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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

2006-07 Good Call Hawks

The 2005-06 Good Call Hawks wildly exceeded expectations to finish the season with a 45-33 record to make the playoffs. Further, they were able to knock off the Cavs in the first round only to lose to the Pistons in the second round. The question is whether the 2006-07 team can build on that success.

Once again, the depth chart is as follows:

PG - Chris Paul, Chris Duhon, JJ Barea
SG - Joe Johnson, Monta Ellis
SF - Andre Igoudala, Matt Barnes, Trevor Ariza
PF - Josh Smith, Paul Millsap, Leon Powe
C - Chris Wilcox,
Zaza Pachulia, Chuck Hayes

Al Harrington, last year's starting PF was traded to make way for Josh Smith. Further, Chris Wilcox was brought in to be the starting C, and Matt Barnes was brought in for wing depth. With fine tuning of the roster, the Good Call Hawks improve again to a record of 52-30 record, good for the 2 seed and the SE division crown. By comparison, the real Hawks went 30-52 and against missed the playoffs.

Due to the Hawks entering into the playoff seeding, the Nets slide down to the 7 seed and face the Good Call Hawks in the first round. Both teams split their first two home games for a 2-2 tie heading back to Atlanta, but the Hawks take the last two games to win the series 4-2. The Hawks take Game 6 on the road by a score of 106-102. As was the forte for the Hawks during the regular season, they received a balanced scoring effort with 5 players in double figures, led by Chris Wilcox's 21-11 double-double.

In the second round, the Hawks again play LeBron's Cavaliers. Due to the Hawks' superior record, the Cavs were bumped down to the 3 seed in the East, so the Hawks have home court advantage in this series. Like the first round, the teams each split their first two home games for a 2-2 heading into game 5. However, in a repeat of the first round, the Good Call Hawks go on to win the next to games to take the series 4-2. In game 6 won 109-100 led by Joe Johnson's 23 points on 9/14 shooting. Further the Cavs had 20 turnovers, 11 more than the Hawks, 13 of which were from Hawks steals.

The eastern conference finals is a rematch from the second round last year with the 1 seed Pistons meeting the 2 seed Hawks. The Hawks were obviously revved up for the rematch because they get a 4 game sweep to send the Hawks to the NBA finals for the first time since they moved to Atlanta. The vaunted Pistons defense was no match for the balanced scoring from the Good Call Hawks, who scored 112, 109, 102, and 92 points respectively. In Game 4 before a raucous Atlanta crowd, the Hawks jumped out to a 30-16 lead in the first quarter that the Pistons were never able to overcome.

Finally faced the Spurs in the finals. Game 1 win - 114-95 with six players in double figures. Game 2 win 114-100 with 11 players at least 5 points. Game 3 loss - 97-88. 20 TOs from hawks and Duncan goes for 20-20-6 ast. Game 4 loss 97-95 behind another 20 point game from Duncan. Game 5 loss with Duncan going for 38 while Joe and Chris combine for 5-25. Game 6 win 106-104 with 6 Hawks in double digits. Game 7 loss 106-94. Tied after 3 quarters but the experienced Spurs took over down the stretch.

Monday, March 26, 2012

2006 Good Call Offseason

Once again, let's start with the actual transactions done by Billy Knight and determine whether to keep those transactions:

July 12 -
Hawks sign free agent PG Speedy Claxton - This signing was an absolute disaster and completely unnecessary with the guard depth on this team. Moving on...

August 22 - Hawks acquire 2007 first round draft pick from Indiana for Al Harrington and John Edwards - Technically John Edwards is no longer on the team, but I don't think he was a vital cog to this trade since he was waived by the Pacers in the preseason. With Josh Smith getting better and the drafting of Millsap and Powe, flipping Harrington for what will end up as the 11th pick is a great deal for the Good Call Hawks.

August 30 - Hawks sign free agent C Lorenzen Wright - I'm definitely not a fan of this signing, but there is a small problem with the center position for the Good Call Hawks since Przybilla is also a free agent. In the 2006 offseason, he signed a 5 year $32 million contract, which I have no intention of matching due to his injuries problems.

So, I need another center. Ideally, I'd like to upgrade from Zaza, but there aren't many decent centers that end up as free agents. There are some decents options in the restricted free agent market with Yao Ming and Nene, but Yao wasn't leaving Houston and Nene was overpaid for all his injuries. Nazr Mohammed also signed a 5 year deal for $31 million, which I am not eager to match. Finally, we have Chris Wilcox at 3 years and $19.5 million. While less years and some decent production, I'm reluctant to lock up that money when I have Monta, Josh, and Iggy all coming up for extensions in 2008. However, the remaining options are the proverbial pu-pu platter: Lorenzen Wright - 2 year $6 million, Jarron Collins - 3 year $7 million, or Francisco elson - 2 year $6 million. So I think we go a little undersized and pick up Chris Wilcox.

This gives the team 11 players for $37,881,839, which is about $15 million under the salary cap. So let's see if there are any players to fill out the roster that are free agents. First, we'll pick up JJ Barea for some guard depth since he was an undrafted free agent. Then we'll beat Golden State to the punch for Matt Barnes for some additional wing depth. This gives us 14 players for$39,730,097, which is over $13 million from the salary cap. Here is the final depth chart:

PG: Chris Paul, Chris Duhon, JJ Barea
SG: Joe Johnson, Monta ellis
SF: Andre Iguodala, Matt Barnes, Trevor Ariza
PF: Josh Smith, Paul Millsap, Leon Powe
C: Chris Wilcox, Zaza Pachulia, Chuck Hayes

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

2006 NBA Draft

With the 45-33 record from the 2005-06 season, the Hawks ended up with the 18th and 48th picks in the draft.

The 18th pick presents the first pick since taking over as the GM of the Good Call Hawks where I will pass on the best player available. The best player would be Rajon Rondo with this pick. However, with Paul and Duhon already on the roster on rookie contracts, Rondo would just be ridiculous depth. Normally I'm fine with that idea, but knowing the personality of Rondo and the fact that he would never be able to get in front of Paul on the depth chart, it would probably be a problem. Duhon has the Coach K training from Duke, so he'll take his bench role in stride. Meanwhile, we'd have a moody Rondo messing with team chemistry. Plus, in the rules of this scenario, I don't have the option to simply trade Rondo down the line. Finally, the team really needs some talent down low to take it to the next level.

So with the 18th pick, the Good Call Hawks take Paul Millsap. He can fill the same role that he did with the Jazz by providing some bench toughness, rebounding, and some scoring. Plus, this will be perfect for the later trade of Al Harrington.

The next pick is the 48th, and we're once again picking from bit players. The only decent player left that was drafted is Leon Powe. If you go to the undrafted players, you can include Louis Amundson and Barea as options. Once again, we have the problem of a logjam at the two guard positions with Johnson, ellis, Paul, and Duhon. While I would prefer to pick up a center prospect at this point, there's not really any options. Therefore, I'm going to go with Powe. He was a quality backup starting in his first year. He's a bit redundant after taking Millsap, but the Hawks can go small with the second unit and play both together against certain teams.

Next post is the 2006 offseason.

Monday, March 19, 2012

2005-06 Good Call Hawks

Sorry for the brief hiatus. I was on vacation last week, but let's get back to the Good Call Hawks. After the 2005 NBA draft and the following offseason, here is the final roster going into the 2005-06 campaign:

PG - Chris Paul, Chris Duhon
SG - Joe Johnson, Tony Delk, Monta ellis
SF - Andre Iguodala, Trevor Ariza, Damien Wilkins
PF - Al Harrington, Josh Smith
C - Zaza Pachulia, Joel Przybilla, Chuck Hayes

We're only two drafts into this exercise, and there is already little resemblance to the actual Hawks team. The SF position is just as deep, but with completely different players. The only position that is exactly the same is the PF position. Well I say exactly the same, but we're moving Josh over to PF early knowing that he can't shoot enough to stay on the wing. In comparing to the actual 05-06 Hawks team, there is an upgrade at SF, a major upgrade at PG, and better depth at C. Long-term, Monta will be a terrific 6th man, but now he's just a guard fresh out of high school.

While there wasn't much change in record for the 04-05 Good Call Hawks, this season sees a significant jump. Instead of going 26-56, tied for last in the Southeast division, the Good Call Hawks blow through the eastern conference in the simulation and end up with a 45-37 record, good for the 5th seed.

This pits the Good Call Hawks against another rising team in the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round of the playoffs. The home team wins the first four games leaving the series tied at 2-2. The Good Call Hawks finally break serve in the 5th game, pulling out a thrilling victory in Cleveland before finishing off the Cavs in the 6th game to take the series 4-2.

The Good Call Hawks then take on the reigning champions in the Detroit Pistons, who have the best record in the league. While the young Good Call Hawks put up a fight, the Pistons eventually take the series 4-2.

So instead of going 26-56 and ending up back in the lottery again, the Good Call Hawks have a 19 win improvement and actually push last year's champions in the second round. Not back for only two offseasons.

The next post will try to keep the momentum going with the 2006 NBA Draft.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

2005 Offseason

Turenne/Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images
Once again, if you don't know why I'm going through the moves made by the Hawks in 2005, please refer to this article.

So now that we've gone through the draft, it's now time to try and fill out our depth chart. Now that we've gone through two drafts making the best picks, it's probably best of check out the depth chart to make sure the moves made the rest of the year make sense with the roster.

PG - Chris Paul, Chris Duhon
SG - Tony Delk, Monta ellis
SF - Boris Diaw, Andre Iguodala, Trevor Ariza, Damien Wilkins
PF - Al Harrington, Josh Smith
C - Joel Przybilla, Chuck Hayes

With that information, the next question is whether the remaining moves during the Hawks offseason make any sense.

August 11 - Hawks Sign Free Agent C Zaza Pachulia. As you might guess, there aren't many quality big men that are available through free agency. The only other decent option is Chris Anderson, but he was suspended from basketball from 2006 to 2008. Plus I think everyone in Atlanta loves Zaza, so I'm keeping him.

August 19 - Hawks Trade Boris Diaw And Two First Round Picks To Phoenix For Joe Johnson. While this trade was criticized because Phoenix did not seem to have any intent of matching the offer made by the Hawks, I can't change the deal per the rules of this exercise. Thus, we are only analyzing the deal as it was made. Diaw has had some decent years, but has also shown up out of shape over and over again. The 2006 first round pick was the Lakers pick, so you could bet that it wasn't going to be in the lottery. Plus, with the ability to draft with hindsight, the other pick hopefully won't be in the lottery either. Finally, looking at the roster above, Joe would fill the SG position nicely, and open up Iggy at SF. Therefore, I'm deciding to do the Joe Johnson deal again.

August 30 - Hawks Re-Sign Tyronn Lue. This would be a pure depth signing since we now have Paul and Duhon. With Woody as the coach, I would not even give him the option of not playing Paul, so I'm going to pass on resigning Lue.

Next post we got to find out how this most recent round of decision making turns out.