"They’re going to be (expletive) good this year. You throw JC and Joe Smith and this kid [Jeff] Teague, and they’ve got some wrinkles now that they didn’t have last season. They were already a dangerous team and now they’re really dangerous. And knowing these fans down here and what they like, they’re going to love the style this team can play. They’re going to love JC."*After "an anonymous scout"
More like reputations.
JAMAL CRAWFORD (career) vs. FLIP MURRAY (08-09)
Jamal Crawford is a better basketball player than Flip Murray but Flip Murray was a better basketball player than Flip Murray last year. Said another way, Crawford is extremely likely to be a better player than Flip Murray in 2009-10. Jamal Crawford is not very likely to a better player in 2009-10 than Flip Murray was in 2008-09. In very rough terms, the Hawks figure to add an extra assist every 21 minutes at the cost of an extra missed shot every 51 minutes. Plus the difference between Murray's average defense and Crawford's abominable defense.
JOE SMITH (career) vs. ZAZA PACHULIA (career)
At this point in his career, Joe Smith projects to offer little improvement over Zaza Pachulia, and what improvement Smith might reasonably offer--an extra point a game, a extra blocked shot every three or four games--will come at the expense of rebounds, especially offensive rebounds, which, unless everyone again has a career season from beyond the three-point line, figure to be a more important factor in 2009-10 than they were in 2008-09 when the Hawks finished a disappointing 19th in the league in offensive rebound rate.
But even if Smith is a similar player to Pachulia* whose skills don't complement his future teammates as well as do Pachulia's, the first 675 minutes Smith plays will be as a direct replacement for Solomon Jones. That's something positive.
JOE SMITH (08-09) vs. SOLOMON JONES (08-09)
Though Jones put up superficially decent numbers in limited minutes last season, Smith figures to surpass that production while playing non-garbage time minutes and providing much, much, much better defense both before and after an opponent's shot goes up.
*And he is. Joe Smith is a backup center who plays adequate position defense. Any extra blocks he gets are simply a function of his reach compared to Pachulia's.
Rick Sund undeniably made good decisions in replacing Solomon Jones with a better player and not expecting Flip Murray to replicate his career year. Those decisions, though, do not in and of themselves make the team better so much as they increased the chances of the team not getting worse. The positive impact of the difference between Smith and Jones will be reduced every time Smith takes minutes away from Pachulia, Al Horford, or Josh Smith.
Jamal Crawford is a better passer than Flip Murray but he'll shoot just as often thus continuing to limit touches for Williams and Horford. Crawford's inadequate defense will make it more difficult for Mike Woodson to hide Mike Bibby defensively.
If the Hawks are better in 2009-10 (and I'm not convinced they won't be) it will be because Williams, Horford, and Josh Smith stay healthy and shore up the defense for 82 games, because Jeff Teague plays just well enough to allow Woodson to feel he can rest Joe Johnson and Mike Bibby with limited risk, and because Josh Smith pulls his significant and disparate talents together. Jamal Crawford and Joe Smith are nice rotation players. They are not difference makers when added to a 47-win team.