Atlanta fans have been cautiously optimistic for the last few years as they watched their club put together a solid core of young players who seemed to grow and develop more and more as a unit each year. This off-season has proven that it was false hope though, as one of the most mediocre franchises in NBA history, with possibly the most dysfunctional ownership groups ever assembled, has shown their fans just how committed they are to remaining mediocre. Read more to find out why the Hawks will struggle to stay in the air this upcoming season.
The Same Roster, Only Older Plus Josh Powell
Last season, Atlanta was pushed to seven games by a Milwaukee team missing it’s best player, Andrew Bogut, who could not even make the All-Star game in a conference, and league for that matter, lacking in even semi-decent centers. Milwaukee was not a good team. Also, this was the same Hawks team which was demolished by an NBA record 25 points per game average margin of victory in the next round against an Orlando team which couldn’t even get to the Conference Finals.
They acquired Jamaal Crawford last off-season as an offensive spark-plug who would bolster their bench and give them the necessary firepower to compete with the loaded rosters of Boston, Orlando and Cleveland. Re-read the above paragraph. It didn’t work. This season, they acquired Josh Powell to further bolster that bench. This is the same Josh Powell who’s bum was on a first name basis with the Staples Center bench and is averaging 3.8 ppg and 3 rpg over his career. I can understand Atlanta wanting to sign players with championship experience to maybe push them over the edge, but seriously, Josh Powell?
Mike Bibby is another year older and will struggle on his gimpy knees to stay in front of any player who can run at full-pace or change directions. He will provide solid leadership in the locker room, but will not provide anything of substance anywhere else.
Marvin Williams has made such a small impact and improved so little over the last three years that people have almost forgotten, maybe due to disbelief, that he was drafted ahead of Chris Paul and Deron Williams. He will have a few games where he finishes with decent stats, prompting people all over Atlanta to exclaim that this is finally his year to burst in to stardom, but then he will quickly resort back to his usual average self and make those same fans erupt in to a jealous rage the next time they see Paul or Williams play.
Josh Smith was in the conversation for the Most Improved Player award last year due to not taking as many shots as seasons past. Enough said.
Joe Johnson, a guy who averaged 17.9 ppg in last years Playoffs, was signed to the most lucrative contract of the off-season in a free agent pool which included Lebron James and Dwyane Wade, proving the ineptitude of the ownership group. When D Wade, Kobe Bryant and even Keyon Dooling and Kirk Hinrich are lighting up Joe Johnson this season while at the other end Joe is using up the entire shot clock to eventually force an isolated fade-away with a hand in his face, Atlanta fans will weep.
Al Horford, the one bright spot on this roster, is a 6’10 Center. He is a solid rebounder with a soft touch around the rim and decent outside shot, but he is a 6’10 center. No team has won with a center that size since the Bill Russell led Celtics. As hard as this may be to swallow for Atlanta fans, Al is no Bill Russell.
With a bench led by the gun-slinging ball-hog Jamaal Crawford and backed up by Maurice Evans, Zaza Pachulia, Josh Powell and Jason Collins (most Hawks fans don’t even know these players, so don’t feel bad if you don’t) this is a team which screams .500.
Sharing the same division as the consistently solid Orlando Magic and the 2K11, game-like dreamteam Miami Heat, this will be the year the Hawks come back down to earth and reclaim their status as the League’s most mediocre franchise.