Blog: Impending Firestorm
Author: Chase Kuech
Team Name: Atlanta Hawks
Last Year’s Record: 26-56
Key Losses: Jason Collier, Al Harrington, John Edwards
Key Additions: Speedy Claxton, Lorenzen Wright, Shelden Williams
1. What significant moves were made during the offseason?
There were three main pieces to the Hawks offseason: 1) The NBA Draft. The Hawks addressed inside needs by drafting Shelden Williams from Duke fifth overall and Solomon Jones from South Florida. Both players plan to help defensively, and should at the very least take up some room inside, something the Hawks did not have last season. 2) The departure of Al Harrington. Harrington didn’t want to be in Atlanta, and there was no reason for him to stay. He didn’t fit in with the team last year as far as playing style is concerned, and he was way too overpriced for the team to try to keep him this year. Atlanta tends to be a pretty financially tight team, so paying Al Harrington $6-8 mil a year just wasn’t worth it for the results he provided. 3) Additions in free agency. The Hawks addressed both of their major needs in the offseason, signing Speedy Claxton and Lorenzen Wright. They finally have some dept at both the point guard and center positions, something they haven’t had for years.
2. What are the team’s biggest strengths?
The team’s biggest strengths have to be athleticism and flexibility. The stars of the team, Josh Childress, Marvin Williams, Joe Johnson and Josh Smith all have the ability to play at least two different positions on the court, which gives the Hawks depth at various positions and also gives them insurance when injuries hit. The reason these players are all so flexible is due to their unbelievable athleticism. Josh Childress is the least athletic of the group, but he is still deceptively athletic and quick. Josh Smith is the best known for his jumping ability thanks to winning the Slam Dunk Competition two years ago.
3. What are the team’s biggest weaknesses?
The biggest problem is this team is lack of experience and leadership. Joe Johnson is expected to step into a leadership position after his performance at the World Basketball Championships over the summer. With Speedy Claxton taking some of the point guard duties away it should help Joe Johnson slide into being a bigger leader this season. This is a very young team and they don’t know how to win yet, since most of them have never seen a winning season. It will take some work to get things going down the right path.
4. What are the goals for this team?
I think the goal for this team is to hit 30 wins. But qualitatively, I think this team has to get their younger players as much floor time as possible and focus on developing the core of the big four. Claxton and Wright need to provide some veteran leadership and experience help to guide the younger players along. Last season, Marvin Williams didn’t get nearly enough playing time, so it will be important for Coach Mike Woodson to make sure he gets onto the court as much as possible.
5. What will make or break Atlanta’s season?
I think Atlanta’s season all hinges on the improvement of Marvin Williams. He should see significantly more playing time this season, and it’s time for him to step up and show that he deserved to be the second overall pick in the draft. Josh Smith, Josh Childress and Joe Johnson will all improve, but they don’t have nearly the room for improvement that Williams does. Shelden Williams also needs to step right in and start playing well from the beginning for this young team. If the younger players improve enough, this team can hit 30 wins this season.
Predicted Record: 37-45