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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

So Really, How Good are the Hawks?

I think I like Sekou's answer the best, you're not as good as your best days and you're not as bad as your worst days. I'm sure I butchered the saying, but you get the gist of it. The Hawks are flying high at 5-0, but I think you're jumping out on a limb to say they're one of the elite teams in the East. I'm not saying the limb is going to break, but it isn't the steadiest position. So let's move back to the trunk and try to figure out what we can glean from the first 5 games.

1. The Hawks will not be awful on the road this year. Last year the Hawks barely squeaked into the playoffs mainly due to a 12-29 road record compared to a 25-16 home record. This home/road split was quite evident in their playoff series where they lost 4 games in Boston by an average margin of 25.25 points. This year, however, the Hawks already have 3 road wins (1/4 of last years total), including wins against 2 playoff teams from last year; Orlando and New Orleans. I think this trend will continue with the young players getting another year under their belt and the addition of Flip and Mo, two vets who will provide more stability on the road.

2. The Hawks bench will not be a liability. I'm not going to go as far as calling the bench an asset just yet, but we have gone from having one bench player worth anything in Childress to having several bench players that can contribute. Now we have 3-4 (depending on how you count Solo). Additionally the bench players look like they defined roles this year. Last year Woodson yanked around everyones minutes (except Childress) so they never knew when they were coming into the game, for how long, and what they're role was going to be. This year the roles are:
Flip is the bench player who can create his own offense. Mo is the wing defender who can knock down the 3. Zaza is the energy big man (18 offensive rebounds in 5 games). Even Solo has played good D off the bench (5 blocks and many more altered shots in the last two games).
Hopefully Woody will stick to his rotation and give the bench some consistency. The bench will especially help over the long haul of the season as it will keep Joe's minutes down, give us more of a chance on the second night of a back-to-back, and will help us survive the inevitable injuries.

3. The Hawks can shoot the 3. Last year it was Joe and Bibby, and before the trade for Bibby it was just Joe. This meant that opposing defenses could lock down on Joe and cheat off of everyone else. This made every offensive possession a struggle to find room to operate. This year, however, Mo (43.8%) and Flip (41.2%) joined Joe (44%) and Bibby (37.9%) in shooting well beyond the arc. Additionally Marvin, who attempted 10 3's all season last year, has hit 4-7 (57.1%) in 4 games this year. Now the Hawks can put on the floor 3-4 (if we go small) players who can consistently knock down the 3. This will spread out the floor for Josh and Horford, and, especially, make it so a defense will pay for collapsing down on Joe.

Like I said at the top, I think it's way too early to predict anything too crazy for the Hawks. At the same time, however, the fast start has made it so people won't think you're completely insane for putting the Hawks in the elite of the east.

1 comment:

MLT said...

it's funny. people said our bench was turrble turrble turrble (in the words of The Round Mound) this year. I'm trying to think about our bench last year. It was basically Josh at the 1/2/3 and ZaZa at the 4/5 and that's it, right? Law was hurt, we had AJ who was turrble, LoWrighter was beyond turrble.

It also seems like the Celtics series actually did make the players hungrier and gave some of them focus (Josh).