Blog Entry

Preseason Primer: Hawks

Posted on: September 26, 2010 6:30 pm
Edited on: September 26, 2010 6:30 pm
Posted by Royce Young

The Hawks made news by inking Joe Johnson to a superstar contract when many thought Johnson wasn't worth it. But it was either that or let him walk to a team that would give it to him. Atlanta didn't do much else and plans on the development of its young core to keep coming along. But the East may be passing them by. The Hawks are pretty much set heading to camp but still, the young faces might be able to push some of the older ones.

Training camp site: Atlanta, GA

Training camp starts: Sept. 28

Key additions: Josh Powell (free agent), Jordan Crawford (draft)

Key subtractions: Mike Woodson (fired)

Likely starting lineup:   Mike Bibby, PG; Joe Johnson, SG; Marvin Williams, SF; Josh Smith, PF, Al Horford, C

Player to watch: Any time a player gets paid, they immediately become someone to watch. And Joe Johnson got paid this summer. Most questioned the deal for Johnson, wondering if he was really worth the max money he was given. And now without the incentive of working for that contract left, all he has is the motivation he's got left is proving the doubters wrong. And winning games, of course.

Chemistry quiz: Jamal Crawford caused a bit of a stir asking for a pay-me-or-trade-me type of thing this summer. And coming into camp, that'll surely be a situation that hangs over a bit. But more than anything, the biggest question for the Hawks is if this team is ready to start moving ahead. Can they hang together now that players are getting big money, some are asking for money and a guy like Al Horford is waiting for his ship to come in. The Hawks were the up-and-comers a few years ago, now they better start moving ahead before contracts and disease of more stops everything in its tracks.

Camp battles: The Hawks are pretty much set across the board. The one battle that could be interesting later on is if Jeff Teague can push Mike Bibby at some point. This camp could be a big step in Teague showing he might be ready at some point.

Biggest strength: Length, athleticism and speed. Atlanta's starting five is as physically gifted as just about any group out there. Between Marvin Williams, Josh Smith and Al Horford, the team has talent out the wazoo. Johnson anchors the scoring and Horford is the steady inside presence. Atlanta may be missing something in the first five, but it's not much.

Glaring weakness: Depth. To be specific, depth on the inside. Jamal Crawford provides the scoring off the bench, Teague spells Bibby well (though Bibby may be on the way out) and Maurice Evans is a quality enough backup to Williams. But Josh Powell, Jason Collins and Zaza Pachulia may not be a strong enough secondary front line to battle Dwight Howard, Kevin Garnett or Chris Bosh in the East.

Since: Aug 25, 2009
Posted on: September 27, 2010 12:22 am

Preseason Primer: Hawks

Atlanta has two major weaknesses, to my mind. The first is the depth issues that Mr. Young ably spotlighted. However, I believe there to be one other problem area as well. And this one is in the starting five - point guard to be precise. Mike Bibby has never been a good defender and watching him last season, he was exposed many times. Now Bibby is not the only PG whose defense is less than stellar, but the difference between Bibby and a guy like Steve Nash (another PG whose defense is horrific) is that the schemes the Suns play tend to protect Nash from being utterly embarrassed. Other PGs who lack great one-on-one defensive skills such as Derek Fisher of the Los Angeles Lakers are outstanding team and position defenders - which Bibby is not. And in Fish's case, he is strong enough both mentaly and physically that he cannot be bullied. None of this is true of Bibby. In addition, in the Hawks' defensive schemes Bibby is often asked to defend one-on-one and he simply does not have that capability. Nor is he any longer a dead-eye shooter from he perimeter - he takes way too long to get hi shot of and he doesn't have the quickness any longer to create on his own. So this will be a weakness that can and almost certainly will, be exploited by the other teams in the League.

The Hawks will be very interesting to watch this year. There are a lot of issues that they will have to address now that they have given all that money to Johnson. Since Cleveland is assured of slipping, Atlanta will probably maintain their top-four seed in the Eastern Conference, but unless they can get better play from the point and find some solid backups, they are doomed to fail when they play any of the elite teams in their conference - the Celtics, the Magic and the Heat.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or