Monday, November 19, 2012

Honesty Corner's 5 Truths - Season 2, Vol. 2


So, we are three weeks in and it's time for another dose of Truth - Str8Talk style, so let's go...

1. Josh's Poor Start Is A Blessing in Disguise – If you are in the camp that Josh Smith is either key to future Hawks prospects or is an inconsistent performer that must be moved, J-Smoove's start to the season couldn't have been scripted any better.  Shooting 41.3% from the field, 20% from 3pt range, and shooting Chris Dudleyish (36.8%) from the FT line would normally be cause for concern, but we all know that Josh Smith when motivated and focused only on the things he can do well is a producer of All Star numbers. So, if you want to re-sign him at a reasonable cost - seeing him struggle is not all bad.  Particularly if you want to bring him back to join other superstar talents.   On the other hand, if the answer is to move him - it's certainly palatable that you could trade him without a hometown revolt when he's putting up numbers like this. Pick your medicine or poison.  Your move, Sir Ferry?

2. Teague's Minutes Are A Problem – This has been a Hawk Str8Talk recurring theme since he was drafted. Teague needs more minutes - the most minutes a player on this team can reasonably expect, which is around at least 37MPG. To be considered the head of this team, to get us in the right sets, set the right tempo, and to close games - you have to play.  There aren't any point guards on this team besides Jeff Teague (ignoring Devin Harris' contributions), so the fact that he's playing fewer minutes than DeShawn Stevenson and Kyle Korver is the height of resource mismanagement.  If you want to point to why I don't trust Larry Drew as the coach of this team and the development of this team into a contender - call this Exhibit A.

3. Chemistry Is Under- and Over-Rated – Much has been said about the chemistry that the Hawks have and I'd like to say that I agree that the team has chemistry, but there are two forms of chemistry.  The first is off the court chemistry and it matters. That's what these Hawks have.  Do I like these people? Will I pull a gun on any of them for not paying their gambling debts?  Yes, these are important things, but way overrated as it relates to winning a title.  Kobe and Shaq didn't like each other, but won titles.  Michael Jordan and Dennis Rodman didn't hang out, but had one of the best championship runs ever.  It's on-court chemistry that wins titles and that cannot be generated with shuffling lineups and a lack of stability or identity.  So, yes - I'm thrilled that the Hawks like each other. It looks like a team happy to be out from under the weight of a Joe Johnson-led attack, but it is not even close to a team that has jelled on the court.  Can they get there? History doesn't suggest that it's likely. Rarely does such a vastly remodeled team come together in less than a season's time and there's nothing that suggests that that changes with this year's team.

4. The Season Will Be A Roller Coaster Ride – Now that said, I like roller coasters. The highs are high and the lows are just lulls that you use to prepare yourself for the next high, so you'll see some wins over NBA contenders and you'll see some losses to the Golden State Warriors.  You'll see a 5 game win streak and then you'll see a 4 game losing streak.  I haven't seen any sense that there is a plan outside of do what I can to win a basketball game, so the kind of progression you'd like to see in a team throughout a season with playoff aspirations is not likely, so Great American Scream Machine meet Atlanta Hawks Basketball.

5. The Hawks Are A Playoff Team – Here's the most important item to remember when we assess this team - there's talent on this team.  Talent trumps chemistry and coaching as it relates to playoff hunts that include 8 teams.  So, while it is not in the best long term interest of this team to be in the playoffs, this is a playoff team.  The Hawks would have to lose at least 3 starters by injury or trade to make me entertain any possibility of this team not being able to make the playoffs, so print those playoff tickets of your 6th seed Atlanta Hawks.  (Insert grimace here)

And that's the quintuple truth, Ruth.  

Leave your thoughts in the comments section.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Friday, November 9, 2012

T.I. Is A Hawks Broadcaster? Yes, Indeed!

This is hot off the presses...tonight's telecast just got put on my DVR list.  Rubberband Man & Bob Rathbun - gotta hear this...


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, November 9, 2012

CONTACT:
Garin Narain or Alison Sawyer, Hawks Media Relations, 404.878.3800
Meagan Swingle, Fox Sports South, 404.230.7318
GRAMMY AWARD WINNING SUPERSTAR AND ATLANTA NATIVE, T.i., to join Atlanta Hawks broadcast on sportsouth
T.I. to make debut as color commentator during Hawks vs. Heat Broadcast tonight on SportSouth

ATLANTA, GA --- With music, acting, producing, two novels and fashion under his belt, Atlanta Native, T.I. will soon add NBA color commentator to his resume. When the Atlanta Hawks take on the Miami Heat tonight at Philips Arena, T.I. will join longtime SportSouth commentator Bob Rathbun and former Atlanta Hawk Duane Ferrell as contributing sports analyst.

During his debut, T.I. will participate in live game day coverage on SportSouth during the first two quarters of the Atlanta Hawks vs. Miami Heat game airing at 7:30 p.m.

T.I. will be available for media prior to the broadcast from 6:45 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

The Atlanta Hawks, a member of the National Basketball Association since 1949, play in the Southeast Division, along with the Charlotte Bobcats, Miami Heat, Orlando Magic and Washington Wizards. Tickets for all Hawks home games are on sale at www.hawks.com/tickets, the Philips Arena box office and all Ticketmaster locations, with absolutely no ticketing fees. Purchase lower level season tickets for the 2012-13 season for less than $24 a game! For more information, log onto www.hawks.com or follow the team’s official Twitter feed at @ATLHawks and on Facebook at facebook.com/Hawks.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Honesty Corner's 5 Truths - Season 2, Vol. 1

It's a new year and that means more truths, so let's fire it up and get ready to go. It's this week's 5 truths.  Read up and see you in the comments...


1. Danny Ferry Agrees With Me – Most weeks, I’m going to be more interested in what the organization is doing to remake itself into a first class organization than I am interested in the short term implications of this season.  Wins and losses are desired on game day, but ultimately the success of this season isn’t defined by records, seeding, and playoff results.  The success is based on pointing this organization’s trajectory on a path in the upper tier of organizations on the order of Los Angeles, Boston, Miami, Dallas, and the New York – Knicks & Nets (yes, I said Nets).  Therefore, it was good news to hear that planning for upgraded locker rooms, new practice facilities, and even spending money on training for coaching, trainers, and staff to help them do their jobs better strikes the right chord with this fan.  All indications that I’ve received is that there is no mandate for this year, no expectations for our team.  And there shouldn’t be…9 new faces; 11 up for new contracts, and 1 coach who has no guarantee he’ll be back next year all line up for Truth #2

2. The Season Is An Audition – This season will be one for patience.  It’ll take until Game 30 or so to get a true read on this team.  It’ll be a season where the Hawks can get roasted by James Harden on one night and defeat his former cohorts a few nights later WITHOUT their best player.  It’s the reminder that this team is not talentless.  It’s just chemistry-less.  That chemistry will be tested from the GM to the coach to the players.  Chemistry that leaves Ivan Johnson and Anthony Morrow on the bench one night and puts them on the floor the next in crucial situations.  Be ready for guys to start one night and DNP-CD the next.  So, be assured that it’s audition time.  Some for other teams and others for a future with the Hawks.  Either way, we should be clear to not let panic set in as it’s important that we all support the process that the team is embarking upon and that’s to remake the organization and figure out who fits and who doesn’t.

3. Rookies Stand Down – Of course, missing from this audition are John Jenkins and Mike Scott.  Now, we knew that Mike Scott was unlikely to see some time this early if at all, but when you’re the 1st round pick of a team that’s in transition (pun intended) – you probably want to get the 1st round pick some experience for when he’s actually called upon in the future (i.e. 2013-2014).  Now, it’s Game 2, so there’s nothing to panic about here…unless you were expecting to see him in the preseason or to even hear his name from anyone these days.  If you’re looking for the first chink in the armor that Danny Ferry has put on as the general manager, not seeing him even close to a minute could be cause for criticism.  He certainly shouldn’t play before Lou Williams, but otherwise, there are no special players ahead of Jenkins that mandate that he should be bolted to the bench.  In this case, I always say follow the money – the guy who has a contract beyond this year should ultimately play more than those who don’t.  For context, there are the 40 rookies who have played so far.  How many were selected after Jenkins? 25. How many are playing for teams in the tier of the Atlanta Hawks (mid-range, but not a contender)?  Maybe 6 have played real minutes in every game (3 play for the Dallas Mavericks), so I only mention this for those who will reflexively respond with – “rookies shouldn’t play, need to earn time, etc.”  This is true for teams that won’t be radically different and are building toward or contending for a title.  The Hawks do not qualify for this designation just yet.  Play the kids…

4. The Darkhorse Is Still Buckin’ – This little ditty came across my RSS feed this week and I think it gives more fodder to my dream that Howard and Paul are not against playing for the same team (and this team should be the Atlanta Hawks).  Now, there’s a LOT that can be read into this article, but my red, white and blue colored glasses came away with three things.   A) Paul & Howard would like to play together, B) the assumption that it won’t happen came from the WRITER and not that it can’t happen at the end of the season, and C) that the faulty assumption that players won’t come to a destination because of the previous year’s team (see Heat, Miami from 2009-2010 to 2010-2011 OR Celtics, Boston ’06-07 to ’07-’08).   So, again – we’re the darkhorse, but I’m still unconvinced that a Josh Smith prodded, Danny Ferry overhaul and updated organizational structure can’t pull this off.  Journey said it best – Don’t Stop Believin’

5. Extend Larry Drew TODAY – Lastly, if I’m only taking the temperature of the Hawks fan room, Coach Larry Drew is not winning any fans in Atlanta.  Let me just put up the 3rd quarter of the Indiana game as an inexcusable and unacceptable excuse for coaching. I’ll attempt to blame many things that I don’t like about Coach Drew on his lame duck status, but that quarter isn’t one of them.  That said, maybe it’s his way, his rotations, the team’s lack of identity, but I have heard some rumblings in the Hawks organization that it’s possible that if the team doesn’t look good through the All Star break that he could be fired.  So, when there’s no strong indication that he’s not coaching for his job (i.e. an extension), you’re coaching for your job.  But if the Hawks are more flush with cash (and I’ve heard that the days of saving staples and paper – true stories – of yesteryear are over), while I strongly believe that Larry Drew should no longer be the coach, he can’t coach this group effectively without an extension.  I’ve said this for 2 seasons now – extend the man so he can coach knowing that a) the players can’t effectively submarine his efforts as easily and b) if unsuccessful, his paper won’t be affected for at least a hot minute.  There’s no way he’s asking John Jenkins to enter a game when he can ask Lou Williams. No way he’s asking Josh Smith to rest that ankle an extra day when he can NOT and hopefully win an extra game.  So, that’s a problem.  So, it’s worth whatever his 1 year salary extension is to make this season useful.  GM Danny Ferry, make it happen.