Friday, March 25, 2011

Things That Make You Go Hmmmm

With apologies to Arsenio Hall, it's time to put a long finger in the air on a few things in Hawks land to see if these things make you go hmmmm too.

1. Is Marvin Williams better as a reserve?

We've been so devoid of positives that it's been lost that when Marvin Williams was coming off the bench - he was pretty effective. Not #2 pick in the draft effective, but more aggressive offensively. It's as if he got that inner dog that Coach Drew is always looking for. 

2. What's the bigger story? Joe Johnson's season of proving that he was only worth about half of the $120M he received this offseason OR the untold story for why Jeff Teague hasn't played much of this season

For all the currency the blog world gets out of Jeff Teague, the downward spiral of this team was paying Joe Johnson this past offseason. It's not Joe's fault he's not worth that money. You simply can't pay top dollar for a player who is a complimentary player who isn't a leader on the team, community, or the league.  No one goes to a game to watch Joe Johnson and so on many levels - it made no sense.  If the ceiling with him is second round playoff exit, then you can't justify the expenditure.  A sign and trade on the order of the Carmelo Anthony trade (well, obviously a few levels below that) would have been more prudent and heads need to roll because of the way it will hamstring the organization for the next few years.  

That said, the JUICIER story is what Jeff Teague has done to Larry Drew.  It's painful obvious to any objective observer that it's not even about basketball play that has Teague on the bench at this stage.  The popular thought last year and for part of this one was that Bibby was simply better and that the young PG needed to watch and get some seasoning.  Well, we've taken many shots for our position that Teague should have been starting from the All Star game last season until now (or he proved through consistent PT that he was woefully unprepared to be the guy for the future), but the recent DNPs just prove the point that it's not even about basketball. I wouldn't be surprised at this stage if Teague beat Bibby out in camp and Drew just wanted to play the veteran.  Maybe there's a deal between Drew and Bibby.  Maybe Teague called Drew Jr a punk for leaving UNC.  I don't know, but there's an unreported story here for why Teague isn't playing.  So, unless you are totally discounting defense (the half of the game everyone conveniently omits when stumping for Bibby over Teague over the past calendar year), there is no conceivable reason you can give us for why Jeff Teague is collecting DNPs like he's Pape Sy.

3. Speaking of which, will we ever see Pape Sy suit up for the Hawks?

For Sund's sake, he better. To think that Landry Fields could have been a Hawk or some other guys that we could actually use just sticks in my craw.  And so, ONE of these projects needs to hit the floor and why not the guy we bought out and pulled out of the D League to sit on our bench. I don't care who it is, but it's a lot of draft picks catching splinter time. We haven't seen draft picks hit the floor for the Hawks since the Billy Knight era...ponder that for a minute

4. While we're talking about Billy Knight, if rebuilding ensues, shouldn't we consider him?

For all his inability to find a point guard, I'm not sure if you guys remember the Hawks were a salary capped aging team that couldn't get past the second round (sound familiar) before Billy Knight came to town.  He got rid of Rasheed Wallace, Alan Henderson, Antoine Walker, etc when their contracts weren't the most friendly for trading.  He built a stockpile of picks and cap space.  You can question his use of some of those, but not all of them.  Unlike Sund, Knight has had some home runs on his resume (Josh Smith at 18 is a home run).  Now, we might need to bring in someone to ensure we don't give up extra draft picks when doing sign and trades or when the point guard evaluation is going on, but simply put - shouldn't we long for the days when Billy Knight was at the helm.  (That speaks as much to Sund as it does to the shameful GM legacy of the franchise).

5. If Jamal gets re-signed, shouldn't we check Larry Drew for a large deposit of funds?  

Seriously, the only thing that makes sense for why Jamal has such strong allegiance from the coach in the face of bad offense and awful defense is that he's trying to get him a new contract and re-signed to the Hawks. Even if it gets him fired...and to that we say - is there a deal under the table in case that happens?  If I'm Coach Drew, I absolutely am saying - "look, Jamal - if you're here with a phat contract and I get fired for not playing Teague at the point....YOU OWE ME! You do realize my contract ain't even fully guaranteed, so yeah - me and Jr. are gonna see you and my money better be in small bills."  Can't this really be what's happening?  This is plausible, right?  Tell MC and Ken S to get on the stick and figure this out...I'm only slightly playing.

Those are the things that make me say hmmmmm...have a great weekend Hawks fans (and HOPEFULLY 2 wins vs. the Nets and Cavs unless, of course, losses get Drew and Sund fired on Monday).

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Honesty Corner's 5 Truths: Vol. 4

Let's start this Honesty Corner off with a shout out to the greatness that's Atlanta weather.  It was so awesome that I quickly forgot how disgusting the Atlanta Hawks played vs. the Miami Heat (or maybe that was the special sauce I was sipping that caused my memory loss).  Unfortunately, not much is awesome in Hawks land these days and so, it stands that the Corner must be written, but before I do so - you can read this blog or this one and see the progress we've made so far this year. As always read the disclaimer and then, let's get to it...

Disclaimer: As always, all criticisms come after blaming the Atlanta Spirit Group first, management second, and then coaches and players last.  Those criticisms come through the prism of winning championships (or the things that result in championship team building).

Truth 1. Larry Drew Has No Clue.

Not only does it rhyme, but it's become more clear that it's true. Take the 20 minutes out of your day to listen to this audio and tell me that you're dealing with someone who actually believes what he's saying. Listen, this is not specific to Larry Drew because Mike Woodson had the same problem, but anytime you are asking more questions at the END of the season about YOUR team than you were at the beginning of the season - that's a coaching problem.  The Hawks have not been better at the end of the season than they were at the beginning since 2007 and so, it stands to believe that the coaching philosophy is being tuned out and that the program being offered is not being bought into.  Let's discuss the ways that our coach has no clue.
  • Jeff Teague's player development (or lack thereof) - This has been discussed ad nauseum and is simply a carryover from the Mike Woodson era, but what's worse - it has cost us our Jamal Crawford replacement and any other additional help by way of a 1st round pick. Bottom line, I won't mince words here. Jeff Teague will never be an effective player for the Atlanta Hawks under Larry Drew. Drew doesn't trust him. It's obvious - let's just dispense with the pretense that anything else is true. And I wouldn't put this at the top of the list if he wasn't OUTRIGHT LYING TO US ABOUT THIS.
  • Roster Balance - I've been hollering from the top of Stone Mountain about roster balance for 3 years now.  Marvin Williams should have been coming off the bench with Jamal Crawford at the beginning of LAST season.  It's a lot better for the balance of the starting and bench players to have Teague, Johnson, Smith, Horford, and Wilkins/Evans, so you have talent (and this extends to defense as well) coming off the bench.  There's a reason that Ginobili came off the bench for much of his career - it's because the roster works BETTER that way.  Too bad, Coach Drew hasn't figured that out yet.
  • Damien Wilkins - When a guy you signed off the scrap heap is the ONLY player you can claim is neck and neck with Al Horford as the players who have improved from last year to this one, you can't be doing a great job at coaching 'em up or motivating them.  On top of that, he shines as the example that if you give him consistent minutes - a player may show himself worthy of more. Unfortunately, Jeff Teague and Zaza Pachulia are not getting that chance despite being at worst 2 of your top 8 players.
  • Mental Toughness - Coach Drew has been on the staff for over 6 years (repeat that 10 times) and we still are talking about having mental toughness issues.  This is new??!? At game 70, we're still talking about this. Yep, this is a culture problem and the fact that you haven't changed it means that you were the wrong coach.
  • Leadership - How many players' only meetings are you allowed to have a year before you realize that they aren't working?  My PO meetings count is at 5 for the year. The PO means that what the coach is saying is not helping, so we the players need to address it ourselves. In my days of working toward championships (from high school to intramurals), the max on PO meetings is 2 per year before you just realize that your team as constructed is what it is.  The Hawks are what they are.  Average defense. Average offense. Deficient in leadership, heart, and toughness, but talented enough to overcome their deficiencies vs. bad basketball teams.  Sorry ASG,  you need new people.

Truth 2.Al Horford is following the Hawks lead.

I know that the love affair with Al Horford is strong, but he won't be the player he needs to be for this franchise until he stops crying about what's happening and simply does something about it on the floor.  Get in a player's face.  Demand the ball in the post.  Call out the best players, the coach, the management, but do something to show that you are actually a leader.  So far, he's just shown that he's a warrior and that's great, but it shouldn't be confused with leadership.  You're only a leader if they follow.  Not to mention, he's turned into a jump shooter along with the rest of the team.  Looks like he's falling back to the mean (i.e. the rest of the Hawks) and not ascending to the extreme and dragging the team with him.

Truth 3. First Round Sweep would be a blessing.

I know that most fans would cringe at the sight of another playoff slaughter, but let's look at the bright side.  Maybe losing money leads to selling the franchise, canning the coach, and looking for a new GM and players.  Yes, all of these things need to happen to move this franchise forward and so, while it would be embarrassing - this is what this team needs to realize that major changes need to be made. Can you say Orlando averaging 20pt victories in 2011 otra vez?  I can.

Truth 4. Rick Sund is stealing money.

I just want to reiterate that the best moves of his Hawks career have been to a) trade for a limited and expensive Jamal Crawford  (yes, I consider a player who doesn't play half of the court - limited) and b) to sign Damian Wilkins.  That's it. No other moves have been worthy of anything (save signing Josh Smith and Al Horford to reasonable contracts).  To not have a plan for beefing up our roster or the flexibility to position the roster for last summer or ...the summer of 2012 (hint, hint). It's just laughable.  No draft picks and no more upside on the roster (no, Jeff Teague doesn't qualify) and I'll be the guy to say it - Rick Sund is about to go the way of Billy Knight and Mike Woodson, which is from a nice little NBA job to no other team ever wanting them to be a part of another NBA franchise ever. In an old boy's network, that's extremely hard to accomplish.  Which leads me to...

Truth 5. There is no more upside on this roster.

I'd be remiss if I didn't discuss my arguments in 2009 and 2010 about Marvin needing to go to the bench for roster balance and Jeff Teague needing to start in 2010 (yes, here's the blog war with Peachtree Hoops last year and the fact that Bibby was traded and that we got swept just like I said we would in 2010 vindicates my entire premise. Check that exchange out here and here and here.), but it bears repeating.  There is no 'core' to believe in anymore and there isn't a hot shot on the bench to look to for growth. Jeff Teague has no trust in the organization and the other players, Pape Sy and formerly Jordan Crawford (of the 'I'm averaging more points than Jamal Crawford in less minutes' Crawfords) have Elmer's Glue on their bench seats. So, how do you get better?  Where does better come from? It's not from maybe the most tenured starting 5 in the NBA. We've seen what they can do and the answer equals regression to the point that they could get swept out of the playoffs for the 3rd consecutive year.  That can't bode well for the Hawks sales team come this offseason.

Bonus Truth. The Start to DNP Strategy = Dumbest. Move. Ever.

Yes, in all my 30 years of watching NBA basketball and 25+ years of studying Hawks basketball, I have never, ever, ever, ever seen a team garner any level of success where they start a player (oh, say...Jeff Teague or Jason Collins) and find them with DNPs unless 2 things have happened - 1) they were insubordinate or 2) the ownership/management made the call down to the coach and said - get so and so off the court OR get so and so into the game and if that's at the expense of 2nd so and be it.  So, I'm just sayin' until I hear that one of those things has occurred - Larry Drew's starting of Jason Collins vs. certain lineups, but not playing him against almost anyone else and his ability to start Jeff Teague vs. the Portland Trailblazers (a playoff team) and not play him at ALL vs. the Detroit Pistons is the DUMBEST coaching decision I've ever seen. Seriously. There simply is no way a player can be consistent or believe in a coach who can start him and DNP him in the same week, particularly if said coach waxes poetic about how he has/is always in his corner.  

Note: It still boggles the mind that Jason Collins (our 3rd best center by far) can start over Horford and Pachulia when either are healthy, but if he's good enough to start a game, then why is he unworthy of PT during any game he doesn't start.  It also boggles the mind that our best defensive guard is not needed to defend in every game.

And with that note, that's this week's 5 Truths....agree or disagree if you must, but if it's the Honesty Corner, then it can't be lies.  See you in the comments...

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

There goes one of next week's truths

Damn you MC for being such an on point beat writer and blogger...I had this truth queue'd up for next week's 5 Truths

Y'all enjoy it - it's the revelation that they are ALL jump shooters.

I'm sick...

Hawks/Laker Truths

I'm on this truthiness kick, so I figured I'd say a few things about tonight's Lakers game.

1. Coach Drew is in over his head.  I just got through listening to the press conference, but it was not ever close past the first 10 minutes of the game.  The Lakers dominated us and didn't really break a sweat to win vs. our team at home.  Here's some of the quotes - "I thought we were right there."  "We ran out of gas." "We tried to match up big last time, but we lost some of our offense, so we went with our regular lineup to give us some offense." "If there was a bright side to it...we competed, we were right there, but that's not satisfactory".  The 'we thought it was like a road game, but that's no excuse'.  He said we competed hard and we were right there three times.  What game was he watching that I wasn't?  THIS is why the guys and the city aren't behind you. You are trying to sell us something that isn't backed up by what our eyes are watching.

2. I'm not sure how I've missed this, but we have turned into a complete drive and kick jump shooting team.  I'm not sure I've ever seen an NBA team drive and look for a jump shot more than the Hawks. Maybe the Suns, Warriors, or the Magic, but those teams had some of the most deadly shooters in the game to do it with...but even then - I recall seeing those guys back cut and make layups and score in transition in ways the Hawks wish they could.  Bottom line, a half court drive and kick team has never been successful in NBA history to my knowledge.  Why would we think that we could start that trend?

3. It also dawned on me that there are really only two players on the team that don't count on their jump shots as their main offensive attribute. Those folks are Jeff Teague and Zaza Pachulia.  What two players are having the worst time in getting consistent minutes from the coach?  You do the math....

And that's all I got...yep, the Lakers are better, were gonna be better, but it's still a shame that we didn't even compete.  And uh, how did old Jordan Crawford do in his 20 minutes tonight?  What...20pts..summamabit..

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Honesty Corner's 5 Truths: Vol. 3

It's no time for fake rhymes, so let's get into this week's 5 Truths...

Disclaimer: As always, all criticisms come after blaming the Atlanta Spirit Group first, management second, and then coaches and players.  Those criticisms come through the prism of winning championships (or the things that result in championship team building).

Truth 1.  The Hawks Are Only Winning if Charlie Sheen Is Keeping Score.

Sorry to use the most overused example of insanity at the moment, but listening to the Hawks coaches and players these days is akin to listening to Charlie Sheen's version of winning.  In Charlie Sheen's world, getting fired from your highest paid perch for a good (not great) show, losing custody of your kids, and not being aware of your own addictions to drugs and sex equates to Tiger Blood, Adonis DNA and uh..Bi-WINNING!!!  In Hawks land, being elite (words uttered by our very own GM Rick Sund) equates to paying the highest salary for a good (not great) player, winning more games than the last 5 years, having a good road record, having 2 All Stars, and being young enough to sell the impression that we can still get better even if said youth has been simmering for 4-5 years in the crock pot. 

You can use all the platitudes and pontifications regarding what ails the Hawks, but it's really simple. The team has had no leadership for over 4-5 years to the point that the guys don't even know where to start. They don't know how to fix their issues.  The elite teams ALL have slumps, issues, lulls. Most are able to easily identify the problem before they fix it and then go about the process of addressing said problems (the Spurs, Lakers, Celtics, and for the sake of not knowing ...Bulls and Heat are teams I'm referring to here).  The Hawks have sung the same song for 3 years without one solution.  So, when the media says Joe - what's the problem and he says 'I wish I knew'. Donald Trump should pop out and say 'you're fired'.  Same for Al, same for Joe, same for Jamal.  These guys know what the problem is, but are too cowardly to say publicly what I've known for 3 years.  It's why Coach Drew, no matter what his strategic strengths could ever have been, should never have been hired.  The Hawks problems are as much mental as they are physical makeup.  Lack of toughness, lack of basketball IQ, and lack of leadership means you can only be a first or second round casualty.  It doesn't help if your GM never brings in talent (hey, I wonder if that Landry Fields fellow would have been worth selecting with that second draft pick or if a Leon Powe would have been worth signing instead of say...oh, Josh Powell) or if your coach can't stand up to the players or if the players simply ...oh nevermind. 

Truth 2. Kirk Hinrich, welcome to Planet Jump Shot (cuz that's where the shots are).

I hate actually being right about this, but I've been saying for 3 years (there goes that 3 years again) that we are a jump shooting team and that's it.  We can wax poetic about wanting to get our best players (who happen to be our center and power forward) the ball on the inside, but have you ever wondered why they are always on the perimeter taking shots?  Because that's where the shots are.  Seems like there was this sense that Larry Drew was going to change the offense and to his credit, the names of the plays and the way we got the jump shots (even with more spacing) did change, but the end result...just more jump shots.  I've watched Kirk Hinrich and you can even see his frustration with the fact that all the players head outside to get the shots that are harder to take and make.  Why? Because that's where the shots for the Hawks are.  We shoot jumpers.  When we make them, we're a top 8 team.  When we miss them, we're a top 16 team.  Kirk, you're not getting guys to go inside to get the ball because they know where the shots are on this team.  OUTSIDE 18ft.  Period, point blank.  Doing anything else is only going to get your blood pressure high or a spot behind Jeff Teague.  Pick your poison.

Truth 3. The Atlanta Hawks wish they had Miami Heat problems.

I said it when they were 9-8 and I'll say it again.  The Heat will be fine.  They may not win a title this season, but their management will do everything possible to fix whatever ails the Heat come this postseason (be it coaching, players, health, wives, jersey color,...).  The Hawks, on the other hand, will blame something on their demise - they won't call out their lack of playmakers, their lack of defensive talent, their lack of leadership, their average coaching, their complete and utter inability to manage their finances/draft picks to mine talent, or something simple like an injury.  And as a result, they won't be fine because they won't fix the problem.  The problem is - if Marvin Williams is your starting small forward or Horford is your starting center or Josh Smith (no matter how successful) is shooting outside 15 feet more than twice a game or Joe Johnson is the highest paid player in the league, then you are (sorry Charlie Sheen) tri-losing...wait, quad-losing.  I guess that should be quint-losing if I use the bench and the lack of depth as just another example.  Bottom line, year 1 is not the time to declare the Heat's problems to be dire.  They did the heavy lifting - next year, they can be judged.  The Hawks in year 6 - we can go ahead and say it...the war has been lost. 

Truth 4. The Hawks can't win with Josh Smith and can't win without him.

This is probably going to be my most painful truth ever.  And I've buried it down here, so that maybe I can possibly come back and say it was all a lie when Josh ascends to great heights as an All-NBA power forward on the way to an Atlanta Hawks ECF run in 2011-2012, but this is me talking about truths, so I just have to get it out.  My favorite Hawk (and the guy I'm on record as saying is our most talented player), Josh Smith, has been ruined.  He's never been coached - not in high school, not in AAU, not by Mike Woodson, and now, not by Larry Drew. So, it stands to reason that he'll never be given the tutelage by someone he respects to simply cut out all the garbage in his game because he doesn't think it's garbage.  I'm sure that those of you who say - hey, it's worth the turnovers on the break and the missed jump shots to get a push from your PF in transition and some 3s from your 4 spot and with all that yeoman defensive work, who cares?  Well, if you want a championship squad, I care. I think of all of the post moves he could have if he wasn't chucking up 500 jumpers a day so he can hit 33% in his best years.  Think of all the alley oops he could catch if he found the point guard and ran like the wind every single fast break.  Think of all the leadership he could be doling out if he spent his time talking to his teammates instead of woofing to the refs and his coaches.  Bottom line, Josh Smith at age 25 is ruined. He's never gonna be who he could be and he certainly won't be who we need him to be in order to win a championship. And the thing that hurts most is that - on a nightly basis, without him - we just can't win as presently constituted.  On this team, his worth is inflated to the point that it makes him seem more necessary than he is. This painful chapter will probably continue until we get the gonads to trade him for...Jordan Crawford and a 2nd rounder. Sigh....

Truth 5.  Consistency Starts With the Coach

Coach Drew, you wanna know why your bench is inconsistent - because YOU are inconsistent. I don't know a NBA championship coach who is inconsistent.  They believe what they believe wins titles and either the players get on board or they don't. Which brings us to the Hawks lack of player development along the bench.  There's not a player on the team outside of the starting 5 and Jamal Crawford who know what to expect from you, Coach Drew.  It doesn't take a guy having to play in the NBA to understand that your confidence is built from stability and the Hawks bench is anything but stable. When your 7th best player (Jeff Teague) can go anywhere from a DNP to 15 minutes on the court on any given day, you got trust issues.  When your best backup post player (Zaza) goes from a consistent 15 MPG to DNPs inexplicably, you got trust issues.  You want these players to go through a brick wall for you, then you need to stick with them through thick and thin. I'd actually be in your corner if herky jerky nature extended to the ENTIRE team, but no matter how many 3s with 20 seconds on the shot clock Josh Smith takes - he's playing his 35+ minutes. And if that's the case, then give your bench the same courtesy and see if some consistency comes with it.  

Bonus Truth:  The Home Crowd Complaints.

As an quasi-Atlanta native, this must continue to be repeated.  Listen, Atlanta is overrun with folks from all over the country, largely places like LA, Boston, and NYC who don't get to see their teams but once or twice a year.  These people come from places where the teams are institutions and have had some level of success that has entrenched the fan-dom so deep that it seeps from their veins.  That's not ATL.  We're still a very young sports town.  There's no Atlanta Hawks fans that are at granddad age.  There's no evil eye and shaming of the family name for not growing up an Atlanta sports fan.  And there's little success to look at and say - that's when I caught the fever.  And then that does happen (i.e. Nique, Deion) - we mysteriously let them get outta town for ...(what did we get again for Deion?) Why do I tell you this?  Because people continue to move to our town and wonder why there aren't diehard Hawks fans buying all the seats and shouting down the people from these cities that are so awesome that they left them to enjoy our wasteland called Atlanta...the city with all this terrible weather and exorbitantly priced housing.  Trust me, the reason we suck as a sports city is because our OWNERS just have little to no idea of how to run sports organizations.  Only Arthur Blank has been savvy enough to tap into what means most to Atlantans and he's been paid off handsomely in return.  The Braves, Thrashers, and Hawks have not been that fortunate and until that luck turns around - you'll have folks from every team in the league coming in and shouting about how great their team is.  And why should we care when we give away first round picks for Kirk Hinrich? So, pipe down Mr. and Mrs. Why Does It Feel Like Madison Square Garden In Here - when (wait, if) we get a real owner that will subside real quick...see that Boston/Hawks playoff series a few years ago for confirmation, ya hear!

And that's the triple truth, Ruth...

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

This Week's 5 Truths

Last week's 5 Truths had so many page views that we had to bring it back.  The people have SPOKEN.  So, let's get to it.

As always, all criticisms come after blaming the Atlanta Spirit Group first, management second, and then coaches and players.  Those criticisms come through the prism of winning championships (or the things that result in championship team building).

Truth 1.  The Hawks Trade Was A Net Negative

So, since everyone wants to hedge their bets on this trade of Bibby, Evans, Jo. Crawford, and a first round pick for a moderately above average point guard and a below average post player - let me be the most clear about what this trade means.  In a nutshell, it's simply further proof that the Hawks organization either is financially motivated in the most inept way possible OR it's the most clear evidence that our scouting dept is the worst in the NBA. It's really indefensible to trade the things you need to upgrade your team.  I'm not sure why the writers and fans are not in full blown panic over this trade.  While other teams are adding depth or cornerstones to their future growth, the Hawks do NEITHER.  Yes, Hinrich for Bibby is an upgrade, but it's not a seed or playoff changer by any measure.  It doesn't save you money, it doesn't prepare you for the summer of '12, it doesn't inspire confidence that Jamal Crawford will leave town for a player who can score and not be scored upon at will, and it mortgages your future in absolute terms (unless Pape Sy and Ceyk are the future for this team).  So, in young people's parlance, WHO DOES THAT?  Yep, the Hawks do that. Oh, did I mention that we showed Zaza that we don't believe in him at the same time?  It is a business, but if you are going to conduct it - at least get rid of him vs. having it fall through and have to deal with how to get your best backup post presence to believe that you believe in him.

Truth 2. Buyouts show that the Hawks don't buy in.

Well, another round of bolstering the team depth - whether to fill a need or to buy insurance against injuries - go by without the Hawks addressing their biggest issues.  Competent post presence to help Horford and Smith. Help at small forward. Leadership. Toughness. None of those are going to be addressed by our top 8 players.  So, why not get a player who wants to help a team get over the top?  And what better team than one with open roster spots and space in the rotation (unless Armstrong, Collier, Thomas, Powell, and D. Wilkins are getting in the way of that)?  The only explanation is that we don't spend money wisely OR that we are viewing the title contenders as making trades and acquisitions because they are scared of the Hawks and their firepower. Choose one.

Truth 3. Teague is proving what I already knew to be true.

Basically, in 3 games, Jeff Teague has proven what many of us already knew to be true.  That's that - at worst, he's a worthy backup point guard who can at the very least defend well enough to prevent the sieve like defense on tap when Crawford and Bibby were in the game and at best, he's your future point guard.  Sure, he needs seasoning in the ways of running a team and having the confidence to determine when to take his shot and get others theirs (that's, of course, hoping he can make his shot), but to be clear - nothing has happened over the past 2 years other than show that Teague's CONFIDENCE is what's been sorely lacking, not his ability.  There's not a player in the league that could be jerked around in terms of playing time while watching other players held to a different standard and do much better. Never playing with starters, never playing in critical situations, never being trusted to make a difference in winning and losing. That will destroy any player's spirit, confidence, and impact.  If there's any major criticism of the Drew era, it should be a former point guard's inability to see that and to coach him up appropriately to make a difference for this season.

Truth 4. Defense wins championships

Lots of complaining in the first 3 truths, but this one isn't.  Bottom line, we are damn happy to see the Hawks defending. There are other issues inhibiting the Hawks from winning titles (see opening salvo for review), but it certainly is comforting to see the Hawks respond to the trade by doing more to defend.  It's by no means perfect, but in spurts - it is a sight to behold. (Baby steps, baby steps)

Truth 5.  The West Coast Trip Confirms It

Check out this article, then read this truth.  It's nothing we haven't already discussed with regards to our leadership, but it stinks to high heaven to have the coach and the players lulled into this sense that this road trip was OK in any way.  Sure, I'm probably being harsh considering 2 weeks on the road and a trade that changes the team dynamics, but if you're trying to convince me that winning vs. the Pistons, Warriors, and Blazers is an acceptable road trip for a team that hopes to make noise in the playoffs - consider that a mission failed. Being dominated by the Lakers without a semblance of fight and losing in short order to the Knicks and Nuggets are not signs of promise.  The language of this team still reaks of mediocrity acceptance and so, queue up the excuses we're bound to hear come May after our first round loss.

Bonus Truth:  The injury excuse won't fly.

We hope Josh Smith doesn't have a serious injury.  We hope Kirk gets well soon.  We trust that the rest of the team (the backs of Horford, Williams, and Crawford, Joe's elbow, etc) stays in great shape, but even if we don't - the injury excuse doesn't fly anymore.  The fact that we're 7-8 deep and then, have 5 NBDL level players on the roster after that is the fault of the organization and it needs to be dealt with accordingly.  The 'we're still young and are growing as a core' has been obliterated.  Thank the Nets, Knicks, and Heat for that...

And that's the triple truth, Ruth...