of leadership and how well the Hawks play defense, but we agree on the value of rebounding and interior depth. What's next to talk about?

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

and for Josh - Nique may be saying that to Josh, but he also criticizes Josh for taking those shots when it's not in rhythm and when he hasn't established his inside game.

So, I'd buy that he'd say that, but I also think that Nique isn't giving him the conditions under which he should shoot OR Josh ignored that part of the discussion.

Marvin has a more pure stroke and he didn't shoot 3s 2 years ago b/c it wasn't his range. Once he practiced in the summer and got the range, he began to shoot them. Josh needs to take a similar take. As long as he shoots under 30% from outside (2pts and 3pts), it's unfathomable why he's put in positions to shoot those shots, but I digress.

thirdfalcon said...

You really don't hear me.

I'm not saying that Crawford greatly raises our playoff ceiling. I'm saying that he based on his career averages he is stable, and you know what your getting with him. Whereas Flip's production could drop significantly, and in addition he offers a few subtle upgrades to flip. I'm not expecting a jump in the standings with him or anything, nor am I expecting us to challenge the Cavs because we have him.

The move is treading water, but it is less expensive than the three players we could have in his place, and the one guy among those players that helps us could fall off the planet next year.

We basically agree, I'm just saying that their are positives to having Crawford over Flip, and there is significantly less risk.

Your take on the Magic is strange, Lewis had a very similar year to the one he had before, and Nelson didn't even play for them much past the all-star break, and didn't play again till the Finals, so what else do you have on that?

The Piston's won the Title the first year of being an elite team, and spent the rest of their run trying to get back there. It's not like they tried 5 times and succeeded on the 6th.

I would never suggest that Bibby is magic for us to you, since I know that your defenses would automatically stop you from considering it. I'm saying that on a small scale, when Bibby first came, he was the only good three point shooter we had except for Joe. He helped a huge weakness for us and we became better because of it.

Before he came over we were like 20th in offensive efficiency. After we got him we were top 15 at least. Our defense did suffer but for better or worse, he transformed us.

I didn't bring that up to prove that the Hawks are going to make a leap though. If anything it backs up your point that another team could put it together and rise up. If you would listen rather than hear you might realize that, but instead you assume I'm attacking you. This was the meaning behind my last post on the previous topic.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

@TF,

Well, then I am missing your points. I have interpreted your points as - you like the Crawford move b/c it duplicates what Flip does, has some upside, and has lower risk. Also, that treading water isn't a bad thing for the Hawks.

Now, my points were that bringing back Bibby and Crawford was similar to treading water and that treading water when other teams are making moves to pass us by wasn't a good thing in my eyes. Your counterpoint was to illustrate why those other teams wouldn't or couldn't catch us.

My point to that was - I'm not sure that your assumptions about teams not being able to pass us by is a good way to think about it and better yet, treading water when the teams ahead of you are trying to get better is probably a recipe for the gap being sustained or widened. Both scenarios provide me cause for concern.

So, I'm not sure what we agree on since I'm saying - I would never have traded for Crawford or any backup SG. I see lots of risk in bringing on Crawford - the biggest one being us getting worse at defense and further damaging the balance in touches for Smith and Horford.

My points about the Pistons and Magic relate to perspective. I don't think those teams played above their heads unless you're comparing them to the year before they were in the Finals and are saying they looked like different teams. During the year that they went to the Finals, they played well enough all year to be considered a contender for the title. That's really my only point.

So, I don't know if I'm just misinterpreting what you are saying, but I'm willing to reconsider what was said.

Final note - I'm not willing to give Bibby as much specific credit for the Hawks' improvement as I am willing to give specific credit to the fact that once we had a decent starting PG - we would flourish. This is why I'm less inclined to have an aging Bibby and more inclined to get a PG that also helps us check off boxes of need in defense and leadership, but we've been down that road.

I'm not as disappointed in the Bibby signing as I am the Crawford one, but I will agree that our ascent coincided with getting Bibby. So, he gets some credit, but not so much that I have to want him back. I'm just saying (rightly or wrongly) that I think ANY decent PG would have transformed us.

thirdfalcon said...

It's important to say that Crawford wasn't a signing, it was a trade, that's a major difference since we didn't sign him to a 9 million per year contract, we traded two players and decided not to sign another who's contract would have added up to 10+, major difference.

I also don't think that any of the teams behind us are doing anything to get better. The only team that consciously made additions that improve their talent are Toronto with Turkalu, but that's arguable since they had to give up Marion to get him. And by the same thing that you use to judge the Crawford and Bibby acquisitions, namely that Marion offers similar production to Turkalu and vastly superior defense, that equals a net loss correct?

The Pistons would like to think that they improved their team through the additions they made But I think that they just traded their best point guard since Isaiah so they could overpay two non all-stars who don't even try to play defense 90 million dollars. Not really an addition of talent to me. And again shouldn't you be condemning this just as much as you condemn the hawks for bring in two players that are substandard defenders?

Two others have all-star caliber players that should return from injury. However if they do miss significant time again this season, can you really say that would be a surprise to you? Could you say that their teams hitched their fortunes to injury prone players, and it's their fault for doing that? At some point don't you have to assume that the Wizards and 76ers will be lucky to get 50 games combined from each player?

The others you are counting on organic growth from young contributes, but doesn't our team have the possibility for similar growth?

It's not that I think your unreasonable, but I think your being inconsistent with your analysis. Especially when you consider that most of those teams were worse than us defensively last year, and the team that arguably wasn't has a coach that is just as big of a joke as ours.

The problem is that you are giving other teams a pass on areas where you judge your own very harshly. Please say if you think this is unfair criticism, because I don't mean to be overly critical. I just thought that maybe this didn't occur to you. Also please let me know if I'm wrong about any of the teams, and why they actually made moves that figure to make them better.

(I know there are many other areas that I should address, but they will have to wait till tomorrow, I'm going on too little sleep right now, lol)

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

@TF
I understand that Crawford was a trade - apologies if that was lost in translation somewhere.

Now, I don't have to assume that injuries will occur and I've already assumed that the Hawks are counting on our young players to get better to make up for the talent other teams are acquiring. I would say that if I have to account for injuries, then Marvin's back has to be in the equation, right? So, I'm not accounting for injuries that haven't happened.

I also have acknowledged that you and I judge the talent acquired differently. That assessment has been done - I said what teams I am worried about more than a few times - you explained your disagreements already. Now, there are a ton of factors that could change that. We have to account for that happening with the Hawks as well. So, I'm not making a prediction - I've said what teams I'm worried about. Nothing you're saying so far is making me change my worry.

I'm going to wait until our team is signed and we're ready for training camp before I make any definitive statements. So, I'll take your statement further regarding my analysis - I haven't done any deep analysis on other teams. That's why I'm saying it's puzzling that we're having a 'debate'. I don't think I'd make some of your assumptions, but the key is that I haven't really done a lot with this other than to say - other teams are signing players and trading for players to address their 'problems'. The two trades we made - one was for a backup SG that I think was a bad one and the other was to trade away someone who possibly could provide interior depth.

I don't think either trade helps us fix our problems. So, I don't think it's unfair criticism from you, but I would say it's unwarranted since I'm saying I just don't agree with your logic while also saying I haven't finished putting together my own logic on this for other teams. I just said - other teams are doing things (some of which I like, some of which I don't) to address their problems in a way that I don't think we did.

So, I don't think I have to do an analysis of each team behind us to say - hey, they may be closing the gap. Interestingly, if you'd go to SI.com or ESPN.com and look at their offseason reports on player movement - it's pretty universal that the East is stacking up talent. I don't know what that means come October, but it does support my point that standing pat could be something to worry about.

Hope that helps b/c I don't think it's going to change anything for me to go through my thoughts on the teams below us again. That's already been done in an incomplete fashion. I don't know what teams will leapfrog us next season. But I will say that there are only 3-4 teams that have no shot at the playoffs in the East, so the other teams are on my radar to catch us.

That's the crux of my post. If you believe that the 4th seed is ours and we're locked into that. Ok. I don't share that thought at all. It's my hope that we can get back to the 4th seed (b/c I don't see a chance for us to do better than that) and I certainly would not be surprised if it happened. I also wouldn't be surprised if we lost ground to 2-4 teams. That's it.

Xavier said...

ATL to be honest I think the whole thing that sparked this debate was your blog about the Hawks being an 8th seed or worse and you would rather trade places with the Wiz, Bulls, and Pistons. Now I think you have soften your stance a bit. I'm not sure if it's from our debate or just a second thought about some of the moves that teams made that may (or may not since you said yourself you didn't like some moves from other teams) improved that team but did not make them better than Atlanta.
And I kinda agree w/ 3rd in the sense you judge the Hawks(or coach ;-) and management) more harshly than other teams. For example in your last blog you listed the Heat and possibly by Odom. Possibly should be attached to L.A. and Dallas too right? It's almost like you are assuming the worst for the Hawks. And I guess based on seasons past the Hawks have seemed to always dropped the ball, but I think these Hawks are different. Kinda like any Falcons fan thinking we have never had back to back winning seasons, so I'm going to assume they are going to having a losing one this season. The Hawks have a ways to go to get to an elite level, but I know they are closer than most teams and they are closer than last year.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

I'm glad you asked that question.

I haven't softened anything. At the moment of that blog, we hadn't signed anyone. So, at that time, I would have preferred to be in the position of actively making moves to improve the team's weaknesses rather than the 'take forever to sign our free agents, not looking to find upgrades to our free agents' stance we've normally taken. This was in light of my belief that we made a trade for a player that doesn't help us fix any of our top issues as a team.

So, I don't back down on anything I said. I still feel that way. I still feel like we're not better today than we were yesterday as it relates to getting to a title. Now, I'm a Hawks blogger, so of course, I am going to be harder on the Hawks b/c I know more about the Hawks than I do other teams. I'm not watching Wiz press conferences, interviews, mini-camps, training camps, preseason, other blogs, media write ups, and every single game to make specific assessments about those teams.

So, let me be clear about what I meant - I would prefer to be doing what those organization's management teams were doing to improve their teams. At that point, they had moved quickly to make their teams better in a way that I hadn't seen the Hawks. You can make the argument that you like the Hawks approach. That's up to you. For me, I wanted us to aggressively find who we needed and not wait to get our free agents (unless it was Pachulia or Williams) signed, but to go find upgrades. We'll find out next season if what moves worked out, but I do believe that almost every other team I listed has done a better job in their attempt to get better. I felt that way 2 weeks ago and I feel that way today.

And that attempt could be the difference in us being 4th or being 8th. I'm sorry if I wasn't clear in my point - I don't know that I want all of those team's talent (though I'd probably trade for most of their coaches), but it was their management's approach to improving their weaknesses that I was referring to. Again, I'm not sure if they have accomplished their goals, but I'm happy they changed up their mix. I wanted the Hawks to do the same. So, that's what I meant and I still mean it.

So, yes, I'm always going to be more harsh on us b/c I'm spending time on us. Not on anyone else...I'm not assuming the worst at all, though.. I put in Odom for Miami b/c that would be an addition for them AND they offered him a contract. I didn't put LA on their b/c that wouldn't be an addition - they had him last year. I didn't add Dallas b/c Dallas hasn't made him an offer.

So, just ask me and I'll tell you what I think. Just as you have done...I mean I could agree that we're closer to elite than most teams right now b/c in the literal sense that's true. I also would caution you that a flawed philosophy can have a lower ceiling than others. My biggest problem right now isn't that we can't get better, but that our organizational approach to building this team has a ceiling that isn't NBA title. There are other teams that are worse than ours who I believe have an approach that has a ceiling of NBA title.

That's my biggest point and why I defined what the purpose of my blog is. It's Str8Talk - it's not being a homer, it's not saying the simple things. It's saying - hey, we may not get back to the 4th seed this way and hey, by the way - I don't want to just be the 4th seed. So, we need to do something different. That's what I said then and that's what I mean now. Hope that helps you.

thirdfalcon said...

I'm not saying you have to assume injuries will occur. I'm saying that you have to acknowledge it's a risk that is pretty major when your projecting things. Marvin missed 22 games last year with injuries, and 80 the year before. Areanas played 2 games last year and 13 the year before, while Brand played 29 and 8. Considering they are both the best players on their teams, it's safe to say that that is a much bigger risk to those teams than Marvin's back is to ours.

And I don't see where any of the teams behind us have tried to address their weaknesses. I do see allot of teams that are afraid of spending money. I've already gone into all of the Eastern teams in detail, and aside from the elite 3 I don't see any upgrades added.

So if you want to go into a bit of detail on them that's fine. If your not ready I don't know why you posted this in the first place. You don't have to go into intimate detail on each team, just tell me what each team did that equates to addressing a team weakness.

Again it feels like your inconsistent with your criticism with the Hawks compared to other teams.

I do recognize that any team could put things together in a way that they haven't previously and see improvement in the win/loss column. That's really what my Bulldogs analogy was about. Sometimes that happens for teams. And sometimes teams go the opposite direction too. That's really not something you can predict, and allot of that is dependent on luck.

I don't think status quo is a good thing for the Hawks (although I don't think they necessarily are going to be status quo by the end of the offseason). I think status quo would be a neutral thing.

The good thing the Hawks did his summer was keep their financial flexibility. They didn't overpay anyone, and next summer or this year via trade they can still acquire another piece or two that could put us over the top, and make us championship contenders.

Maybe there was a deal out there that could put us over the top, and maybe there wasn't. But pulling the trigger on a move that doesn't put us there, and kills our cap space would be a disaster (i.e. the Pistons and the Raptors), and I'm glad that we didn't make that mistake.

We really need a perfect move for a star player to get there, and for that you have to be very patient. It's not like we have an old team that's looking at a window that's about to close.

In the meantime I think this team will probably finish within 5 games of where they finished last year, whether that's 5 games worse, or 5 games better is impossible to say.

I do think that there is something very positive to say for continuity. It's good for chemistry. This team should go into training camp with the attainable goal of winning 50 games.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

@TF,

Respectfully, this conversation is going nowhere. I don't see the point in repeating the same things over and over again. I think you are at a point where b/c I don't agree with your assumptions you find yourself saying that I explain them further, so either you can agree or you can find another way to say you disagree.

I could do the point-counterpoint with you on what you've said, but if you read all the comments - the answers are already there.

Again, my point was to highlight what was and is happening right now. I've already left the door open for change in thought, in belief in new moves, etc. What's inconsistent is that you want to change my purpose to fit what you want to say about things happening for the Hawks this offseason.

I'm not going to participate in that part. If you have a question, ask it and I'll answer with my thought. If you want to continue to say that there's a way I should approach what I write in my blog, then I'd say - write your own blog.

I highlighted my concern, said I'd reconsider at the end of the offseason, said I thought other teams were doing more than we were (those teams at this juncture would be the Pistons (coach, Gordon, and Villanueva), Wizards (coach, Foye, and Miller), Raptors (Turkoglu, Jack, Wright), Bulls (Pargo), Sixers (Kapano)). I could tell you how they affect those team's weaknesses, but I don't think that would solve anything b/c 1) I already said where I thought many of these moves would benefit them and 2) you've already said why you don't believe they make them that much better.

So, what's the point? We've beaten this to death. So, I'll say it again - you and I don't have to agree with how this offseason is going. My overall point is that I wish we were further along in filling our holes. Even Sekou's post today was about our lack of big men AND the fact that decent available big men are drying up. So, my point has been made.

So, while I find your analysis incomplete at best, I'm not trying to make you agree with me. I'm not asking you why you are making an assumption that we're going to sign players tht will address our weaknesses and to provide evidence for why it's gonna happen. I'm assuming that you've made some assumptions that you hope work out. I'm not asking you why you don't agree with me that status quo could be a backwards move vs. neutral. I'm not asking you why you think having financial flexibility matters if it's not used.

I'm not asking these things b/c I already know we don't agree. You laid out what you expect from the Hawks record-wise and I would say - yep, me too. Then, I would say - so what? A 50 win Hawks team as presently built is still ripe for a first round loss if they don't address their weaknesses from last season. And that's all I care about - I don't care about winning 50 games and getting our asses kicked b/c we don't have depth, we don't have an offense or defense built for playoff success.

That's the foundation upon which my blog is built. So, I didn't project anything else into the mix. I didn't say overpay anyone, I didn't say we suck, I didn't say anything other than - I wish we did more, I think other teams are doing more to address problems, and I didn't like our investment in Bibby and Crawford. Is that good enough or do we have to talk about that more?

thirdfalcon said...

You haven't said what teams have done to improve though. All you've done is listed some names, and said they are addressing their weaknesses.

Other than saying Derreck Rose, you've just said the east is more talented now, and 4/5 teams have a chance to become really good.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

@TF, I don't want you to think I'm ignoring you, but if your summary is that that's what I said - I'll leave it there. I am positive I've answered everything you've asked in the past 3 blogs and the accompanying comments. So, I'm sorry I'm unable to put it in terms that you get completely, but that's what's fun about opinions and blogs.

I will just leave at - that's not what I said, but I'm afraid that I feel like we're spinning our wheels here. Maybe Jesse or Xavier can do a better job of explaining what I'm saying.

Cheers & Hawks Love!

thirdfalcon said...

Well if your not willing to go into any more depth into any teams aside from the Hawks I guess we are done here.

I really think you argument is kind of shallow though. But if your cool with that I am too : )

Xavier said...

I think this is a case of Perception vs. Reality.

In some parts it's been perceived that other teams are getting better than the Hawks because they are more active so far during free agency. But the reality is before free agency started the Hawks were a better team than most of the teams in the East. Now at this point in free agency even though we haven't signed a big, yet, we are, I think, still better than most teams. I personally see this team better in the post season next year based on the Hawks being healthy, Horford, Smith and Williams getting better individually and as a unit, JJ being more prepared for the post season and Woody leaning on Crawford more throughout the season to allow JJ to be fresher when the post season comes around.

And 3rd, ATL is not going in depth as of yet on any other team.

And ATL, I guess it would be nice if on AUG. 1st I guess, you could state if you still see the Hawks as an 8th seed and what is your basis for that prediction. Because in the East nothing has changed since you posted that blog.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

@TF, Yes - I'm more than happy to be called shallow if it ends this debate. Like most everything, I don't agree, but if that ends it - call me Shallow.

@Xavier, I love that you are the reality and I'm the perception. I wonder what else you know that I don't know, so I can write in my blogs and take credit.

I will say this - I'm not going to into any depth on any teams other than the Hawks. I keep saying to you guys - that ain't my job. I'm not a NBA beat writer. I'm a Hawks blogger. For most of the guys who take this seriously - I'm not sure you're going to get the viewpoint you seek. We go deep on the Hawks - that's it. I let the other bloggers go deep on their teams. I know 5 of the full-time Hawks bloggers and none of them are excited about the Hawks offseason. Add about 5 folks from SI, ESPN, and CBS Sports. There are some who feel like the Hawks did great. There are some that are lukewarm.

I appreciate them all and don't need to say more than what I think, but I won't try to make you add depth to what you think is 'better in the postseason' b/c like I said from day 1 - it's early in the offseason. This all could change - something could happen to turn my frown upside down and I'll SAY THAT THEN. For now, I'll just continue to say that just b/c you think that we're the 4th best team in the East doesn't make it so nor does my 'hey, I think our offseason has sucked' make it correct. You just have an opinion like I do. Unfortunately, I have to write a dissertation with graphs and formulas to explain it to you guys.

If I was to do to you what you want to do to me, I'd be all over your assumptions about the Hawks next season when 2 of your assumptions (about JJ and Woody) are in serious jeopardy if you've ever watched a Mike Woodson coached team. You see - I can admit that it's possible what you want to happen is plausible despite a lot of evidence that Woodson nor JJ have ever done what you hope they will do this upcoming season. You'd also be assuming that the frontcourt unit will grow despite limited roles and touches in the offense the past 2 seasons. You see - I'd ask you to describe how what hasn't happened in the past starts to happen. I'd ask why defense hasn't come up once in your posts with regard to Crawford and how we're going to defend these teams that you think aren't better than us.

Since that's not gonna happen, I hope that you'll just respectfully disagree as you have and we'll see if I change my mind (b/c I have no belief that you'll change yours) and we'll see who is correct come next spring. You see, I'm very cool with that prospect. I'd love to be wrong about my feeling. I have no vested Hawks interest in being right about what I'm saying. As much as I am critical about the Hawks and what I don't like, I'm there every game cheering my ass off. But that's me...Shallow Hal

Be well, my friends and stay thristy!

Jesse said...

I'm going to have to start my own blog just to mediate you guys, haha!

Personally, I think this team, as currently consituted, peaked last season and will regress this year. It is of my opinion that if we had faced the Chicago last year in the first round we would have been bounced. I think if we had faced Philly we might have had the same sort of series that we had against Miami and moved on to the second round. Miami blew us out for three games which doesn't bode well for us.

As it stands right now I believe that these four teams (Hawks, Heat, 76er's, Bulls) are all closer to each other this year than they were last year. For the following, I'm going to assume zero injuries to any player because injuries are too much of a variable and pure luck of the draw.

The Hawks have done nothing to get better and everything to stay the same. The only significant move is bringing Crawford in to fill Flip's role, essentially adding a more consistent scorer and getting a little worse defensively. For a team that has one of the slowest paces in the league and not the best shooters around, that doesn't bode well to me. We also have yet to address our front court depth issues. Though, with the way Woodson runs this offense and sub rotations, the front court tends to be of little use outside of rebounding errant Smith jumpers. So, maybe the front court isn't as much of an issue to the people running things in the organization as it is to us simple fans.

The Heat have yet to do much of anything either, but I believe Beasley and Chalmers are going to be even better this year, which puts them closer to beating us in a seven game series than last year. Does that mean they will win more games than us and be seeded higher? Not really and unless they do something else, I don't see that happening. In this league, if you are not constantly trying to do something to get better than those in front of you, then your team is destined to always come up just a few games short.

It's hard for me to get a handle on the Sixers mainly because Brand is such a wildcard. In the very few games that he did play last year, they looked unorganized. I'm not really sure he fit the style and tempo they wanted to play, but maybe that's why they let Miller go and brought in Holiday and Kapono. I think the additional time to work together will help them find the best way to utilize Brand to the greatest effect, and if they do that, this could be a very dangerous team. Again, is it enough to beat the Hawks in a seven game series? I think so because Brand can be that big of a difference to them. I also think it's very possible to see the Sizers win more games than us as well.

Ah Chicago, how I loathe thee. I'm somewhat split on Chicago letting Gordon go because I thought we was more impotant to their success last season than they might want to believe. Of course, the owner is well-known to be somewhat of a scrooge when it comes to paying for a players second contract. With Rose though, I'm not certain that Gordon is all that needed. They have added some decent players and if they can build on their second half from last season, I think they are the team that most likely will push the Hawks for the fourth seed.

As for Cleveland, Boston, and Orlando, I think they made solid moves to make themselves beter and stretch the gap between them and our group. I don't see any of the above mentioned teams pushing for the third seed, so they are what they are.


So, I say at best we end up fourth again, with fifth being the most likely, and sixth possibly being the worst I would go. As for wins, as much as I hate doing this because of how wildy variable wins are, I guess 50 would be asking a lot, 40-45 is most likely, and 35 would be the lowest I would go. I just don't see anything we did as making this team better than what they were last year.

Xavier said...

ATL I'm glad you asked.

Actually I was referring to the front court's defense getting better primarily through Horford becoming a smarter defender and better rebounder. Williams as well(smarter defender).

Offensively you are right and that worries me also but I do think Horford will expand his range which will help overall. Josh, I don't know. I would hope at least focus on specifc aspect to improve offensively. Ball handling in regards to posting up or a consisntent jumper mid range or longe range.

As far as Crawford and defense, for the record he did play decent defense in Chicago. I too can present a chart and or formula to explain this also. Now people harp on how he doesn't play any defense. Well I'll give him a pass due to him playing for Golden State and a coach who didn't want him there and the Isaiah led New York Knicks.

As far as Woody and JJ, I think both of them learned a thing or two about each other. I could be wrong but when teams get swept I would think that would be a sign that something has to change. I really think that Boston playoff series was fool's gold for the Hawks. Call me Optimistic Xavier I guess. And I've said before I could be wrong.

But ATL, I wonder can you change your mind about Woody. If the Hawks win 50 games and lose in the 1st round or lose terribly in the second round, I agree Woody must go. BUT if the Hawks win 50 games and look ultra competitive in the second round or even reach the Eastern Conference Finals would you still think Woody is still below average in all four of your coaching catagories and still should get the can?

And ATL I'm sorry. I didn't expect you delve deep into other teams to know what to expect. But did think since you watch Hawks basketball and I know you do, you have a sense of what each team has and what each team added. And to make a prediction about the Hawks, you have to know what the Hawks are up against. That's why I expected a response as to why you felt the Hawks slid almost out of playoff contention. Not that they had a poor offseason.

Xavier said...

Jesse interesting

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

@Xavier, here are some things I can actually answer thoroughly.

1. Regarding the Hawks defense, I have to make sure we're always in sync regarding what I mean when I'm talking about our defense. First, Horford and Williams can get better and our overall defense still be woefully inadequate from a scheme perspective in playoff basketball. I think that's my point. I'm not discounting anyone getting better individually on the defensive side. I'd hope the same from Josh.

As important to me, our defense could get better and still be unable to stop good offensive teams. You saw that happen with the Cavs in the postseason. They aren't getting Shaq to help them win 66 games. They could do that already - they got Shaq to help them defeat the Magic and play D. Howard one-on-one. That's the concern I have - I'm not focused on regular season defense and Horford doing well against the Grizzlies - I'm focused on our ability to defend good teams in the postseason. And with our current crew - I have serious concerns. Horford could average a double double and get to the postseason and get owned in the post. So, I guess I'm saying I didn't have a problem with our defense against most teams (hence, our above average defense ranking) last season, but against teams we need to get past to win playoff games - I have major problems.

2. Offensively, I'm glad you share my concerns and I think you're right when you say - you're optimistic. That's not a bad thing. I'm not either optimistic or pessimistic. I'm just going off what I've seen. And what I saw last season was that we don't even know if Horford expanded his game during last offseason b/c he didn't get the ball in the post to find out. So, that's why I lack confidence in Woody. I watched Horford dominate the Bulls early last season with 27 and 15, then I watched him get half the touches for 10 straight games.

So, I know I've concentrated on Acie, but I share as much concern about Woody's lack of recognition that we need to develop our low post game as I did his dealings with Law. I don't think he's helping Horford or Smith grow offensively by scheme or touches.

3. No comment on Crawford - I've said my piece there and I'll hold out further judgement. Maybe you're right, but I just know that all the scouts, writers, bloggers, etc all say - Crawford is an all-time bad defensive presence. I can't get past that until I see it.

4. Last thought - here's what you need to know about me. I have strong opinions, but it's Str8Talk - I will praise ANYONE who does well and I will criticize anyone (even my beloved Josh and Al) when they deserve it. I've done both. So, I will say again - there's no ax to grind. I'd love to be wrong about Woody. If you read my blogs, you'll see that I started with wanting a new coach, then I changed my view for about 25 games, then I went back to - yep, he is who I thought he was.

If he changed his stripes, no worries - I'll say it. But today, I haven't seen him ever change anything that remotely would make me think it's even possible. And with that, I make my assessments. Some of your statements of optimism are based on people changing what they've shown (Crawford and Woody, specifically), so the only difference we have is that I don't see them changing. I'd be pleasantly surprised if they did and I would be happy to say it and say that I'm wrong. I'll make that commitment to you.

I'll acknowledge it, but let me be clear - winning 50 games doesn't make a coach good. I keep saying - the NBA is FULL of bad teams. Our talent will take us past most of them. You can beat bad teams consistently and win 45 games, so the playoffs is all I care about. So, if we play hard, competitive basketball in the playoffs - I'll reconsider my position on Mike Woodson. Not a problem at all. Doesn't mean I won't want another coach, but I'll certainly re-consider that request.

Jesse said...

Yeah, I am an interesting fellow. I figured how can one critique someone else's opinion without extending the same curtesy in return and offering up my own opinion to be thoroughly critiqued.

While I tend to wholeheartedly agree with most everything Larry puts forth, I just don't see the Hawks dropping to the 8th seed. I'd be hard pressed to say they finish 7th either. But, of course, this is all based on how things stand this very minute and considering all wildcards (injuries, coaches, etc) are equal.

I didn't mention the Wizards, Pistons, or Raptors because I don't consider them a threat to the Hawks directly. Arenas is to the Wizards what Wade is to the Heat, but I don't think he has the same level of supporting cast to make up the difference that the team would need to become a reasonable threat to the Hawks in the final standings. I also don't believe they would stand a chance against us in a seven game series.

The moves the Pistons have made so far look good on paper, but I feel like this team has lost its identity and direction. Also, I have no idea how to judge the new coach objectively. I could easily see them fighting for the 6th seed, but no more. I think they would be a decent match-up with the Hawks in a seven game series, but I don't think they could pull it out.

The Raptors kill me at times. Their parts indicate they should be better than they have been, and on some days they are a monster to deal with. But, focusing on their moves, I think this team would be the one that has the best chance (of these three being mentioned) to challenge the Hawks for that 4th or 5th spot in the East. Being an avid GT fan, I know what Bosh and Jack can do together and I'm actually really excited to see them together again. I've always thought Marion was a drain on every team he has played for because of his shoot-first style, and I think Hedo is a much better fit for this team than Marion ever would be. I feel that this team, along with the Bulls, has one of the better chances at beating us in a seven game series.

Of course, many things could happen that probably won't, and many things that might not happen probably will, and all of this will be a moot point later. Yay for wildly inconsistent variable and unknowns!

Xavier said...

I see what you mean ATL.

And Jesse I must admit I'm guilty of critiquing and not posting anything substantial. I think I will state why Woody is a great coach.

Jesse said...

Awesome Xavier. For the most part, I can never get people who are for Woodson to fully break it down to me why they are, or at least not with any real in-depth analysis. Fundamentally, I think the argument really comes down to what one believes a coach should or should not be. Same goes for the system in place.

Also, I want to clarify something in my comments. I stated my opinions were based on wildcards being equal and had the word coaches in teh parens. I didn't mean to imply that all the coaches were to be equal, but instead that they all would remain static with the team throughout the entire season and playoffs. No firings or resignations. I re-read my post and couldn't tell if that was implied correctly myself, so I figured I would properly convey it here.

thirdfalcon said...

To be fair I didn't say yo were shallow, I said your argument is. Your thesis is basically, "the Hawks didn't do anything to improve and look to slide this year, all the teams below us have addressed their weakness so they might get better and pass us."

You've provided ample depth for why the Hawks haven't gotten any better, and I've had some of the deeper discussions I've ever had about the Hawks with you, so no, I certainly don't think your shallow.

However, I'm never going to show you the disrespect of treating you with kids gloves. If you think I'm holding you to a higher standard than I'm being held too, than ask me those questions.

Please, blow me out of the water if you can. I'm not here to make myself feel better by winning arguments. I'm to talk Basketball, and look at my team from a different perspective, that's all.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

@ For the first time in a while, i see progress people. And by that I don't mean we agree on everything, but that we understand each other's points without it having to be restated. The point I think I got is that Xavier is an optimist and thinks some things will change to project us to the place he thinks our talent should dictate.

I don't feel comfortable with making that assessment just yet, but I definitely understand where you are coming from Xavier.

As for Jesse's comments, I agree with some of those assessments, but I do want to say one thing about the Wiz (a comment that should not be construed as an endorsement that it WILL happen - I repeat, I only offered the thought that we could be moving back...I repeat the word COULD, not will). I would say that the Wizards are a MUCH bigger threat than the Heat sans L. Odom.

Maybe you forgot but Caron Butler and Antwan Jamison have both been All Stars and 20pt/game players. They then added Miller and Foye to their mix this offseason. Now, the Heat - they only have 2.5 legit players on the roster. Beasley, Wade, and O'Neal (him being the .5). I'm not worried about them at all. In fact, that was the reason i was so mad at the Hawks last postseason. I felt like if we learned anything and were serious at all - we'd have swept the Heat (or even just been close in the games we lost). Getting blown out by that band of suckers was what started my belief that we needed an offseason of upgrades.

So, I think you're underrating the Wizards. I understand the lack of defense calls regarding the Wiz, but their offensive firepower far outweighs the Heat (and even the Hawks at this juncture), so it's not apples to apples. To be clear, I don't even think the Heat (unless they get Odom) is a factor in the East on any level. Wade can get them to the playoffs (remember - LOTS of bad NBA teams), but he can't win a playoff series by himself.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

@TF, That's fine by me. Here's where I think we're falling apart though b/c I've written about 60 comments and 3 blogs..I KNOW that the sum total of what I said wasn't as you've described it.

I did explain fully why I believed that what we've done in the offseason wasn't sufficient. I explained what I wanted us to do, why I wanted us to do it, and what I think it means for us. That can't be missed in translation.

I did also say we could absolutely slide and that it's not inconceivable. What you guys missed is that when I wrote the article and EVEN since - teams are still adding pieces that weren't just their RFAs and UFAs and we still aren't. So, I said it's not inconceivable that (watch this) IF WE DON'T DO MORE THIS OFFSEASON we MIGHT be passed by other teams.

I then said - we'll see what happens in the rest of the offseason before I make a determination on this fact, but TODAY - I am concerned. Not panicked, not stressed, not jumping out of a window, but I'm concerned.

I also said that we don't know how the new team dynamics of all of the teams will work out (b/c you never know until they play the games), but that I would prefer to not go with the status quo and the team trajectory could project higher than us. So, I haven't said anything of the things you put in my 'shallow' argument. I'd own it if I said what you said, but that's NOT what I said.

That's where my frustration is/was with that part of the conversation. So, don't treat me with kid gloves - I like the spirited debate and I'm truly interested in what substantial debate people put forth for Mike Woodson. Trust me, I've written 4-5 full length blogs regarding what I don't like about his coaching, so I'd love some balance. I just need it to get past - we've won more each year or we won a playoff series that we should have won going away.

Now, let me have it. Thanks.

thirdfalcon said...

Well, obviously you have said allot more than I described, but if you had to narrow it down for a college thesis paper, I think that's the point that your trying to prove with the evidence that you have provided. I was trying not to write a giant wall of text, but I hope it's understood that I have taken much more from you than that one sentence.


I really think we agree on where this team is right now from a macro perspective, but we disagree on where it is going.

There are three "classes" in the NBA. The Lower class are the lottery teams. They are the farthest away from contending, but in many ways it is a good place to be since their is hope that you can grab a great player in the draft, and build around that player to become a contender. The Cavs tanking and then drafting Lebron James is a great example of this, as is the spurs drafting Tim Duncan.

The middle class is made up of playoff teams that really aren't contenders. In many ways this is a tough place to be in, since their isn't much hope of drafting a great player. It's possible, but mostly these teams are looking to get better by trades, free agent signings, and growth from their young players.

The Upper class is made up of the teams that have a real shot at winning the championship. These teams don't have a whole lot of room to improve their rosters, and They are really looking for minor upgrades among role players that will address specific weaknesses, not major pieces that will greatly improve them.

The Hawks are probably upper middle class. We probably aren't gonna get a great player in to 15 to 25 range, so if we are gonna move into the upper class, it's most likely gonna have to be through trade or free agency.

It's very easy to make a mistake though. A few years ago the Hawks added Glenn Robinsin to Shareef and JET, and it looked good on paper, but failed on the court. You could argue that the Pistons made a similar mistake this year by overpaying to one-dimensional players who aren't all-star caliper.

The danger is that they now have little cap space to fix the mess, and if they want to get out of it, they will have to blow everything up and go into the lower class. It's like buying a house that you can barely afford, and can't sell. The Pistons "bought" a playoff spot for the foreseeable future, but how are they going to contend? How are they going to take the leap to the upper class?

The Hawks should be looking for a move that will have impact like Gasol to the Lakers, Rasheed to the Pistons, or Rashard Lewis to the Magic. Everything has to be perfect, and it may take awhile for that move to present itself. But we have lots of time to wait since our roster is so young, but what we can't do is financially lock ourselves into our current talent level.

In the grand scheme of things, a 5 game slide in wins or getting blown out in the second round isn't all that important. Just being there shows that we are close.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

Ok, now we're getting somewhere..

1. I like your analogy, so I'll roll with it. Yes, we agree on where we are, not where we are going or how to get there.

2. I can agree on upper middle class for the Hawks, but there are two ways we need to grow in my opinion. One is stylistically and the other is qualitative. So, from a talent perspective (the qualitative) we need more of it in areas that matter at prices that make sense (since we are working on the cheap in Atlanta). To move from lower class to upper class is actually easier in the NBA, so to do it from upper middle class you have to make smart moves in trades, in hiring, in free agency, and in drafts.

So, I've argued that we haven't done well on any of those areas this offseason. I wanted Blair, not Teague. I wanted to keep Andersen and see if he can be our Luis Scola. There are areas where I wish we had a talent infusion, not what I think is largely lateral. Not to debate that point, but just overall I think we all can agree the Hawks need more talent.

Now, the other part is stylistically - meaning we need to learn how to win clutch, tough ball games and play a style that works in the postseason. This is the lesser of the two, but it's the difference btw being in the playoffs 8 yrs and losing each playoff series and being there and learning how to win. So, that's where having the right players teaching (your Fishers, Horrys, McDyesses, etc) and having a coach that knows how to take the personnel and put it in position to win. So, you're right - winning 5 less games is meaningless. Gaining the experience from hard fought playoff games does have value. That's why I thought our postseason was so shameful b/c I don't think we learned anything from them.

rbubp said...

"TF, That's fine by me. Here's where I think we're falling apart though b/c I've written about 60 comments and 3 blogs..I KNOW that the sum total of what I said wasn't as you've described it."

Yes, it was. Just f***ing admit what you said/wrote, FOR ONCE. the problem is you have to explain yourself 60 freaking times because you won't admit to what you said in the first place.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

@rbubp..I think it's interesting that you seem stuck on this point. It's ok, though - I'm not going to debate it with you b/c I see progress being made in other conversations, but I will just say for your sake - don't bust a blood vessel trying to get me to say something I'm not going to.

I don't think it's worth your health. So, as my man says - stay thristy, my friend.

rbubp said...

I don't have any hope of convincing you to stick to your story, ATL. I've seen enough to know that won't happen. Consider me the heckler who feels he has to yell at Josh Smith to stop shooting jump shots just on principle rather than effectiveness.

I haven't even posted anything for most of this thread; I've let others attempt to illustrate, which they have repeatedly, their frustrations with your shifting explanations. But, as been said many times before by people other than me, listening is not your strong suit. So you go ahead and ignore the heckler while I satisfy my need to call BS on BS, and allow me to worry about my health.

Thanks for your concern, though. Touching.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

@rbubp This is actually cool - my first heckler. I'm honored to say I have one. Maybe I'll get others...we can have different parties and everything. I'll be in the Whig Party. You can be in the Woody Party. We can have third party candidates and everything.

It'll be like MSNBC, CNN, Fox News all on one blog. It'll be a stone cold groove.

Anyway, I'm glad you are here to try to keep me honest. I do think you're trying to tie to your personal summarization of a point. My point was a little more nuanced and I have tried to explain that, but it's not important enough to try to convince you of that. I'm satisfied that Jesse, thirdfalcon, and xavier and I have started to make some headway on understanding each other, EVEN in seeing areas where we may disagree.

I don't have a problem with seeing the situation differently. I hope you won't either. But if that's the listening you want me to do is to agree that your summary is what I say - it's probably not happening. If you'd like to provide your feedback and context in ways that may enlighten me - continue to do so. If nothing else, the collective feedback has provided me topics to blog about over the next few weeks and for that - I'm grateful.

As for feeling like it's BS, well, everyone is entitled to their opinion. I'm very satisfied, not only with my standing in the Hawks Blogosphere, but also, with the feedback I get about what I write. So far it hasn't gotten the Hawks org to stop giving me free tix. So, if there's got to be a heckler, then it might as well be you - it actually gives me encouragement that I'm actually doing something right in the world.

Cheers!

thirdfalcon said...

Wait, you get free tickets from the Hawks. WTF. I got to start sucking up to you to get in on that.

Lets see. Fire Woodson now, Crawford = Flip with worse defense. And we're gonna lose 40 games next year unless we bring in Big Shot Bob Horry!

Jesse said...

W/R/T the Wizards:
-That's cool Larry. I took it all into consideration and came to the conclusion that the Wizards and the Heat roughly pose the same amount of threat to the Hawks in the end. Arenas' game is very similar to Wade's and I think Beasley can be the Heat's Jamison. I haven't liked their game the last two years, but that also did not include Arenas, and that was the hardest part of trying to assess where they stand as a team. I was trying to assume Arenas would be healthy, but dude has been out for essentially two years.

In the end, I really couldn't care less about them, as I'm sure you don't, and going any further than what we have on these teams really doesn't add much else to the discussion. We are all making assumptions based on a paper doll model of these teams right now, the Hawks included (though obviously we have a better pulse on our own team since we watch them constantly).

Outside of that, you and I are on the same page. But that TF guy, man, I think he might be a lost cause. He's one of those evil Woody apologists and can't be trusted! (/endsarcasm - just to play it safe for now, haha!)

Jesse said...

WAIT!!! Scratch that last part, we've converted him!!!

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

@TF, hilarious - we'll see what the new season holds. With this recession, you never know what will change, but for now - it's a good deal.

But you'll have to sign some paperwork before we can get to visiting the Hawks together.

@Jesse, first, overall - I hear you on the Wiz - gotta see it to believe, but remember Arenas actually played last year. He's had a full offseason to get back on track and if you recall - the last time the Wiz had their big 3, they were essentially the Hawks last year (including the end of season injuries derailing to some degree their playoff push).

So, I hear you, but I also keep coming back to the fact that while I don't really expect 50 wins from them, I think it's plausible that they could be dangerous by the postseason if their coach mixes up the new kool aid correctly (or in other words - convinces them to play some defense)

But I totally agree (and glad you used an analogy that has escaped rbubp) - it's a paper doll we're talking about. I saw where the Hawks were talking to Joe Smith and Ben Wallace. What do you guys think about that? I think as the last piece of the puzzle - it's a good move. As we're currently constistuted and the fact that they don't put us over the top, I'm not too excited about it.

I certainly like a move to get a big man who is also a locker room presence - getting rebounding, defense, and leadership would be ideal, but talent trumps everything right now.

Jesse said...

Without going back and looking at all the numbers, I am somewhat ecstatic that we are actually talkig to players that would possibly fill a large frontcourt depth need. This simple fact alone shows progress in the organization alone across any front office regime. That being said, my initial reaction is that while picking up either of those two would be a net positive, I still think there are better options available that we should be pursuing first.

Pros:
-Both Smith and Wallace fill a need, that being front court depth.
-Both Smith and Wallace bring a ton of experience, some of which (at least in Wallace's case that is) is championship level.
-Both and Smith and Wallace would be cheap stop-gaps for a year or two.

Cons:
-With great experience comes great age. Both Smith and Wallace are 34 and so are those knees.
-Players such as Leon Powe and Drew Gooden are still available, both of which shouldn't cost much more and could provide quality depth for three or more years.

Of course, there may be some contract stuff that I am not accounting for, but these are just my initial thoughts. I think Gooden represents the best combination of skill and value and should be the first on our list of options. Powe is currently injured but would be a better long-term option than Smith or Wallace. I would probably take Smith over Wallace.

What would be even more interesting is how this would affect Woodson's subbing patterns.

rbubp said...

I didn't miss the analogy!!!! I objected to your earlier, now softened, definitive pronouncements about the Hawks' upcoming struggles...in one of your June blogs you said this:

"We are on record as saying that no single thing is more important to the Hawks organization than solving the coaching situation. Now, since it seems that we're rolling with a lame duck coaching situation...we have already lowered the Hawks 09-10 regular season/playoff projections by 5 games and one less playoff series."

This is unreasonable, as you know I said earlier--5 fewer wins just because they have the same coach, even before personnel moves have happened???!!! --as was suggesting (not the same as predicting, mind you) the Hawks would be the 8th seed based on returning the same team, before all the moves were done. I personally never once said the Hawks were a lock for anything--you seemed to infer that based on my rejection of the "we're backsliding because we're standing still" belief--only that to expect that they would be 8th was "unreasonable."

And now you want me to let go of the point because you have explained why you had to take three blog posts and 100+ comments to say that really what you meant was that this is all pure speculation and you are "not saying we're going to be 8th," you are "saying it's plausible that the team chemistry and mix could work for some of these teams enough to overcome our status quo (and that's how I see our offseason). "

Well, fucking DUH, man. That's what we were saying too.

But I do appreciate you taking my acidity in stride. Props for that, and peace to recognition. I actually agree with almost of all your assessments and quite appreciate your knowledge of the inside of the Hawks organization. I just don't care for being called, essentially, an idiot who hasn't been a fan long enough to know anything.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

Here's the one thing I don't like about Gooden (and I don't even know why folks keep talking about Powe - he's not getting signed until he's healthy. There's just no reason to even consider signing him until he he's 100% healthy).

He could be a net negative when it comes to the locker room. He's been let go from a lot of places for nothing. Kinda like Zach Randolph. Is a guy like him talented? Yes! So, why do people keep giving him up for 10 cents on the dollar? Uh, that's the question. If we had a stronger coach and/or locker room, I'd be all over Gooden, but with what we have now - I'm not sure that's a good move for our franchise.

I know I said talent trumps everything, but I think this might be one of a few exceptions. Doesn't mean that I am saying 100% no, but that is what would concern me with this signing. I'd be excited to see what a STRONG, POSITIVE, WINNING vet presence would mean for this team.

I just see so many intangible things that could make the players better and the chemistry better AND even make Woodson tolerable as coach.

rbubp said...

"I'd be excited to see what a STRONG, POSITIVE, WINNING vet presence would mean for this team."

I totally agree with this, but I fear those players are not looking at the Hawks as a viable place to go. I personally always thought Horry was overrated and largely two or three shots of hype, but McDyess would have been great and we didn't even get in the running for him (were there others? I don't remember). But why are we ignored? Coaching? Ownership? Locker room perceptions?

thirdfalcon said...

Well I ave been saying all along that we are going to add another big, so the fact that they are talking to vets like Wallace and Smith makes me feel better about that assessment. But I really hope we don't go for Wallace's corpse.

Smith would be ok, and I wouldn't hate Leon Powe. He's definitely the best big available, but I would be very nervous about signing a guy that you know won't play till several months into the season. I think that's a quirk I have more than other people do, but it would make me feel better if we went for someone who can play all year. Scars left over from Theo Ratliff I guess

I've gone back and forth on Gooden about 536 times, but he would be interesting. Kind of the opposite of Joe Smith, as far as the effect he would have on our team. He's a very talented flake, whereas Smith is the aging professional

I like Ike Diogu the best, so that would make me very happy.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

@rbubp

I see that you've decided to cherry pick again to find something to make your rant - reasonable. :) Listen, just b/c you say it doesn't make it so.

I would explain why it's reasonable to believe that a team full of contracts that exceed the coach's could be adversely affected.(Note: This cherry picked blurb comes on the heels of one of my blogs that was particularly critical of the Hawks front office for not ...wait for it - EXTENDING WOODSON'S CONTRACT) .

I would explain why it's unreasonable to suggest a fate similar to let's see - last season's Utah Jazz or Hornets or 2 seasons before with the Dallas Mavs b/c those things never have happened in the NBA.

So, I'm to believe that I'm unreasonable for believing that the offseason in my eyes wasn't as good as others may believe.

Anyway, let's get away from why I stopped even trying to reason with you and get to the only point that matters - I won't ever infer anything. I say what I feel is the case.

So there's no inferrence - I think you are one of those guys who gets stuck on the micro without looking at the macro and have little tolerance for people who don't think like you do. That's why I think you like to pull a couple of sentences or a paragraph to make your point. I could go through my site and pull together a few sentences and paragraphs to support any point of view.

You see - I didn't nail you to the wall after you spent zero time on the question I asked you about what about Woodson (aside from the two well-worn answers) gives you confidence. I didn't say - admit that you really had no good, reasoned answer to that question.

So, just know that that's how I really feel about your commentary. And I take it in that vein. I have no ax to grind for you or Woodson, just realize that you can't reason with everyone and you can't even have reasonable disagreements.

With that, I'll answer your question. I never wanted Horry to play minutes for the Hawks - I did want him on the bench, just like I don't want Lindsay Hunter, but I think having great vets on the bench who know how to win - helps the team chemistry and helps the coach not always have to be the heavy when a dose of reality needs to be levied. As for why that doesn't happen, I think it's partly that players don't want to sign with us b/c they don't see the commitment to winning a title and partly b/c the front office hasn't put a value on leadership and toughness.

The Hawks don't have an identity. And so, we don't pick players to fit a style and identity. That's what I think keeps players from seriously entertaining us. Those are the types of teams that get good, cheap talent. The only way you get those guys on teams like ours is to overpay for it. And you know we aren't overpaying for anything these days.

rbubp said...

"With that, I'll answer your question. I never wanted Horry to play minutes for the Hawks - I did want him on the bench, just like I don't want Lindsay Hunter, but I think having great vets on the bench who know how to win - helps the team chemistry and helps the coach not always have to be the heavy when a dose of reality needs to be levied. "

Please, tell me. What question did I ask that makes you think that I did not understand your statement about the need for an experienced big man???? Did you even read where I said I agree with you on that?

And when did I say Woodson gave me confidence? Huh??? Show me when I said that!

My issue is not macro/micro. My issue is that you don't know how to write what you mean without adding a lot of other junk that perhaps you do not mean. Here you are now doing exactly that, claiming you're not inferring WHILE INFERRING WILDLY.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

@rbubp

Here's where the comments must have some assumptions - I assumed some of that and I admit that. You are free to clarify what assumptions were wrong.

I can see where you may say that I'm wrong about what I inferred. That's simply EXACTLY what I'm saying to you. You see - we're just writing what we think the tone is of the messages. So, this is a perfect example of what I've been saying about you. You are telling me what your perception is of what you read vs. my intent.

I'll let you correct my assumptions as I wanted you to do for me. I definitely think the tone of your defense of Woodson was one that led me to ask the question about Woodson. You didn't reply and that was my point. I don't know if you have confidence in Woodson. I asked the question based on your defense of him in certain areas.

So, anyway, I think the engagement on this isn't helpful, so I'm moving on, but I think your point is my point exactly. Hopefully, you'll see that in what I'm saying vs. trying to be WatchDog of all things said.

rbubp said...

What I see is that you cannot do anything without assuming. What I also see is that you don't read the other blogs or you'd know that I don't care for Woodson. Because I did not answer your question you think that means I am defending him? That is a very vivid imagination at work, i'll give you that.

I agree that this is going nowhere. There is no conversing with you without you needing to defend your inconsistencies by inaccurately inferring the point of view of others, and it leads to arguments like this.

My point in "cherry-picking" quotes was an attempt to highlight where you have made certain assertions that I think need more clarification or are inconsistent. I guess I feel like we should say what we mean and be responsible for it. If that's not what you meant why did you write it?

Just write what you mean ONLY and stop making assumptions about others--or at least about me, please.

Jesse said...

I've never looked into it, mainly because Gooden has never been a concern of mine, but I don't recall there ever being anything specific like locker room in-fighting with him. I always thought it was simply contract issues that had him being moved around so much.

Either way, I think that if it's looked at from the context of him playing a limited back-up role off the bench, then the quantitave skill set far outweighs the intangible. Especially if it's a one year deal. I could be wrong though and if so, then I say try to get Smith on the cheap for one year and look at drafting a big next year.

Also, w/r/t my thoughts on the Hawks sliding this year even though the team is essentially the same, I want to add something to it that I don't think I have mentioned yet. It's not something I think is as simple as we stood still and everyone got better, though I do believe that there is some truth to that. My thinking has more to do with the fact that I think this team has peaked under Woodson and his "system". I think he and it are holding back the potential of not only the team has a whole, but the players individually.

So, while yes, I do think other teams have made moves that gets them closer to our level last year and possibly past us, I don't think that's the whole story. Obviously these are simply personal opinions that allow one to have a little fun with projections.

And completely off topic, I'm hoping one day I'll be able to move back to the A so I can watch every game in person. I've been gone for far too long.

thirdfalcon said...

I'll try to be diplomatic about this, but I think that what Rbubp is trying to say is that your writing isn't always efficient.

There's a quote from one of the founding fathers, and I can't remember which one but i think it was Thomas Jefferson, that says "if I had more time, my writing would be much shorter".

So please take that in the spirit it's intended, but that's some constructive criticism for you.

Now for your argument about getting veteran guys that have been on postseason runs. Most of those guys aren't looking to get on a team so they can be a mentor to guys that might win a title after they retire. They want to join contenders that they can win a ring.

So I don't thing it has anything to do with the organization, or it's commitment to winning. It's just that they don't think the Hawks can win a title this year

When/if we get to that level I think we will be able to get guys like that. A guy like McDyess wants to win a ring this year because he doesn't know if he has a next year or not.

rbubp said...

The frustrating difference here is that I have been using things you actually wrote.You, on the other hand, have been using things that not only did I not write, but cannot even be inferred logically from the things I did write...and in some cases your inferences are directly counter to things I have written on other blogs!

Your take on the Hawks, yeah, i agree with you, you're right about all of it, ok? I will not disagree with you in print again, I promise, lest you assume that I'm some sort of Hawks Pollyanna who doesn't get how bad a coach we have or doesn't understand that the status quo is often bad in the NBA or doesn't even know who the commissioner is or thinks Mario West is a great signing and why doesn't he play more or something like those crazy things.

Have a great day!

thirdfalcon said...

Jessie;

That could well be true, and if it is you will get your wish and we will see what this team looks like in a different system.

I wouldn't hold out much hope that that coach will be that big of an upgrade though. I think you guys are seriously overrating what a non-elite coach brings to the table.

In my opinion most of those guys are interchangeable, except for a few that are really good. And those guys are hard to get.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

I'll just leave you guys with this final thought...

I'm not a professional writer - there are no standards that I have to abide by to make anyone feel good or comfortable. I don't shift in intent and overall thought, so my point to you guys is that what YOU think is a shift or inconsistent may not be b/c it's coming from YOUR lens. That's what assumption is. There are SEVERAL assumptions we've both made, so I'm not sure what you're talking about. I am not saying that I'm not reading your comments and assuming that I understand what you're saying.

So, I think the approach that could have been taken - was to just ask me without the condescending or less than respectful, inquisitive tone? That could have eliminated a lot what has occurred on both sides, but I'm not going to be admonished by you or anyone as if I need to do something your way. I will buy that maybe we both are inaccurately doing this, but that's as far as I'm taking it.

Personally, I don't care, but if you want standards - that's where I'd start. So, I'll stick with running my blog the way I always have. I think if you read it - you'll see that the themes are very consistent. That's for both TF and rbubp. I say that respectfully. I started writing this blog b/c I love the Hawks. I didn't start it to try to mollify every person who thinks it isn't being written the way they want or that I'm not answering things in the manner that they want.

If you are unclear about something (and I truly acknowledge TF's attempts at asking questions of me in places that while he may disagree - he just wanted to understand my thought process). If that's what you're seeking, there's failure in your delivery of that message.

So, that's all I got on that...and in the continuation of writing whatever I desire.

Cheers!

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

@jesse, you know it's unreasonable to believe that the Hawks and this system have peaked.

:) That's a joke, rbubp!

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

@rbubp, I think the best thing at this point is to take the tone down a bit. I think a change in the tone helps us hear each other.

I think your comments and tone block whatever agreement you believe us to have. I'm not against you - I'm having fun with some of it, but in general - I'm glad everyone has an opinion.

So, you don't have to be condescending and go to the opposite extreme to make your point. I think it's how you make that point that's not beneficial. You feeling like you need to tell me how to write or run my blog - additionally not helpful or even desired.

Until I get a check for this, I'll do it my way.

Now, to the notes about the Hawks..
I think this goes back to my earlier point TF - I think you are underrating the value of a coach. I think a new one can help us on 4 different levels - so if he isn't good on all of them (and therefore, elite) - I think he can help us on any of the 4. Shoot, scheme, motivation, in-game strategy, role definition, any of those would provide us a boost that I think has a tangible reg. season and postseason benefit.

the sooner we're on that path - the better.

Jesse said...

TF, how many levels of coaching do you believe to exist? Do you only see coaches as either elite or non-elite? I'm just wondering because you use the term 'elite' a lot when commenting on the coach debate.

It's clearly too late, but before we get into another assumption battle here in the comments, why don't we lay down what we believe to be factors that coach must be successful in and how important we feel each are w/r/t to affecting the final outcome of the team. And by that I mean before we start assuming that the other is overrating/underrating the value of a coach to the team period, because my initial response was to ask you what parts of my stance lead you to believe I am overrating the coaching position.

I think we all have agreed that the lack of O&D coordinators for most NBA teams is a bad thing. For the sake of simplicity I am going to assume that not one team makes use of those two positions (mainly because 90%+ of NBA teams don't). I always combine the coach and the system together because the system, both offensively and defensively, is dictated by who the coach is. Currently, Woodson runs an offense mainly consisting of Wing-ISO and little else. From his own words of "the offense will work itself out" for the last five years, I don't even think he has a system, but instead he simply has a play. After that he assumes that the players will take advantage of any situation that blatantly presents itself. There are little to no inclusions of the pick and roll, no post game, no inside-out game, no set screening, no swings, no dribble-drive, nothing. Just that one play, over and over and over. Personally, I think this severely limits the potential of this team. The players we have in place are too athletic and talented to be wasted sitting around waiting for the focus of Woodson’s ISO to do something, fighting for scraps or hoping that if the ball makes it into their hands a can’t miss opportunity will present itself.

His defensive system consists of the same one-rule philosophy, which is to switch on every screen. It's mainly a man defense that always sets itself up for failure. He never allows for fighting through the screens and he never uses any zone elements. This is all from a guy who claims to be some kind of defensive guru. Now, I will admit that I am by no means a defensive specialty so there may be some things I am missing. I also know that defense has more to do with effort and desire than offense, so a lot of it comes down to the players’ ability.

So, part one of evaluating a coach is evaluating the system he brings to the table. I’ve easily listed many disadvantages Woodson’s system forces on our team, so I have to at least attempt to admit the positives. If nothing else, his system is very stable and consistent, which as I’ve stated before was exactly what this team needed for the first three years. It works great for a young team. It helps them learn structure and discipline within a given system while allowing their bodies and abilities to grow. As that happens, it is inevitable that you will see a steady increase in production from year to year as the team grows and that’s why I have always believed that the steady increase in wins wasn’t the sole byproduct of Woodson, but more because of the players steady growth. This system will get you to the playoffs because, as Larry as stated, the NBA is full of bad NBA teams and this system will beat a majority of those bad teams. However, it will not get you to the top level of the game because it is too predictable and easily manipulated. We saw that in full effect against Cleveland. Double the ISO and switch to our worst defender.

Jesse said...

Part2

Next in line is game management. This is somewhat two-part because it entails not only managing from game-to-game, but also within each game individually. Woodson is horrible at this as a whole, even though there have been brief lapses into intelligent thought from time to time. He never plays match-ups. It’s as if he does no research on our opponents before the week because he never takes advantage of match-ups that present themselves to us during the game. More times than not, if a team brings in a sub and we still have our first team out there, he decides to sub also instead of taking the quick advantage and trying to go on a run. Then, when we do get going on a run, he’ll call a timeout on a fast break negating an easy basket and killing our momentum. When the opposing team is taking advantage of his “switch on every screen” rule and forcing our worst defender on the floor to guard their best scorer, he does nothing. If a player sees this and tries to fight through the screen, he yells at them. If the opposing team is going on a quick run, he never calls a timeout to try and control the situation, and we end up down 15 in less than three minutes. He can’t manage and he can’t adjust.

Then there is player management. Sometimes it’s as if he has no clue what’s happening on the floor at all. Maybe he really doesn’t watch the game or maybe his assistants are freaking horribad and they are not letting him know what’s going on. Maybe they are and he just isn’t listening because he is the almighty head coach and they are merely peons. By this, I mean he never seems to know when players are lighting it up or building a brick wall. I’ve seen Josh Smith start a game on fire, have 12pts/5rbds/3blks/1stl in the 1st quarter and Woodson will sit him for the next 20 minutes. Horford will absolutely be dominating his opponent on the boards and putting up points, he’ll get two fouls and Woodson will bench him almost the rest of the game. I assume it’s because they were supposed to get the ball to whoever is the focus of his ISO, mainly JJ, but I’m sure his “two foul and you sit” rule is a big part of it. Speaking of which, he will bench guys who get two early fouls for the better part of two quarters, then they never get another one, or maybe one or two more. This kills their game. They are hot, sit for 24 minutes, and do nothing the rest of the game. It’s absurd.

His subbing patterns boggle the mind. He subs out guys that are hitting everything and leaves guys that are not having their best shooting night in for long stretches of times. The main reason for this is because of who those players are. If Smith or Horford are on fire, they get benched. If Bibby or JJ are bricking everything in sight, they get to stay. He has no idea how to manage these things and I firmly believe this has cost us many close wins. Also, I’m a huge Mario West fan, but facts are facts, and he has a time and place. That place is not coming in as the sixth man or before Acie or Gardner. Same with Solo. This could easily lead to yet another debate on player minutes, but I think we’ve all gone over how many minutes certain players may or may not deserve to prove if they are worthy of more minutes. The only thing I will say to that is that Woodson tends to think that certain players only deserve to play with the second team instead of giving them a chance to play with the first team and see how things go.

Jesse said...

Sorry, Part3

In conclusion, for me, a coach needs to have a solid system that he is willing to adapt to the players talents and strengths, and not the other way around. He needs to be able to manage the game as well as the players. And he needs to be able to adjust to changes not only from game-to-game, but also within the game. To me, this isn’t overrating anything, but instead simply what I think all coaches need to be able to do to take a team to the end-game. There are going to be coaches who do all of these things well, the few that some might call “elite”. There are going to be other coaches who can do a few of them well, or all of them okay. Then there are those coaches who do few to none of these things well. I think Woodson is of the latter group. Put enough talent in his system and it’s good enough beat lesser talented teams, but not good enough to beat teams with better talent and a better system.

I don’t think we need an “elite” level coach such as Jackson. I think we just need a coach with a much better system and knows how to use his players effectively and can adjust to what the opposing team is doing. I can’t imagine anyone thinking Josh Smith hanging around the wing shooting jumpers is a good system. Or that giving Horford less touches is a good thing when he could easily average a double/double is a solid line of thought.

Jesse said...

Goodness. Sorry about the hulking wall of text.

I just wanted to offer my full un-edited line of thinking, or reasoning, of what I felt was important when it comes to coaches. At first, I didn't want to make it about Woodson, but in the end I felt it helped to illustrate what I thought was needed by explaining what I think is wrong.

Hope that makes sense.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

tell us how you really feel, Jesse. :) I won't even attempt to hit any of those points. I've done that in spades over a full year.

I could do all that detail in other specific areas - particularly player development, but I think Jesse has done it for me. So, I'll just give you my main Woodson complaint. He's trying to win every battle (each game) without a plan to win the war (the title).

I don't blame him based on his lack of perceived job security, but I think that's the biggest issue. I don't see him using the season as building blocks to build the team into a contender. So, when I challenge the Acie Law is bad assumptions - it's not to say he couldn't be...it is to say - he's got to prove that on the court.

You prove whether or not Horford is a beast in the post by giving him the ball. You prove Josh to not be a shooter by benching him when he's shooting shots he's not good at. You trust your bench by giving Joe Johnson the rest he needs to be fresh in the postseason.

I can't tell you how many times I've heard him say - I have to get Joe some rest, then watch Joe play 45 minutes in games that weren't even that close. So, my point is - you gotta have a plan to win the war. If you know you'll need Teague this year by the end of the season - Teague has to play every game for at least 5-10 minutes with the first and second team to be functional by season's end. You can't jerk his minutes unless it's just plainly obvious that he isn't a NBA caliber player like say...Mario West (and as a Tech grad - it pains me to say that).

So, that's my main Woodson complaint. There are others, but that's my main one - the lack of a plan and an identity as a team is what bothers me. If we don't know that 5 years in, there's a problem.

thirdfalcon said...

First of all, it's much too complicated to say something like, there are x amount of levels of head coaches in the game. Every coach has strengths and weaknesses.

The one thing that any coach must have no matter what level you are on is the ability to get the players to listen to you and follow your game plan. If you don't have that it doesn't matter how good your system is, it won't work.

Most coaches don't have this ability, and the circumstances surrounding them end up hurting their cause. Things like the fact that most players make more money than the coach and can't really be fired, or that most GMs use coaches as a convenient scapegoat when things aren't going well.

Although several players have rebelled against Woodson at various times, at the end of the day the team follows his gameplan. That alone puts him above several of the coaches in the league even if it's not the best system.

There are some coaches who have both the system and the means to get their players to execute it. Those are the "elite" coaches I was referring too.

You guys seems to think that Woodson is so bad that we are operating from a level of zero from a coaching standpoint, and any reasonable person we cuould bring in would be an upgrade. My thing is that there is room to go down. So ask for a new coach all day, but be careful what you wish for.

The isolation plays do get old, and I'm sure their is something more optimal than the constant switching on screen and rolls. However I think our most skilled offensive players are guards, and we are pretty well suited for the Defense we run, it just needs to be tweaked.

I don't really think that Horford scoring more is a simple matter of giving him more touches, and Acie Law played twice as many minutes as Mario West, so I'm puzzled why people think he was below Greasy on the totem pole.

It's not like I think that he's some kind of great coach, it's just that I don't think he's a bad as people make him out to be.

rbubp said...

TF, they MOSTLY follow his gameplan, which is a huge difference. You know how they always talk about how they needed to "play harder" after a loss? Well, "play harder" doesn't just mean hitting the boards and going for steals, though it means that too; it means making tight cuts so LeBron can't step in the lane to steal Bibby's pass for the 15th time that night, passing the ball quickly to the right place, making the right defensive rotation off the ball, and all those little things that don't show up in the boxscore.

And the Hawks are pretty bad at that stuff, the little things. If they weren't they would not constantly talk about playing harder. In my personal opinion, not doing the little things is why Cleveland, a much more disciplined team, beat the living hell out of them. As we know I do not think Cleveland has more talent than the Hawks outside of LeBron; but in addition to the king they have major team discipline and a team identity.

Then there's all the talk of not having an "identity"--what do they do best--what do they do when they run into an oddity like Golden State or a team with a superstar? Do they get suckered into playing fast like GS?; do they change their game to fit playing the superstar or do they they fall back on what they do because they know it will force compromises from the other team? Do they play the other team's game?

To wit: the reason they got hammered by Miami those times was, in part, lack of identity. What do we as a team do, now that we are completely under siege, that we have utmost confidence that we can do and will actually work? Answer: They didn't know.

So, while I also think he's not the worst coach ever, close observation reveals he is severely limited. Larry's assessment is bang-on (and always has been, including the "he was the right guy at the time" part).

You all remember this year's dumbfounding quotes from Joe and Woody? Woody said he should have rested Joe more but he wanted him "to make the all-star game," for chrissakes; then later on Joe said that a lot of times Woody wants to take him out but Joe doesn't want to come out. Where is the coach here? Sit your butt on the bench, Johnson!

Two more: I have seen Smith in particular actively pout while on the floor by not rotating, not hustling up and down, not going after rebounds, not playing help defense. We've all seen it; but watch him all the time in a game: he does it A LOT. This past year he did it MORE THAN HE DIDN'T DO IT. I only once saw him get pulled for it, however!

Finally: Next time you hear of someone interested in Woody to head coach their team will have been the first. I think that's the most damning criticism of all.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

First, I'd like to say - thanks to Third Falcon for pushing this blog posting to the most comments made ever in Str8Talk history. Hopefully, we can keep adding people to the discussion b/c I think it's both enlightening and instructive.

While we've disagreed and butted heads on a few things, I do want to say that I want my points to be fully understood, so I'm taking that with me into future posts.

Now, with that to the stuff that matters - our Hawks...

TF - I can't believe I'm saying this, but rbubp said everything I could have said, but better. I think the one caveat that I want to add to it is - I understand your fear and that's to not go backward - I share that concern. I'm equally as concerned, though, with having our ceiling stop at 2nd round losses. And in my mind, lottery and 2nd round losses feel the same. I wasn't saying at the end of this season - well, getting swept feels better than being in the lottery.

I was saying - Coach Woodson isn't reaching our team to the point that they aren't even playing hard in each game. So, I agree with everything that rbubp and Jesse have said b/c they are SO right when it comes to the concept of the little things. We don't do them at all.

I'd add the element that those guys actually quit in the postseason whenever faced with adversity. That's why I never bought the injury argument. The Bulls and Rockets had both injury and talent deficiences, but they still played hard. Played hard and swept - ok. Just playing and making excuses and getting swept - HELL NO!

I agree that we wouldn't have defeated the Cavs last year, but if it was just about talent then a lot of teams would have been swept.

I can admit that some of that is the players and their heart, but a lot of that is also that the coach isn't reaching them to get them to their full potential. I can't tell you how SICK I was for flying to Miami in my full Hawks gear - only to watch the players and the coach perform less than their best. That just can't happen against Wade, 2 NBA players, and the Pee Wee All Stars.

The coach must set the tone for a team. Too often, Coach Woodson has put forth less than his best and on a few occasions even admitted as much in the postseason during two games. To know you didn't coach well in the biggest games of your career is unacceptable to me. If I'm Rick Sund, I'd have fired him on the spot for saying that publicly.

How do I as a player respect what you are asking me to do if I know you might not be doing your best? How am I to take criticism from you when you deserve criticism yourself?

rbubp said...

I want to clarify something regarding how the little things, playing harder, and the gameplan are all related: You never hear the Hawks talk about scheme, about how they lost because they didn't make the right adjustment or how they will try a new scheme next time. They always say "better effort" and "play harder." This is actually proof that they don't actually execute the gameplan--every time they lose it is because they knew they did not do the little things taht require constant focus and attention--EFFORT-- to even tell if the gameplan would actually work.

So Woody comes back with the same gameplan every night because, well, it would work--who knows any different?-- if they would only just "play harder." It's a cycle, starting from Woody not demanding the best effort and focus --by playing players who are not the best, leaving in players who are not playing well, and most of all, not taking out players who are dogging it.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

Not to pile on TF - THIS is why i say that listening to these press conferences and interviews matter to a blogger.. I'd challenge you to do that this year. Don't focus on the things you think are about giving away the company secrets and listen to the points that focus on this component of playing harder.

At a certain point, effort should be constant, so we can focus on which parts of the game plan work and don't work. I actually counted twice last year when Mike Woodson actually changed tactics in-game and made a difference. The sad thing is that it comes to my memory so quickly b/c I was so shocked that it happened. It was that unorthodox for Woodson to change a 'game plan'. The first was at Denver - Denver was kicking our ass by like 20 in the first half. In the second half, we came out and did a full court press for the rest of the game and lost by 1. I couldn't have been more proud of the Hawks and the coach for seeing that we weren't going to win with our current style.

The other one was at home vs. the Jazz. That's when he inserted Mario West in a non-end of half for 5 seconds role and actually rode his and Solo's effort (b/c they still aren't that good as basketball players) to energize the team to a victory. He saw that there was no energy early on and put them in the game and continued to play them in the first and second half. You could see their confidence in the second half when they didn't have to look over their shoulders for someone to take them out of the game.

I thought that was going to be a turning point for Woodson, but it just ended up being an anomaly. It's why I keep harping on Law and Horford and the like - players don't learn how to play the hardest position in the NBA in practice or on the bench. They learn by playing. I agree with rbubp with regard to having the coach always BE THE COACH. You have to know when to take a player out of the game (Joe for rest, Josh for shot selection, Flip for shot selection, Bibby for lack of defense, etc) and you have to know when to put a player in (Acie for learning, Zaza for rebounds, Solo and Mario for energy).

He also needs to realize that you can't hold fast to every rule. The ISO-Joe vs. the Clippers might be unstoppable, but vs. the Celtics - they know how to stop the IS0-Joe. If you need a victory and Joe has 2 fouls in 5 minutes, you can leave him in. Why? B/c Joe has the lowest foul rate of ANYONE in the NBA who plays the minutes he plays. I've watched Al and Josh and Joe sit in the first half, then play the second half and only have 3-4 fouls. Well, we would lose those games b/c the game was over by the time they returned to the game.

What sense does that make? Isn't it better to foul out with 3 minutes left in the game, but with your team STILL IN THE BALL GAME vs. having him playing, but down 15 with fouls to give?

This is why I don't think we can get worse and if we do, well - that's why you can always fire a coach. Keep hiring until you get it right, but no way should we wait for the movie we've all seen to keep getting played out with the same ending. That's the definition of insanity to me.

thirdfalcon said...

competitive people are never going to publicly admit that their approach or ability is flawed. They might think that, or discuss it internally, but they won't say that to the press unless things are so bad that it doesn't matter, or they are trying to motivate their teammates.

This is what I mean when I say that you guys spend to much time trying to analyze quotes that people with the team say. They aren't trying to send subliminal messages, and they certainly don't want to shed light into what they are doing and why they are doing it. 90% of it is misinformation.

I don't remember the specific quote you are talking about, but I would like to see it. I'm guessing that your inferring more from it than it actually says. I could be wrong, but given the track records involved I'm suspicious that you are not misinterpreting it.

I could go through point by point on all the things you offered for why Woodson isn't doing a good job, but I think you are probably right about most of them. I just know that a Cavs fan could write similar criticism of Mike Brown, or a Celtics fan of Doc Rivers (especially before he hired tibidau), or even a Bobcats fan about Larry Brown. Or any other NBA blogger could write about their coach.

thirdfalcon said...

I'm actually tempted to start a blog about quotes said by various Hawks (and maybe league wide) people and see how they are taken by the media, compared to what is actually said.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

I'm just going to simply say - you are completely and totally wrong about this point. Every good (emphasis on good) coach in the NBA says what they want their players to do publicly (and privately, I hope) or say when they haven't played well in specific terms to let their team know what they are expected to do.

Phil Jackson, Larry Brown (he was notoriously famous for picking on AI), Rick Adelman, Doc Rivers, Gregg Popovich (he was notoriously on Tony Parker publicly to stop shooting long jumpers in word and deed), Jerry Sloan ALL do this and they don't just pick and choose when to do it - they teach all year long. If you guys don't want to let me off the hook on being inconsistent, I certainly will focus in with laser like focus on you on this point about coaches. I stray away from absolutes in discussions like this, but on this one - I feel 1000% confident that you are WRONG on this one.

I don't spend a ton of time analyzing much more than the game I watch, but I do know that I got a lot of fodder out of listening the post game interview with the coach on Fox Sports. It taught me to value a coach who can watch us get killed on the boards, then says - our players will get better at rebounding or else we'll continue to lose. I'll play the guys who put forth the effort, then follow that up with sitting Josh's ass down if he puts up a 1 rebound effort after hearing and seeing that happen. That's what good coaches do. I watched the Lakers win by 14 against the Grizzlies and saw the press conference and watched Jackson RIP the Lakers for their effort (and they deserved it b/c the Grizz sucked). Give Woodson a 14 pt win vs. the Grizz and you'll hear how great they played. No matter that they are playing a terrible team and might have been close until the last 5 minutes of the game. I'm sorry, but that matters.

Our coach should be saying - hey, we should be putting that team away early and we'll keep working to do that b/c that effort will not cut it in the postseason.

So, again - you're WRONG about what I feel confident is an assumption. You can't have studied good NBA coaches and tell me that's your conclusion. I don't want to start a war on this, but this ain't Belichick trying to keep NFL teams from their secret sauce. The NBA isn't the same - too many games, too much tape, the game is too simple comparatively for you to make that assessment.

So, every blogger can't say that their coach doesn't even understand how to motivate the players to change the things that must be improved in order to get the best out of our team. I don't have ANY lack of confidence that there are coaches who do this well. Woodson isn't one of them.

B/c I know I'm right on this - I'm not going to find any quotes and doing any research - I'm asking you to do it since you already have admitted that you DON'T review this stuff. So, try it and then get back to me.

rbubp said...

TF, I'm not sure if these are the quotes you were referring to, but here they are either way.

Woodson on overusing JJ:
http://www.peachtreehoops.com/2009/2/9/753872/unless-i-have-lost-my-mind


Johnson on coach trying to take him out:

http://blogs.ajc.com/mark-bradley-blog/2009/05/12/johnson-needs-to-step-back-for-the-hawks-to-step-forward/?cxntlid=homepage_tab_newstab

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

In fact, TF - just go to the postseason videos if they are still there on NBA.com and listen to Woodson's press conferences and then the ones with the players.

It's just silly. They talked about how great we are when we RUN during the games we won, but only said - we didn't play with effort when we lost. In fact, Joe Johnson said in the postseason - we're at our best when we run. So, of course, in the next game - Mike Woodson was back to talking about our halfcourt offense prowess WHILE THE WORLD IS WATCHING OUR PUTRID HALF COURT OFFENSE.

That's not 90% misinformation - that's just lunancy to make me think that we're actually good at something that it's obvious we're not good at.

Not only that, then watching Joe admit - I'M TIRED. The next game, we're down by 30 and yet, Joe's playing in a game we're NOT going to win and oh, wait for it - he turns his ankle. So, yes - I definitely blame Mike Woodson for having his TIRED player on the floor in a game we're not going to win when he can let our bench get some playoff burn while resting our ADMITTEDLY tired (and to the naked eye even if he didn't admit it) star for a game we CAN win.

Again, I say - trying to win the battle, not understanding that we can lose a battle and win the war. Winning the war is always the most important goal. Anyway, I'd challenge you to do the research. Truly!!! You can go to www.hoopinionblog.com, peachtreehoops.com, etc - they like to post that stuff more than me.

I just get frustrated, so I stop, but they post the actual quotes - you can parse them as you wish.

Xavier said...

I think if Woody never had to speak with the media he would be fine with that. So his post game quotes don't register with me. The only time I will pay attention to a coach in the media is in response to a player or another coach. Now when a coach is mic'ed up during a game, that is more my cup a tea. And really are quotes to the media really important to the players and coaches? I bet what ever Woody says to the AJC or Phil says to the LA Times doesn't amount to a hill of beans to the players because the next day win or lose players will look at game tape w/ the coaches and discuss what went wrong and what went right.
Now it's apparent that you guys think Woody is lacking in offensive/defensive philosophy. But is it not the same offensive philoshpy that worked in Detroit. If I'm not mistaken Larry grinded it out on offense primarily isoing Billups.(And remember 2 things. People complained that their offense that almost won 2 championships was too predictable and when Larry left and Det. hired Flip, the offense was so much better, but at the sacrifice of their defense(which was exposed in the playoffs) and never made it back to the Finals since. So there is an instance in which the offense was held back for greater team success. Now I can't say the same as far as def. phil., (let me check that out) but I would imagine the philosphy is the same.
So in that regards, the concept of an iso heavy offense can be successful.

In regards to player management, yeah sure Woody can improve in this aspect. But it comes down to 2 things, JJ and Josh. Now Woody has to lighten the load on JJ because he is incapable of playing 39 minutes a game. Now one thing about that is even though Joe did play 39 mpg he was 27 and that is not or should not be uncommon for an all-star. Did LeBron ever cry about being fatigued? JJ surprised me when admitted it during the plaloffs.
But the biggest problem for the Hawks and Woody is that Josh is a basketcase. He is essentially Zach Randolph. Tell me one championship contender where the best player(well he should be) is so erratic when it comes to focus and concentration on the court. I honestly feel no matter who the coach is Josh will always act the same. And I think benching Josh is the worst thing Woody could do as opposed to openly challenging him. Bench him, I just feel Josh will shut down completely. And I think Woody has made it known publicly that Josh's game is not shooting 3's etc. And ATL I think that is where a Lindsey Hunter type player would be great for Woody and Josh.

And rbubp if Woody was to get fired tomorrow what has he done so wrong to not be a serious candidate to coach again as opposed to the last say 5 head coaches hired? which would be Eddie Jordan, Jay Triano, Paul Westphal, John Kuester, & Minnesota's next head coach.

rbubp said...

And rbubp if Woody was to get fired tomorrow what has he done so wrong to not be a serious candidate to coach again as opposed to the last say 5 head coaches hired?

You could be right, Xavier. I must say that I am curious to see. The NBA does have a history of re-hiring coaches that seem superficially much worse than Woody (like Mike Dunleavy--how does he keep getting a job?).

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

@Xavier, You'd be wrong to assume that players don't read or hear what is said to the media. You'd be right to assume that there are several more ways for the coach to communicate to the team, so I don't think one assumption has to usurp the other.

I've already made the point that Woodson's media relations are a mere tiny fraction of why I don't think he's the coach for the Hawks. What they do highlight to me is the lack of acumen he even has for the game and the players with respect to getting us a title to explain why things are the way they are. I'm not sure if you read Acie's blog or not, but several times - he has referenced the things said publicly about him as hope that Woodson would follow through with giving him a chance. It never happened. We don't know what happened behind closed doors, but I know that 3 times Woodson said he had to give Acie Law minutes to be successful. We all know that he never did that.

That is a small sample size, but I think it's instructive that if you go to the media and say - all we need to do is play harder and your team comes out and lays a complete egg. What does that say for your ability to motivate your team to play harder. These are things that were happening in the past two regular seasons consistently, so it's what I based my predictions that we'd get killed by the Cavs once the injury excuse crept in.

Why? B/c Woodson kept saying - well, we have all these injuries, but that's not an excuse. Well, why bring it up? B/c you are trying to make an excuse. I watched Del Negro and Adelman when they got excuses - they said we played our players all season to know that they have to step in and step up and that's what we expect them to do. Guess what - they stepped in and stepped up. Again, small sample size - doesn't work in all instances. I think though that what they said to the public was consistent with what the players did, so I am confident that behind closed doors - the same thing was said.

For the Hawks, I'm not sure what's being said behind closed doors b/c anything that I'd THINK would be said is either being said and ignored OR it's not being said. Either outcome is bad for the Hawks and bad for Woodson's ability to motivate the team. In all the locker room footage I've seen, I haven't seen anything that said - Lombardi speeches are happening. So, again - I wonder why you dismiss it when what's he's said is pretty damning. We don't have to debate whether it's the main thing to be concerned about - we agree it's not. It is instructive to me that if what you do say to the media is either a lie or flat out inconsistent with reality, then I have to wonder what else you would lie about to your players and what else is inconsistent with reality in terms of what you share, teach, focus on with the team.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

As for the two other pieces, I'm still puzzled by the fact that you will admit that the problems we're talking about with Woodson are problems, then try to come up with the player problem as if to offset it.

Is that your point? I'm trying to take small instruction from rbubp and TF in not assuming what the point is and asking for it. So, explain that. Either player management is a Woodson issue to address or it isn't. Maybe you think he needs a little improvement or at a lot. that would help me understand that before I make any big comments there.

I say that b/c Joe Johnson looked tired for half the season. I'd think a former NBA player would know that you have to limit the minutes of your star so he's fresh for the postseason. Every good coach does that for his star. LeBron doesn't have to cry about fatigue b/c he sits for a set amount of time each game. So does Kobe, so does Wade, so does the Celtics, so do most NBA stars. That's why it's puzzling that Woodson has played Joe the most minutes 3 years running. He admitted why he was doing it - b/c he needed him to get to an All Star game and to win games. Huh? I can call out SEVERAL games where we're up 20 and he's playing up until 2 minutes left in the game.

LeBron played the fewest 4th quarter minutes of any star last season b/c they won so much and so early that he sat many of those quarters. The Hawks had some similar opportunities, but Woodson doesn't sit his starters from games won until the 2 minute mark in the game no matter how big our lead. It's another reason I get irked by Woodson (again, not the big issue, but a part of the puzzle that makes me confident that the guy isn't good).

Final point - I will simply say that I'm not dinging any player, not Josh, not Marv, not Joe, not Acie, not anyone until I'm convinced he's being coached at all. I don't think Josh has been coached from youth league to now. I don't think he's a basketcase at all. He looks and acts like a player who hasn't been coached. Period. So, we expect him to do things that a player who has been coached to do. I have every confidence that in the hands of a Popovich and veteran leadership - that Josh is a superstar.

Anyway, I'll just close with - I'm not saying Woodson wouldn't get another job - he just wouldn't get a job where the expectation is a title. He can do the reclamation, start from scratch job - he's not a closer. That's where I am with him.

rbubp said...

When I first discovered the blogs about a year ago, I had been following the Hawks from afar for awhile. I got the AJC stuff and read boxscores daily. But I don't have ESPN or TNT (I'm anti-television) and I live in the midwest (got sent here from the ATL), so the blogs were a godsend. At the time I was pretty neutral on Woodson.

But reading the blogs and watching the games on NBA League Pass online changed my perspective. It wasn't really what Woodson or any of the bloggers said, but what I SAW on the games that convinced me of Woody's mediocrity.

I have to point out that I have been a basketball fan all my life but did not play above HS level. Reading the blogs and then watching the games taught me how to watch NBA basketball. I have learned how to look at it differently, and when I looked with these new, more attentive eyes I saw why the bloggers were so universally down on Woody.

I'm not going to make any assumptions about anybody's else's perspective or experiences. For me, watching the games in a more attentive, analytical way--and watching OFF the ball A LOT--has helped me learn what I'm looking at, and I my take on Woody now aligns with ATL's. I know I still don't know anywhere near what insiders/writers/good bloggers know. But I am thankful for learning what I didn't know and excited about what else is out there to gain.

I'll tell you right now who I'm confident I see the game better than: I can now take Mark Bradley off the analytical dribble. Go me! Still not sure about Sekou, but he seems limited by his AJC team concept to me. I'd love to see his thoughts outside the happy happy joy joy network.

rbubp said...

So I guess what I'm saying in all that is: Watch the games.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

@rbubp.

Agreed - I said a bunch of stuff about non-game issues I have with Woodson, but watching the games is the most important element. It's only my experience as a blogger that put me over the edge as it relates to trying to find perspective for the things I was seeing and nothing was matching up.

You see, I watched a lot of Lakers games a while back and trust me, when you see Phil do things - he'll tell you at some point why he's doing it. When people are saying - sit Fisher, or why is he playing Brown or Farmer during slumps, or why did he sit Kobe. Most of the time, it's very well aligned with his goal of winning a title. He sometimes risks losing games to prepare his team for a title.

Same for Popovich - I watch them and their interviews and games to understand why he'd sit his stars or sacrifice playoff seeding and he explains it. And it matches up with what you see - first, he wants his stars healthy and fresh for the postseason and second, it gives his bench much needed experience in order to be useful in the postseason. That stuff all makes sense regarding a postseason run and for his team and players' growth.

With Woodson, many of the things he does make little sense to my naked eye, so I go to interviews, box scores, and recaps as well as the post game press conferences to make sense of what didn't seem to make sense. That's why I think it matters what he says - media relations is part of the job that he fails at.

But it doesn't need to be dissected too much b/c there's much more in the game that you can see that makes little sense for this team. For that, I'm ready for him to go, but I'll repeat - the organization is doing him no favors by not re-signing him to an extension. I think that's the worst thing they can do for 2009-2010. Might not be the worst overall, but definitely not for this season.

The likelihood of players quitting for one season just went up a 3 notches.

rbubp said...

All the more justification for letting him go with an equal or lesser record, ATL. I think Sund is putting the true test on this year: It's all Woody's show now.

In your words, Sund is risking losing the battle that is 2009-10 in order to win the war of the 2-4 years after that with a very young--and signed--core. At least that's the explanation that makes sense to me...

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

Well, I won't argue with that line of the thinking. So, this isn't a rebuttal, but more of a contrast in risks. There's also the risk of having Woodson providing another year of not coaching Josh Smith, Al Horford, and Jeff Teague.

That just adds another layer for a new coach to undo. I'm not sure which is the best thing. What are the implications of that with trying to get a free agent (or Joe Johnson) to re-sign, getting Al Horford as a restricted free agent, getting Marvin back if he signs the QO, or anything else if Woodson fails as history dictates he will with regards to maximizing the Hawks playoff readiness.

That's my concern right now. We could end up creating an environment where we finally decide to trade Josh or some other piece without knowing whether it was the coach and not the player. That's already happened with Diaw and Law in my book. I don't want a bigger piece of the puzzle to be shown to have been Woodsonized vs. the player just being a bad apple.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

Go to www.peachtreehoops.com - there's a post for 7/22 on Woodson's player development that's an argument against that whole - the team gets better every year argument used to defend Mike Woodson.

Xavier said...

ATL in regards to player management I agree that Woody can improve(I won't say drastically) but how much can he improve when your second unit consists of Mario, Solo, Gardner, Morris, Law and Speedy. I'm excluding the obvious 3. His hands are tied in a sense with such a limited group of guys. Now I would hope Teague has what Law didn't have and one more big to help Woody.

And its funny when people compare Woody to say a Popovich or Phil. Woody has no close to a Timmy, Kobe, Shaq, or MJ. Everyone knows players like that makes coaching so much easier. I've read on this blog that Woody is not even an average or adequate coach. And ATL I don't know but if I'm not mistaken, Woody's team is above average after year 5 according to Fanhouse. But the main thing is Woody will be judged on his postseason success or failure. I think he has afforded that opportunity.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

@xavier

What I think is interesting is that you use the argument - 'he can do better at, BUT'. I'd love him to do better. First, you can't omit the obvious 3 b/c the obvious three are 60% of the second team. You only need to use more than 3 guards and Solo to relieve Joe and Al of some of the workload. That isn't even close to difficult.

Now, I think my litmus test for player management is that you have to give players a consistent opportunity to succeed and build confidence. That hasn't happened with any of those players you mentioned. On top of that, you're using third string players in some instances to make the point. You also mention those players as if you know what they can do when given consistent minutes, but you certainly don't know if Gardner, Morris, Law, Claxton, or Jones can do more than what they do (West is who he is - an energy guy). As an example, Solo actually played decent in the beginning of the season when he was given minutes in Josh's absence.

So, my point is - Mike hasn't even tried to find out what those guys have to offer. He doesn't turn to the bench to provide a spark in any instance. So, when injuries force him to do so - they look lost and it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. So, I completely disagree - his hands aren't tied with giving players a FEW minutes consistently. As I said, I'm certain that 15-20 mins of bench play won't retard the team's progress. In fact, I'm fairly sure it would enhance it.

If the Eddie Houses, Big Babys (who looked HORRIBLE last year), Aaron Brooks, Trevor (bench his whole career until this year) Ariza can turn into useful players - there's hope that others can be as well - you just have to give the chance. Those players looked just as bad as our bench until someone played them consistently.

That's the point - you THINK they are bad, but you don't know that b/c you haven't seen them enough to know that they are just bad. I play pick up ball and there are times when I play with a new group of guys and I look horrible - can't hit a shot and have no confidence in my game b/c I'm with guys I'm not familiar with. Well, three or four weeks later, with the same group of guys - I can look like Jason Kidd b/c I know them, believe in them - they in me and we click. Same thing applies here.

Anyway, I don't think having players changes whether or not you know how to coach a team. It may affect the title chances for your team, but when Larry Brown coaches a team - they get better and play better even if they have poor talent.. With their talent, they won't, but as I watch them - they are certainly a well coached team.

The Hawks are vastly more talented and don't look it. So, again - I stand tall on the fact that Woodson isn't a good coach for the purpose of winning a title. And if it helps, I'll use coaches that don't have those players - he's not better than Sloan, D'Antoni, Adelman, Larry Brown, Rivers, Karl, and McMillan. He's not an adequate coach for this team and there's still nothing you've said to support the fact that he is.