Thursday, October 8, 2009

Hawks/Hornets - Preseason Game Recap

Preamble Ramble

Disclaimer: Nothing in this post should be taken to the bank because nothing you see in the preseason is real, so please just take that what we saw means nothing right now. And away...we go!

Before I do the game recap notes (can't do a full fledged game recap for this 'game') - let me say that this was in ALL my years of watching Hawks basketball years live...the first time I have been to a NBA preseason game. Now, if it weren't for my duty as a Hawks blogger to report on these things (next up, going to an open practice - big joy!), I would never do that again. The things I liked about the game were:

1. That the best parking area at Philips Arena was still there and still at recession friendly prices
2. That the will call setup is still intact and functions well.
3. That the crowd and ladies still are coming to the game wearing noteworthy outfits.
4. That everyone wants to live-tweet the games. Too many folks were itching to get out their tweets yesterday...interferes with the game tweet/blogging while trying to be the most insightful tweeter. We should all just take a position and tweet on that stuff. I nominate myself as the guy who comments on the dance team, in-game promotions, celeb sightings, and hot chick/clothing ensembles. Next...

Game Recap - Hawks 108, Hornet 102

Normally, I'd be giving out Str8 Butter Awards, Kudos, & Smackdowns, some Love/Hate & yes...a season prediction. Well, it's too early for all of that, so I will simply give you some notes from the game.

1. I'd like to say that overall there's not a single thing I take seriously from this game because the Hornets did not play in yesterday's game. Save Chris Paul - there wasn't a soul on that team that seriously looked like they came to play, which is understandable for the people who've made the team, but NOT for those looking for a spot in the rotation or on the team. Now, I don't know their contract situation in New Orleans, but if someone is fighting for a spot on that squad - I hope they were injured yesterday b/c I didn't see one iota of effort on that court. NONE!!!!
2. Forget the score - it wasn't close and it wasn't fun to watch.
3. Likes - Othello was working hard on the boards, seeing guards penetrating and dishing (somewhere Acie Law is putting pins in a Woodson doll), seeing that the Joe Johnson-Jsoh Smith alley oop is still in the playbook
4. Observations - You have to have more chairs on the bench for players since we haven't gotten to cutdowns yet. Those were some long benches. Also, I'm not sure if I saw any focus on Horford's low post game. Between him and Josh - seeing them on the blocks in the preseason would be nice at every juncture vs. more of the Joe Johnson iso (which looked to be in early season form, which means he's awesome before Woodson runs him into the ground by midseason). Finally, there were some beautiful ladies in the stands.
5. Dislikes - Everything was streamlined...the menus at the concession stands, the # of bars, the dance routines (though it WAS preseason - what must go was one young lady's Cappie Pondexter hairstyle (Google it!)), and minutes for the players (wait, put that minutes thing in the likes category)
6. I'd also like to see evidence of this tenacious defense that Sekou told he was seeing in practice.
7. Final Thought - let's just reserve a little judgment on Jeff Teague. Listen, no one wants to see Teague be successful for this team as point guard more than me. After the hose job done to Law, I'm still going to reserve judgment as to whether he even gets a full season in the rotation, but before folks start calling for Teague to be in the starting lineup - let's just put it in perspective..he played well, took the ball to the basket, dished, etc - all the things you want in a point guard, but that was mostly with the second team AND it was mostly against a team that didn't give a rat's ass about playing basketball.

Other Notes:

1. Crawford Trade is still not a winner to me until I see him perform better than Flip did last year and Ramon Sessions ends up sucking and DeJuan Blair isn't the next coming of Charles Barkley as a rebounder AND Acie Law doesn't become the equal of Jeff Teague in the rotation for the Warriors. Until all of that happens - let's quit saying it's a slam dunk for the Hawks. I want it to be, but it wouldn't be Str8Talk if we didn't set some parameters for fawning over a player who still hasn't done anything for this team.
2. Last note - I love Sekou Smith and think he's one of the best in the business, but I think he misses an opportunity to be honest when he mentions Mario West's energy without mentioning that Mario West is pretty awful when it comes to doing anything else basketball related. Smith doesn't have to put him under the bus, but if you're going to write about a preseason game and tout something - tout that he's great to root for, but the talent level has far surpassed our need for Mario West. I love Mario West as a GT alum who made himself into a bench filler in the NBA. It's very inspiring, but if the Hawks want to be taken seriously by me as a contender. He can't make this team, much less play any minutes this year. There was nothing that I saw in his time on the offensive side of the ball that can be made up for by his energy or defensive talents (i.e. he's not lights out enough on the defensive end to just go 4 on 5 on the other end). So, I'd love to see him get another chance on another NBA team or to see him start and develop an offensive game & lights out defense in the NBDL or overseas, but it just would be a shame to see someone who could possibly help us fill out our bench with a specialty talent like Juan Dixon (shooting) or Siler (space eater) or whatever left off the team because of an affinity for Mario's story and energy. Two years is enough...and I say that with love (oh, and with the fact that I started this with a disclaimer.)


Jesse said...

But if those guys make the team over Mario, a guy Woodson has no problem playing, and end up with more DNP's than total minutes, doesn't that kind of render the whole argument against Mario moot? I'd much rather watch Woodson play Mario for three minutes a game than see him not play someone with more talent all season.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

Very simple answer...if I never see Mario West play a significant minute for the Atlanta Hawks, I'll be a happy guy. So, if he doesn't play someone else and I have to see 3 more minutes of Marvin or Mo or whoever else is our energy/defense guy...I see that as a net positive!

I'd rather not tempt Woodson to play the guy without any basketball skill outside of energy and above average defense. That's the point here - Mario wouldn't sniff any other team in the top half of the NBA - it's time he doesn't sniff ours.

Jesse said...

I agree, but I guess my whole point with Mario boils down to if that's what one decides to point out then they are clearly nitpicking. There are far bigger problems that lead to far worse results than Mario playing less than 1min/g. I don't see how Mario effects the end game that much and thusly don't see the point in people continually degrading the guy, as if it's somehow his fault that he's playing for an NBA team, or that Woodson plays him when they might be better options.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

Here's the point - no one cares if Mario is playing in inconsequential games, but when we had injuries last year - Mario played in about 5-8 games for competitive purposes. During the playoffs, he got a little burn. The point I'm making is that it's not nitpicking if Woodson is force to play him when his skill level doesn't dictate it. I'm on record that he should NEVER touch the court before Acie Law IV. Period.

So, my point has zero to do with anything being Mario West. I think I said - I am ok with him having a NBA job, would like to see him in the NBDL and develop an offensive skill (like Bruce Bowen) and stick. I want that for him, but I don't want him to be on the Atlanta Hawks. I don't think a team fighting for a top 4 seed should consider him good enough to hold a roster spot. That's all...if injuries hit (like they have) and he's an option - it's my opinion that we're not serious about winning anything.

When we were 13-69, this wouldn't matter. Let 'em play, but now - I can't think of a team that has someone with as little skill as Mario has on the team, much less even an injury or two away from seeing the court. If you can think of someone, please enlighten me. So, in that context, it matters greatly to me that he doesn't make the team.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

oops, let me add two things - 1. I mean to say on that first sentence - Mario West's FAULT and in the last paragraph, I meant to say a team that's vying for a high seed and conference title...(not just any team - I'm sure there are teams that could have players worse than Mario West)...

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

final note - I'm not degrading the guy. This is Str8Talk..I have written about the great things that West brings to the table and how he can be used to some effect. I'm not and have not been in the biz of disrespecting him, but I've also watched him (and the long stint I saw in that preseason game, just highlighted it more) - he's just completely useless on the offensive end, and he's not so great at the defensive end to offset how bad he is offensively. So, when there are other players with a skill you can use in the playoffs (like a shooter or a guy who can rebound and defend a position) - he just needs to be cut. That's it...

thirdfalcon said...

The thing is, we have two roster spots open. One is going to be filled by a big man from the Siller, Sims, Hunter, Morris group, and Morris has the inside track because he has a contract already and theoretically has potential.

The other is going to be filled by someone from the Greasy, Dixon, Wilks, Robinson, Murry group. I honestly know nothing about Robinson or murry, and not much about Dixon and Wilks, But I know that Greasy has one thing that he is good at, and in a few situations he has value. I'm not sure I can say that about anyone else.

TL:DR, when your talking about a bunch of players that suck, why not pick the one that can help you 8 times a year over the ones that never help you?

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

I'm not even sure what that last comment means, but I'm just gonna just say that I don't consider anything that Mario West does helpful to a playoff caliber team. If we're playing high level b-ball against high level teams, then Mario West is useless to us.

We need the players who are outside of the rotation to have a skill that can be used to win basketball games. Mario West doesn't have one of those...simple as that for me!

thirdfalcon said...

What it means is that you can probably say the same thing about any of the guys that he is competing with. But at least we know Mario can amp up the energy level of the team, so on that level he has value.

I'm saying that situationaly he does have relative value.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

So we're together - I hear you...he has value to a NBA team. I just don't think he has value for this team at this stage.

And after watching Wilks, Robinson, Dixon, etc - they actually have a skill besides energy. Doesn't mean we're cutting LeBron type players to keep Mario, but I do think those players are simply better and let's just go with better. That's again, Mario has value, just not enough value to keep him at this stage for the Hawks.

Is it the end of the world if he makes the team? No. It's probably more symbolic to me of a fact that we truly (and I say this all the time - I like Mario, want Mario to be successful in life) need to supgrade our talent base. Having Mario on the team wouldn't be a step in that area in my opinion.

Jesse said...

No, no, I'm with you and your point and wasn't saying that you were degrading him, just that it happens a lot but for all the wrong reasons. A lot of people like to single Mario out and claim that he is a cause for this team not progressing or losing games when he plays. My only point is that when it gets to your 13th-15th roster spot, you really aren't gaining enough value to make much of a difference anyways, so continually bringing it up is moot.

I have to agree fully with thirdfalcon on this one. I would much rather have Mario and his "energy", no offense, and decent defense over someone with better offense, possibly worse defense, and possibly wouldn't pump up the other players the way Mario does. Fact is, Mario pumps his those guys with his energy, enthusiasm, and intensity, and having played competitive sports I can attest to joy of having the little guy make a big play for your team and it's cascading positive effects on the entire team. It's the Rudy effect, the underdog story, etc. Every team needs that one 'intangibles' guy, and Mario is ours.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

Understood - well, here's all I'll say...I completely understand the value of an energy guy and I'm simply saying that its effects have passed the point of usefulness for a contending team when balanced against having more skilled players who can provide a valuable skill. There isn't a contender that has an energy guy with such a lack of skills. He's a complete liability on the offensive end and I'll just repeat that his defense and energy doesn't make up for that fact.

If you read all my posts, I haven't spent any appreciable amt of time riding this fact about Mario and have even pushed Woodson to use him when the team is not playing its hardest as an example (a quick one, then get his ass back on the bench), but when he's playing more than that 1 minute - it's useless. Not only that this season his pay jumps to a little over $1M. Sorry, but that's too much to pay for Mario's energy and enthusiasm. He's played enough at this point that Woodson can harken the 2 years of West's play to make a point about energy or show it in video sessions for all I care.

So, again - this is really less about knocking Mario than it is with me saying - if you can guarantee me that Mario would get the minutes that say...Morris or Hunter had last year (occasionally not active, 95% DNPs, only playing in blowouts, not even seeing the floor unless it's a specific message being sent - i.e. no more of that sending him in to guard someone for 15 seconds), then fine - keep Mario and send him to the NBDL, but only if you don't think that in the event of injury that none of these other guys can provide a skill that can be singularly useful.

As a simple example, there are specialists who come in to just do that one thing, so in times where we are getting killed and need a bunch of 3pters or defense or rebounding or fouls to give - I'd rather have Juan Dixon shooting rather than Mario running up and down the court regardless of whether he's a defensive liability or not if we're down 15 and are forced to look to the deep bench for help. That's something I can see being used in big games or playoff games in limited spurts rather than Mario's energy. Mario's energy is useless vs. any contender.

thirdfalcon said...

I don't think you can say it's useless. The guy shows a lot of heart, he probably leads the league in it. I really don't see how that's less valuable than a failed retread like Dixon.

If we don't pick up Greasy, I hope it's for a Robinson or Miles. Two guys that we don't know anything about, and may be underrated as opposed to the vets that we already know for sure are worthless.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

Energy plus great talent is useful. Energy plus marginal talent is useful. Energy plus no discernable talent is useful. Only in the first two instances are they useful for a team striving to be a conference title contender.

So, I'm not changing my opinion on this one. I'm not trying to raise 13th and 14th men and it certainly doesn't merit many more comments, but I'm sorry but he is simply not a good basketball player. If he had something to match that energy, I'd wholeheartedly agree with keeping him. If we were worse than we are or if we were rebuilding - I'd want guys who just play hard, but at this stage - if he makes the team, that just says to me that our talent level isn't good enough.

I'm pretty confident that if you sent West to the NBDL - he wouldn't even start. THAT's how bad he is - you couldn't put him in an offensive set. I mean he wasn't in an offensive set at Ga. Tech - he didn't even start. So, I'm putting aside my personal love of his story for the good of the team. Shoot, if I was convinced that he'd treat him like Morris or Gardner last year, I'd say let him play if I could get him for the rookie minimum, but we can't so let's spend our money wisely. West isn't a wise use of our salary cap at this stage in the game.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

any minute that West is on the court that is taken away from Jeff Teague is a waste as far as I'm concerned.

Jesse said...

He wouldn't be getting Teague's minutes, he would be getting Evans, just like last year. And if you think his energy has no value, then you clearly haven't noticed his effect on the starters when he stopped Paul and Wade. Every single one of them got fired up which is more than Woodson can do. I'd much rather have West get an occasional stop and pump Josh Smith up for the next ten minutes of his time on court than a scrub like Dixon who inspires nothing and no one.

As for West's time at Tech, you are incorrect. I'll gladly pull his numbers for you if you'd like, but he did have more offensive numbers than he does in the NBA.

thirdfalcon said...

I just think it's funny that ATL would trade Bibby for Fisher because of leadership/intangibles. Yet he sees no role for an intangibles guy at the 13 roster spot. I mean really, does that make any sense? If you can't have a symbolic role with the last player on your team then where can you have it?

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

@Jesse, I've noticed his effect on the starters and guess what - there have been 2 games where I've seen his effect spur the rest of the team to play harder, not win games, but definitely play harder. So, the point I'm making is that - if his effect on the team is for 2 games against teams that weren't contenders, then is it really worth this amount of debate?

I'm not trying to sway you here (maybe you're ok with just giving away 2-3 roster spots), but I'm fairly solid in my belief that that energy isn't contagious and my belief is that it isn't contagious b/c those players realize that energy is all he has, so I think they are inspired by his story, but it hasn't changed our prospects any nor is it worth anything if you need him to do anything on the court for any appreciable amount of time.

I think you're CLEARLY exaggerating when you are saying 'when he shut down Paul and Wade' and just wrong for thinking that he's EVER pumped up Josh Smith. If that's the case, let's keep Acie Law b/c he actually did outplay and shut down Chris Paul for 15 minutes of the first game the Hawks vs. the Hornets in 2008.

Now, as for Ga. Tech, ok - if you want to be technical - YES, he scored more points in college than in the NBA. Who could argue that? In fact, I didn't. I said he wasn't an offensive option at Ga. Tech and that's 1000% true. I also said he wasn't a starter (and if you want to be TECHNICAL - then yes, he started for like 10 games during his junior year), which again is 1000% true. I'm sure if you pull his high school numbers - he scored more in high school than college. My point was - he wasn't that good at Tech. He wasn't a starter for the vast majority of his career and so, I'm just tired of talking about this cat who I said repeatedly - I like him, but he's just not good and we can spend our money better. Period. You guys are acting like West has ANY appreciable effect on our team's outlook and I'm simply saying no, he doesn't.

@TF, I think you've made a big leap in assuming that leadership/intangibles is the only reason I'd trade Bibby for Fisher. Fisher plays better D, has a 3pt shot, AND is a great leader with championships, so yes - I'd trade that for Bibby. I'd much rather have Teague learning how to play point guard from Fisher than Bibby. Moving on, we can differ on an energy guy - I'd rather my energy guy have a skill such as Varejao (rebs/def) that actually works against top level talent. So, that since he actually PLAYS - he can inspire the team from the court, not at practice with players who know he's never going to be better than them. I'd rather my energy guy be Joe Johnson so no one else has an excuse to not give energy. I'm happy for his 2 years, but honestly - I think you guys like to just argue for argument's sake. I mean 'are we really having a 18 comment point worrying about Mario West?' Really? Really? There's gotta be something better to worry about than whether he makes the team or not.

thirdfalcon said...

Yeah, you just wrote three times the words of me and Jesse combined in this thread because we like to argue.

Pot. Kettle. Black.

You make really strong statements about subjective thing dude, like...

"That's all...if injuries hit (like they have) and he's an option - it's my opinion that we're not serious about winning anything."

Sometimes I think you true identity is Kane West. That's a joke, but honestly it's too easy to not to take the bait sometimes.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

@TF, I didn't say that I don't like to argue. I said I think you like to argue for argument's sake. Because I don't think my comments about Mario West (whether you agree or not) require a vigorous guys could have said - hey, I like Mario and don't mind him being on the team and left it there, but these comments sound like you guys think it would be some sort of mistake if he doesn't make the team. Shoot, I miss Flip Murray, but I don't think we're going to lose seeding because he's not playing for us, so to think Mario West matters AT ALL to this team is what I'm baffled by.

So, you're right - I said a's a character flaw. I try to be clear to a fault. The funny thing is that you think it's a strong statement to make the assertion that if the Hawks are playing Mario West for any significant time based on injuries (or really any reason - such as Mike Woodson is playing him over the top 12 players on the team) that we have a shot at seriously winning anything this year.

Now, if you believe that, then let's stop talking now b/c your perception of Mario West's skill set is clearly out of sync with mine. And if I misreprented anything you said - just highlight that b/c I am at a loss for why this has gone this far. Cheers!

thirdfalcon said...

Your definitely not the first person to tell me that, or the second, or the third for that matter. I never really agreed with them, but I guess that just proves them right so I'll stfu about it.

But I don't think whoever wins the last Swingman/Guard spot is going to play much at all. So I would prefer a guy that challenges the rest of the team to bring up their effort level.

One interesting guy to think about, however is Mike Wilks. He's a vet that's seen it all, works hard and has survived by being a good soldier despite not really having NBA caliber talent. That might be the kind of guy that management wants the players to be inspired by. At the very least he would fit in with process of bringing in professional vets that has been a theme this offseason.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

@TF, ok - that's a fair point about Mario and it's one I agree with. If you've read my blogs, I've said frequently that if players show that they don't want to play, then I want Woodson playing Mario to show them, but that was his first 2 seasons.

So, I'm only saying that I think that the energy piece is a little lost on this team if 1) they don't see that playing hard is part of the title winning process and 2) the person with the energy isn't good at anything other than being an energy guy. If he had ANY discernable skill (yes, I'm saying his defense isn't good enough to call it a skill - i.e. I'd be shutting up if he could shut down the top players at his position), this wouldn't be a discussion. That's all, but I think timing and opportunity and where we are as a team are part of why I said what I said vs. a simplistic Mario sucks, so cut him statement.

That said, I think Wilks is intriguing as well. If he has any leadership/locker room impact, I certainly would take him over Mario West. Anything that is a positive influence on Jeff Teague would be fantastic. It's why I like Lindsay Hunter on the Bulls - he still can play servicable D, can come in and run the offense in a pinch, but mainly he's just a great locker room presence and mentor for Derrick Rose...if we can find someone like that to help Teague continue to develop I think that's a major win.

Jesse said...

Larry, I've supported you a lot here, but really, sometimes you take things further than what they really are. Neither TF nor I have made any statements indicating that we believe Mario West is going to outright win games for the Hawks, or that he should indeed play considerable minutes over the other players. Our only point is that he does have a certain amount of value and that you clearly don't see it. Time and time again, the issue of Josh Smith's drive has been discussed; some games he comes to play and some he seems disinterested. Mario's value is not only just his energy, but that combined with his story. The big time players know what he's had to overcome to make it this far so when he gets on the court and puts a lot of effort into his limited ability and stops Wade or Parker (as highlighted by the clip on Peachtreehoops), that pumps the others up.

No, if the Hawks were to not keep Mario it would not keep them from winning games, you are right, but no one is disputing that. What boggles me is that you are getting so caught up in a roster spot that Woodson rarely gets to anyways. Remember our whole discussion regarding the depth (or lack thereof) of the rotation that Woodson uses. The fact that you are concerned with someone that would probably fill the last spot on the roster is baffling as Woodson routinely only uses about 8-10. Sure, West get's some garbage time and he get's a few minutes because of injuries, but I am highly doubtful that those minutes are of such a detriment to the team as you propose.

So, I'm not trying to argue with you about Mario's lack of an offensive skillset, but I will argue that he does have some value. You can make claims that these guys are professional and should be playing at full energy at all times, but that's rarely the case. Sports have been an emotional investment of humans since they were invented and as such, players and teams rise and fall on those waves of emotion. To claim otherwise is being naive.

If anyone is arguing for arguments sake here, it would be you for attempting to argue something that no one else is debating. And let's remember who brought up Mario in his post to begin with.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

For the purpose of ending this, I'll just say that we'll agree to disagree on both what each other is saying (though I think understand and follow your point, so we're talking more in the grey than the black/white).

Simply put - I said on about 10 different occasions that Mario West has value. My only argument is that our talent level has risen above the value Mario West brings to my team IF we are serious about doing more than what we did last year. That's all I'm saying. And I'm ok if you disagree with THAT statement. The rest of the stuff you have noted isn't part of my opus here - I think I took great pains to say that Mario has value and that I'd like him to succeed, just on someone else's team. So, I didn't question the inspiration or story for 2 years, but now I'm saying the gig is up and his inspiration can endureth in the Hawks annals. We need some talent to match that energy. That's it...

And I think if you read my last few posts - I said I wasn't really losing sleep over this no matter what happened, so I think we can settle with you think he should make the team and I don't. And to be clear, I am a little afraid that Mike will keep sending Mario out there on the court in non-garbage time situations. If I got assurances that that's not going to happen - it might make me feel better about it (though not really changing my overall point of view on this).

Yes, we need energy guys - I think we need a new energy guy. That's all, so no one argued or ignored any other points about the wave of emotion or motivations, etc (uh, can we share in this 'arguing points no one is talking about'?). So, no stress guys - trust me, it's not that serious. I've admitted as much. Cheers!