Let me get the items off my head, then try to wrap this up into something resembling a reasonable blog post.
- Hiring Coach Drew was the wrong move and it can't be fixed without firing him. - OR him exposing the frauds on this team. Yes, I'm repeating something I said when he was hired. As I said then, it really has very little to do with whether or not Coach Drew is a good coach or not, tactically, but his locker game needs to go from mediocre to great fast. His schemes, tactics, and motivational abilities could be questioned, but they won't be by me. The locker room needs a completely NEW voice with new assistants, new style, new schemes, new punishments, new rewards, new workout regime, new everything. Seriously, this deserves a 'hide yo wife, hide yo kids' Youtube clip. Kris, MC, Coco, Bret...what say you?
- Signing Jason Collins, Etan Thomas, and Josh Powell were the wrong moves and it can't be fixed unless you stop playing them and they spend their time changing this team's culture. - That's all I have to say about that, but we also need to look into showcasing players. The Knicks did it with Nate Robinson last season, then traded him. Yes, I'm talking about you..Jamal Crawford, Jeff Teague, Marvin Williams, & Joe Johnson. Of course, Hoopinion makes a great case for the fact that there's probably no one who really wants those guys, but the point being - if Rick Sund holds any sway and if you can give the coach a guarantee that you won't blame him for the losses, then it's time to just change up and give these guys carte blanche to put up numbers and then, try like heck to trade these guys. Mike Bibby too...there's gotta be a team that needs a savvy vet who makes 3s. Simply put, I liked the Hawks more when they were 13-69 and the young boys were playing their hearts out than now when I know we have talent, but have no idea that effort & heart has to be consistent to go along with it.
- The Hawks have yet to obtain a heart - The reason Utah fans love their team (aside from the fact that they are the only game in town) is because no matter what - Jerry Sloan requires toughness and heart. They may not have the talent, but those boys will ALWAYS play. They may be down by 20 pts, but it's because they were outPLAYED. I can accept about 10 games where a team does not play well and depending on the talent of that team - you may get blown out. But at no point having a run vs your 'rival' (note: I now believe the Celtics have made their point clear - the Hawks are not a rival of the Celtics.) is completely unacceptable. In fact, if I'm Coach Drew - I'd send YouTube clips of The Wiz where they introduced the Tin Man.
- Jeff Teague is the key to a championship - I'll keep saying it. If you don't start Teague, flush this version of the Hawks down the drain. Now, you may find that Teague is wholly unable to raise to the level of starting point guard in this league. If that's true, here's what's also true. Rick Sund can't evaluate talent. This coaching staff either lied about all the talent he possessed for the past 2 offseasons OR can't develop point guards, which means - major changes need to happen. And it all starts with starting Jeff Teague...learning what he can do the rest of the year as the starting point guard (a real one, not the version that brings the ball up and gives it to Joe or Jamal immediately) will reveal what steps need to be unearthed to move this franchise forward.
- Hawks fans aren't fooled - I was at the arena last night and I think the Hawks organization (among many things) misjudged just how intelligent Hawks fans are. Yes, there are several people who wondered why I believed we would take a step backwards this season. Well, I'm not saying we've gone backwards, but I am saying that we are stuck in mud as a team. The amount of growth that our players can make is close to being tapped out. Short of giving minutes to Jordan Crawford and Jeff Teague, our players are who they are and the chemistry is what it is (unless of course, you get a new coach and new system). And so for all the barbs this town takes for being apathetic about the team (some of which is all the way fair), it's hard to muster up money in this economy when you know that your team didn't show up in the past 2 years during the postseason and you determine that the coach and 3 bums and a 3rd string shooting guard are the answers to the question "How do we get better?" So, am I surprised that there are few sellouts and enthusiasm in the building this year? Absolutely not. People were 100% more excited last year because they believed that we could be BETTER than last year. Now that we've seen what Jamal, Collins, & company can do - we understand that we needed MORE this offseason. No team that isn't trying for more lottery balls does nothing in an offseason where they were swept and thinks, yeah - we're going to be better than the teams WHO GO ADD PIECES to the teams already better than yours. Fans aren't that idiotic, ASG, and I'm sure by the lack of energy at the Celtics game that even the most casual fan is up on it. Basically, the gig is up. Expect poor fan support this year and by extension - expect a pretty average home record this season.
- We have a leadership problem - Yes, I'm sure this is no surprise to anyone, but here's the glaring example of how it has been manifested. It's been said by a few that it's not very instructive to watch pre- and post- game comments or to see what is said in the media about your team. And in some cases, that's absolutely correct, but in 3 years of blogging about the Hawks - I'm still waiting on the organization to have laser like focus on the SPECIFIC issues that face the team in the micro and macro senses and then do something about it. Prime example - we've heard repeatedly when games like the Celtics game happen. Al, Josh, Joe, Coach Woody and now Coach Drew tell you how bad it is and that they have no answer. Rarely does that "how bad it is" comment come with the accountability in action. So, a coaching action when something like that would be - sit all my starters in the first 5 minutes of the Celtic game. A playing action would be - here's where I decided to PLAY my way through the issue and then, counsel other players to do the same. I've yet to hear someone call out Bibby and Crawford for their defensive struggles, yet some kind of way Jeff Teague doesn't get to play garbage time minutes and Jordan Crawford does. Josh Powell does. And where's Etan Thomas? Doesn't he have a poem on leadership we can use right about now? And let's keep it real - we're past time for players to be called out. I'm ready for the Coach Drew press conference where he says - I expect Joe Johnson to play like the highest paid player this offseason and if he doesn't - we'll be playing Jordan Crawford. Phil Jackson told Kobe 2 seasons ago that if he couldn't starting making shots he should sit. Read that last sentence and then, go back and see who won the title that season.
- No further judgments can be made until the 2nd round of the playoffs - And at this rate, we probably won't be there to participate in them.