It's ALMOST time for the NBA season and, by extension, the Hawk Str8Talk (HS8T) Season Preview. While we haven't gotten it all together, there is lots of news that we feel like will shape what ultimately will become our season preview and our season prediction. Here's what we have today:
- The Merger - Before we talk about the news - THIS JUST IN...The Vent and HS8T will be having a Blog Date during opening week where we will see just how two blogs can watch the same game next to each other and come to the same or completely different impressions. We're not sure how this will date will end (we're taking bets on the over/under - set early as 2nd base). As much as we love our Hawks Blogosphere brethren and sistren, we think this is something that shouldn't be missed and is meant to make Hoopinion, THHB, and Peachtree Hoops jealous. It will be a DATE to remember. One where we'll define what a game recap is, so that we can determine whether my guess of less than 20 game recaps from The Vent in 2008-2009 is accurate [Note: For those who read CC's blog - what do you think - the over or the under? Let us know in the comments.]
- The Roster - Yes, the roster has been finalized. With the final cuts of Garrett Siler, Courtney Sims, and hometown favorite Mario West, we have a final roster of
PGs (Bibby, Teague), SGs (Johnson, Crawford), SF (Williams, Evans), PF (O. Smith*, J Smith, Hunter), C (Horford, Pachulia, Collins, Morris).
- Disease Prevention - Good vibes abound at HS8T HQ every time we see Jeff Teague get significant minutes, but we caution everyone from thinking that he can't catch the AL4 Disease like it's the H1N1. If you all recall, Acie Law IV got significant minutes in the preseason during his rookie season and did well (look it up), but an injury and some lost confidence later and he's a Golden State Warrior. You'd think with only 4 guards on the team - there's no way this could happen, but when seemingly healthy people are dying from H1N1 - we can't get too confident that AL4 can't be caught especially when the carrier insect is still buzzing on the sidelines.
- Quote This - Let's hope that quotes like this don't extinguish those good vibes. This one from Woodson regarding Evans' role on the team makes us think when will (after all these years) Mike Woodson figure out a good method for dispensing minutes...here's the quote: "He fits in without a doubt," Woodson said. "I don't know where all the minutes are going to come from. And as a coach I have to figure that out. But it's like I told these guys last year, if you're committed to winning, it's what you do with the minutes you get that makes us a complete team. It's about winning games. If you're doing your job the right way, whatever it is that night, it should help us win games." We at HS8T would say - sure, that's true if you don't play me every 10 games and expect me to perform as though I've actually been playing regularly and know my role on the basketball court.
- Defensive Position - Throughout the offseason, HS8T was defending its position that contrary to popular belief we didn't improve the areas that win championships most - defense and rebounding (well, we also talked about our lack of coaching, toughness, and leadership). And while we stand by that statement - we will say that we like the additions so far. We'll withhold the word love until we see Teague or Crawford play defense, we see Osh Smith actually play defense and rebound and not shoot J's. So, the main defensive areas we wanted addressed were a move from the switch every screen defensive philosophy and an increased desire to rebound the basketball. Now, having Horford (as a center) and Bibby on the court prevents us from being an elite rebounding basketball team (not to mention letting the preseason rebounding beast who goes by the name of DeJaun Blair - dare we say..Rookie of the Year candidate and steal of the draft, DeJaun Blair), but we are encouraged by the decision to not bring back Mario West in lieu of big men such as Hunter, Morris, and Collins. As we've mentioned in this space before, we love Mario's energy but at this stage in our evolution as a team - we need talent to go with energy. We can't see giving away Hunter, Collins, or Morris's defense/low post presence/fouls in the post to help Horford against the bigger players in the league for Mario's energy. The added benefit may be that this may actually allow us to see what Horford can do at the PF position.
- Changing Views - We have been critical of this past offseason, but it should be noted that we are still optimistic about the Hawks' prospects this year. Yes, we think a better team could have been constructed this offseason, but let's not be confused - THIS is a playoff basketball team. Problem is - there are 16 of those, which is half the league, so that's not saying much. Not sure about anything else without seeing the improvements in live action that are possible with Osh, Marvin, and Al or the talents of our new 2nd string backcourt or whether our new pieces reinvigorate the coaching talents of Mike Woodson.
So, next week, we'll publish our Season Preview and Prediction. As with anything Hawks, we'll give it to you straight as we see it REGARDLESS of our desire for everything that the Hawks attempt ends up golden. There were too many arguments this offseason about hypotheticals, and now, it's time for the actuals to take place to see where we were wrong (and we hope we're wrong in ways that are positive for the Hawks) and where we were right (again, in the ways that are positive for the Hawks OR in other words - that Crawford will be a defensive beast, Blair ends up sharing time with Law with the Warriors NBDL team and Ramon Sessions ends up third string behind Jonny Flynn and a yet to be flown to the US - Ricky Rubio). Yes, it's time for Hawks basketball...jump on board with our game recaps, Hawks community updates, ticket discounts, and much more...
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