It's time for an offseason update on our beloved Atlanta Hawks...
When we first made an update about the Hawks' offseason, there were two new Hawks acquisitions of note - Jamal Crawford & Jeff Teague. At that time, we noted that the ability for the Hawks to prevent a fall from the 4th seed would reside in improving our talent base on both sides of the ball (most notably on the defensive side). We said we'd reserve judgement until August 1st. Well, it's August 5th and we still are relying on last year's team to fix the holes that were exposed down the stretch and in the playoffs last year.
Honestly, we can't find a reason to be optimistic about much so far. The coach (who Hawk Str8talk doesn't have a lot of confidence in) has not been extended a new contract. On one level, that's great - it means that the coach has as much to prove as anyone. Unfortunately, in the NBA world, that also comes with two downsides - the potential for a player to simply trying to get said coach fired and little motivation to groom Jeff Teague (our point guard of the future) with your future compensation on the line (and we've noted here that while we think that's best for the Hawks future - we realize that unless Teague plays lights out - it's not in Woodson's interest to play through Teague's mistakes and learning curve). We've noted many times that the Hawks need depth to keep this team fresh for the playoffs.
We signed an aging, no defense playing point guard in Bibby when there is seemingly a younger, defensive minded PG that could be had on the cheap who was more productive last season still available. We also signed Zaza Pachulia and we look like we will sign Marvin Williams (let's get that done already). To date, we have yet to sign anyone who would ever play in our 3 man C/PF rotation of Zaza, Al, and Josh and, if Acie Law is any indication, we aren't sure if Teague will see enough playing time to matter with regards to our PG/SG guard rotation of JJ, Bibby, and Crawford.
So, where does that leave us? With hoping that a backup shooting guard and backup rookie combo guard trumps the moves made by 8 of the 15 teams (we believe that we can beat the Pacers, Bucks, Nets, Knicks, and Bobcats). Nothing we've done should scare the Big 3 in the East, so that stands to leave a potential of 6 teams vying for home court advantage next year. In a year where a drafting of a big man like Blair, signing a Sessions for anything over $4M/yr could have brought him to Atlanta (even as a backup if we're convinced he was not ready to run the team) and a trade of Claxton / Law for a big man of some consequence, we stood essentially pat. No matter how folks have tried to slice it - I still haven't seen how offseason improvement of our current players (which is what I think all teams are counting on from their players) and two backup guards are going to improve this team. The only viable argument I can buy would be that the gap btw us and the rest of the East was so vast that even if they get better - we're still going to be in the 4th seed.
It seems like the front office's hope was that the gap we believed was between us and other teams will stay that way or that our young frontcourt got demonstrably better this offseason (and that we stay injury free and that Woodson learns how to sit Joe Johnson for about 5 more minutes a game and...oh, let's just stop here). Let it be said that we are still waiting for the move that makes us take a step forward in the areas we were lacking - like rebounding, perimeter defense, interior depth, toughness, and leadership. The first sign of that and maybe we'll turn our offseason frown upside down.
Hawks vs Raptors final score: Defense struggles as Atlanta falls to Toronto, 126-115 - The Atlanta Hawks played quite well offensively against a top-tier team in the Toronto Raptors, but the defense was lacking in route to a 126-115 defeat...
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