Draft - Hawks' Grade: C-.
We made no bones about our desire to select DeJuan Blair instead of a point guard that our coach would not spend the requisite time developing. Coach Woodson has not shown an aversion to playing young bigs, so with a weakness in the toughness/rebounding categories - it seemed a perfect fit for a 3-5 year window (assuming Blair's knees would provide value through his rookie contract). To date, it seems as though that desire would have been rewarded with above average rebounding and inside scoring to provide depth for a team devoid of back to the basket, rebounding specialists. That said, we believe we've seen enough in glimpses to determine that Jeff Teague was not a wasted draft pick. To date, it's simply not a draft pick that has been used as an asset to be developed as a useful tool in advancing the cause of the 2009-2010 Atlanta Hawks, which could come back to haunt the Hawks in the case of injury OR in the more likely case of needing a more prepared and useful starting PG option in 2010-2011 to continue the ascent of our fair Hawks. As for our forays with international players, uh - finding sleeper talent has never worked well, so we're not banking on our 2nd round draft pick ever being a rotation player, so we won't even bother with his name being printed here.
Trades - Hawks' Grade: A-.
Well, it's obvious that I was completely and totally off in questioning whether Jamal Crawford would be equal to Flip 1.0. No, Jamal is clearly Flip 2.0 in the sense that Flip is Window 95 and Jamal is Windows XP (basically the difference btw regular blue screen/system crashes vs. infrequent blue screen/system crashes). So, I will not question Rick Sund's ability to read the market and pick up players via trade or to sign useful players for league minimums (or close to that). The only question I'll make is whether David Andersen's ability to be a rotation player for the Houston Rockets is a testament to Rick Adelman's superior coaching or whether it was a missed opportunity to have a superior version of the 'Garbage Time Boys' (Jason Collins, Othello Hunter, Randolph Morris, or Mario West)
Free Agent Signings - Hawks' Grade: C+
Let's include all of the players with new contracts here - Mike Bibby, Marvin Williams, Zaza Pachulia, Joe Smith, Jason Collins. The Hawks are 30-16, so we could take the easy route and say - A+ all around, but since we are already seeing Bibby provide less value in year 1 than we anticipated - it stands to reason that unless Jeff Teague turns (or is turned loose, per some beliefs) into a starting point guard by opening night 2010 - the Hawks may be on the hook for a contract that won't provide the value it was constructed to do. We screamed for Ramon Sessions or Jarrett Jack (with Jack looking like the smartest pick for our organization right now) and are hoping that that decision doesn't harm our upward progression.
It's early but the same could be said for Marvin Williams. His stint as our starting small forward is not providing enough lockdown defense to make up for the regression in offensive/rebounding productivity necessary to justify his price tag. Short of a bringing a valuable piece to the Hawks in trade value, Marvin may not ever live up to his contract if the Hawks stay as presently constituted. On the bright side, for their price tag, Pachulia, Smith, and Collins are sure to be worth whatever they bring to the table. So, while there were lots of discussions about the Hawks depth and while on paper - it looks like that's true...we'll make a better determination on that come playoff time. We also would like to log the fact that we said that it was a testament to the Hawks that they had gotten better to the point that Mario West was not signed this season. Since he has since being signed for the remainder of the season, we shall see what his impact is for the remainder of the season.
Record - Hawks Grade: A-
Yes, we have lost twice at home to the Knicks and were blown out a few times to teams we should haven't had a problem with, but we have to also account for the fact that no one expected a sweep of the Celtics, road victories over Portland, Houston, etc, so let's just be honest and say - the Hawks are exceeding all reasonable expectations and for that - we have to give them a grade of A contrasted with our prediction that the range for wins was 44-52 with a prediction of 47. But that's why I don't gamble...I mean who knew the Wizards would implode, Pistons' entire team would get injured, AI would end up back in Philly, Memphis and Oklahoma City would have great seasons so far, etc. So, let's just revel in our position and hope that the relatively easier Feb/Mar/Apr will bring more wins at a 65% clip. Heady times I say...heady times!