Thursday, November 01, 2007

Hoopinion's 2007-08 Atlanta Hawks Preview

For those with short attention spans or a disinterest in my speculative prose, I'm predicting 38-44 and 10th in the East. The best case scenarios below would get them to 42 or 44 wins. The worst case scenarios would result in 30 or 32 wins.

Even in a worst (excluding a rash of season-ending injuries) case scenario I think this team will win more games than last year.

Point guard

BEST CASE SCENARIO(S): Acie Law IV starts and is soon able to finish games. Tyronn Lue, playing with the second unit, makes enough shots either to push the Hawks toward a playoff berth or be an attractive trading chit in early '08. Speedy Claxton gets healthy. More realistically, Speedy Claxton only plays when healthy enough to be productive. There's a GM another GM dumb enough to give up a second-round pick for the opportunity to pay Anthony Johnson to be a third-string point guard.

WORST CASE SCENARIO(S): Acie Law IV takes a full year to adjust to the NBA. Tyronn Lue is bothered by his knee and plays poorly. Or, Tyronn Lue plays well, the Hawks hold on to him, the Hawks don't make the playoffs, and he leaves in the summer as a free agent. Speedy Claxton tries to play through his injuries. Anthony Johnson plays 20 minutes a night. Other teams realize that none of these guys are especially good defenders.

Two guard

BEST CASE SCENARIO(S): Between Acie Law IV's solid point guard play and improved frontcourt scoring from Marvin Williams and Al Horford, Joe Johnson becomes a far more efficient offensive player. In fact, the Hawks' offense becomes multi-faceted enough that Johnson can backup the point guard position for short stretches in an emergency, thus freeing Salim Stoudamire to get some playing time as they cross-match defensively. Mario West develops into the new Ira Newble (of Ira Newble's useful years fame). Or, the Hawks sign Hassan Adams to replace Mario West on the roster.

WORST CASE SCENARIO(S): Joe Johnson's usage continues to slightly outpace his ability. Mike Woodson plays Ira Newble clone (of Ira Newble in Cleveland fame) Mario West as much as he played Royal Ivey. The Hawks play two of their point guards at the same time for extended periods of time. The Hawks sign Hassan Adams to replace Mario West on the roster. Three weeks later he and Stoudamire get into a fight at practice.

Things break down a bit here as the frontcourt positions are so fluid...

Small Forward

BEST CASE SCENARIO(S): Marvin Williams and Josh Childress split all the minutes at the position, each adding some minutes at power forward and two guard, respectively.

WORST CASE SCENARIO(S): Josh Smith shooting three-pointers. Joe Johnson playing alongside a miniature backcourt.

Power Forward

BEST CASE SCENARIO(S): Josh Smith develops post moves, forgoes (for the most part) jump shots. Shelden Williams continues to rebound while remembering how to block shots.

WORST CASE SCENARIO(S): Marvin Williams trying to defend the post. Solomon Jones trying to defend the post.


BEST CASE SCENARIO(S): Zaza Pachulia is healthy enough that between he and Al Horford, a minutes crunch emerges. A minutes crunch is eased as Pachulia and Horford show themselves quite adept at playing together. Shelden Williams and Solomon Jones develop choreographed in-game bench celebrations.

WORST CASE SCENARIO(S): Pachulia isn't healthy and Mike Woodson goes small a lot in the frontcourt or has Lorenzen Wright playing the minutes that should be Shelden Williams's as everyone moves up a slot in the rotation. Lorenzen Wright declines Shelden Williams and Solomon Jones's invitation to participate in choreographed in-game bench celebrations.

My preferred rotation

2G Johnson
SF M Williams
PF Smith
C Horford
6 Childress for M Williams unless Johnson's in early foul trouble
7 Pachulia for Smith or Horford
8 Lue for Law IV
(at which point, M Williams back in for one of Johnson/Smith/Horford)
9 S Williams for remaining Smith/Horford
10 Stoudamire/West for Johnson depending on matchup
11 Solomon Jones for dunks/blocks/sublimity in the dog minutes of an NBA schedule
12 Stoudamire/West for shot attempts/hustle or Claxton for rehab experimentation

In street clothes...Lorenzen Wright, Anthony Johnson, and Speedy Claxton (in his case, sad, but likely)

Ballhype: hype it up!

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