I'm back for a limited time only to drop in and drop dime in what I'm going to call - the HS8T Honesty Corner. I've been loathe to say much over the past 2 months because I was seeing all the negative repercussions of the Hawks' actions manifest themselves and didn't want to be Dave Downer or face the wrath of those who hate when I'm right about something, plus it's only so many times you can say the same thing post after post. If you are one of those haters, you might want to go to the following blogs to find posts that may wax poetic about every crevice of the Hawks game experience (good and bad), so to those folks - head on over to the AJC, Hoopinion, or Peachtree Hoops.
The Honesty Corner's 5 Truths
Note: Before you read any of this, I've sworn myself to always blame the Atlanta Spirit Group first before I make any other critiques, so if you see me blame management, the coach, and the players - I blame the OWNERSHIP FIRST. Ok, carry on...
Truth 1. The Hawks drop to 7th.
Yes, the Hawks are now in 7th in the pecking order of teams who have the capability of winning the Eastern Conference title in the next 3-5 years. Sure, the Hawks are almost guaranteed to be the 4th or 5th (we think they'll be 5th) seed, but we'd be doing tremendously to make the 2nd round this season and so, throwing this year out - it pains me to say that the Knicks and Nets now join the C's, Heat, Bulls, and Magic as teams who are more likely to put together a team that can win the Eastern Conference. Lots of holes for those teams to fill, but I'd rather start with defensively challenged Melo and Amare or Deron and Brook than our leadership/ownership challenged Hawks bunch. Since the Hawks have yet to acquire or attempt to develop ANY player that makes the Hawks a championship contender since drafting Al Horford - there's no reason to believe that it's going to happen any time soon.
Truth 2. It should have been Thibodeau.
There was a time this offseason when I made the call for a white guy to coach the Hawks. It was tongue in cheek, but kinda serious too. I had serious reservations (outlined here) about Larry Drew and he's done absolutely nothing to convince me that he's anything more than the type of coach you hire because a) he's cheap or b) you want a coach to be patient with young talent before you hire the real coach to win the title. If this sounds like Mike Woodson, then yes - you've read my mind. Only the problem is - we're not a young team and we're ready to make the next leap. Soooooo, we're stuck with a coach who was friends with the players and has been loathe to make the moves necessary to expose the Hawks to short term losses in exchange for long term gain (i.e. playing Teague and Crawford or using Marvin off the bench exclusively or playing the best defensive players when you NEED defense). For all of the tough talk I've heard from Drew, I'm still waiting for him to SEND the message. Messages are sent with lineup changes, with minutes being pulled. It starts no matter who your best players are. The reason Gregg Popovich's Spurs do so well is because he will sit Tim Duncan if he jacks up a defensive rotation. The fact that Josh Smith doesn't find pine for ill advised 3 point shots is all you have to say about Larry Drew. (Remember short term loss for long term gain...it matters). Oh and save me the offense has changed argument - this is just Iso 2.0 with some extra wrinkles and more Josh jump shots.
Truth 3. It's time to prepare for the offseason of 2012.
So, the biggest offseason in NBA history passes and we sign a player who isn't one of its very best to the biggest contract of said offseason. We let every draft and midseason trade deadline go by without adding any useful pieces. With this as the backdrop, there's little reason to believe that things will change now or ever with ASG and Rick Sund at the helm, but that doesn't mean that it shouldn't be said - this team as constructed will NOT make a title run in the East, so it's time to dump the zeroes and get some heroes and those heroes will be front and center come 2012. That's right - I'm saying that it's time to start blowing this team up. Who might go? Dump (in order) Crawford, Bibby, Williams, Teague, Johnson, Evans, and yes...Josh Smith. I hate to say it, but my favorite player is now dump worthy. We need to position ourselves to trade and sign for Chris Paul or Deron Williams. We need to talk to Utah TODAY and see if they want to get rid of Al Jefferson or Paul Milsap, so we can pair them up with Al Horford and just start over. Of course, you'd say - I don't want to go back to the 15 win days. Well, neither do I, but that's how it works in the NBA - you have to get awful to get awesome or you have to be EXTREMELY BOLD. Maybe the collective bargaining agreement changes all of that, but our financial commitments will have us incapable of making any moves for the next 3 years unless we turn into DUMP CITY. So, sorry y'all - it's time. Any talk of anything else is akin to the US gov't talking about how we are trying to balance the budget and deficit by cutting taxes and cutting spending with the things that only affect like 12% of the budget.
Truth 4. The Hawks still have no leaders.
I said this for about 3 years. No one has true hardcore leadership skills on this team. And yes, Al Horford is on that list too. Now, I admire Al's heart and skill, but sorta like the folks who touted Rick Sund as the greatest thing to hit Atlanta after that Jamal Crawford trade - Al gets a lot of credit for maturity and confusing that with leadership. It ain't leadership if they ain't changing. I'd rather he go prima donna at this stage and say he's not playing center, that he wants to be a focal point of the offense, and for the team to get on his back. Oh wait - he probably shouldn't say that, but there needs to be a concerted effort to create a soft mutiny on this team. Blackboards need to smash, players need to be called out, coach needs to get stung a bit. These lightly veiled comments in public need to become heavily veiled. I mean who loses by 43 at home. Who says they are elite and loses by 24 without ONE run to the Lakers. Who does that? A team with no leadership. A team that doesn't respect the coach or themselves.
Truth 5. Jump Shooting Teams don't win titles.
Frankly, I'm not sure why folks get excited about the Hawks. Look, I've been saying for years that the Hawks have enough talent to win 60% of their games because over 60% of the games you play will be against teams that suck. The Hawks only have to win about 4-5 games versus good teams to win 50 games, so this seeding and 50 win stuff is fool's gold. You can't win titles with average defense and jump shooting. And that's what we do...
Bonus Truth: Jeff Teague isn't the answer and he STILL should be starting.
It's probably a good time to reiterate that I predicted that the Hawks would finish 6th in the conference and lose in the 1st round, so I'm already wrong about where we'll end up unless the Knicks catch some serious fire, but let's look at the upside for why we should HOPE that that happens. If not, ownership may still harbor false notions that we can get better internally. The key problem for the Hawks hasn't been that we aren't willing to spend, but that we aren't willing to draft and sign good players (read: not Collins, Thomas, Powell, Wilkins) and then DEVELOP THEM. So, it's been obvious for 2 seasons that Bibby couldn't take us past the 2nd round, so why are we scared to start Jeff Teague? Look Acie Law 2.0 is not ready to carry us to a EC title this year, but you know a little secret - (whispering) neither is Mike Bibby. Guess who is younger and has more upside. Yep, I thought so. This team needs to know if he CAN be a contributor with starter minutes and starters around him. How good would you be as a point guard if you always had to pass to Mo Evans and Damien Wilkins. And to be clear, trading for spare parts like Kirk Hinrich won't help you. Start Teague NOW.
That concludes this week's Truths. See you next week when we break down why Mo Evans needs to go bald again.
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