Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Responding To Future Power Rankings Comments

It being the off-season, I'm exercising my prerogative to respond to the fine comments from a previous post in the form of a new post.

As of this writing, the fine NBA editors at have only posted the teams whose futures Ford and Hollinger have ranked 11-30 so I'm reluctant to say much about a subjective ranking without seeing the rankings but I think it's (roughly) a fair ranking because...
  1. Ownership is, for the foreseeable future, a detriment to building a championship team in Atlanta.
  2. I think Joe Johnson has one more really good year left in him. From that point on the Hawks will owe $107 million to their (at best) third-best player.
  3. Profligate spending on re-signing not just Johnson but also Bibby and Marvin Williams (unless he's given and thrives in a larger role) has limited their future options to a) re-signing Horford and b) dumping salary.
  4. The organization has never worked to acquire assets they could afford to give up in trades to improve the team. Without cap flexibility or a good reason/the ability to pay the luxury tax, the Hawks would have to trade Josh Smith or Al Horford to acquire an impact player in a trade and this hypothetical player's impact would be seriously blunted by the loss of Horford or Smith.
  5. Even in Joe Johnson's expensive decline years, Horford and Smith (and, one hopes, Jeff Teague and Crawford the Younger) are likely good enough (and the bottom half of the Eastern Conference bad enough) to keep the Hawks in the playoffs and out of the lottery, thus making building through the draft* difficult.
*And bizarrely, despite being win-now in all their other decisions (save the choices for the end of the bench which are probably best not dwelt on for any length of time), the Hawks have chosen two long-term prospects (and sold the 31st pick in the 2010 Draft) in the draft rather than taking someone (Darren Collison, DeJuan Blair, Damion James, etc.) capable of contributing immediately in a position of need. I write this as an admirer of both Teague and Crawford.

As for the particular complaint of Rufus1 regarding the ranking of the Oklahoma City Thunder relative to the Hawks...
  1. Unlike the Hawks, Oklahoma City drafted a franchise player.
  2. Said franchise player is younger than every member of the 2009-10 Hawks roster and is just 24 days older than Jordan Crawford.
  3. The Zombie Sonics franchise has ably (as partially evidenced by their winning 50 games in the third rather than fifth year of a rebuilding program) and purposefully (as partially evidenced by their firing of a coach failing to develop young players early in the second season of his tenure rather than signing him to a second, shorter contract that all but gave him an incentive not to develop young players) built around said franchise player.
  4. In their first appearance in the playoffs they were out-scored by the soon-to-be NBA champions by 10 points over 6 games rather than 84 points over 7 games.
  5. The Thunder have both cap flexibility going forward and more useful young players than they can accommodate.
  6. They buy, rather than sell, picks at the top of the second round.
  7. Sam Presti runs this game. Rick Sund doesn't. Nor will the next Atlanta Hawks GM.
There's no shame appearing worse than the Thunder over the next three seasons. The problem is that the Hawks do not appear to have given themselves opportunities to get better than they currently are nor have they given themselves recognizable options should anything unforeseen (in a bad way) occur. That's how a team's future gets ranked similar to that of the Nets, Clippers, and Pacers. It's not pleasant, but it's been a long time coming.


Unknown said...

WHY DID THEY RESIGN JOE!!??? not to win obviously!! This hawks team will be on a rebuilding process in the next year for the following 5. We will make the playoffs next year as the number 7 seed to loose in 5 games. no way we will be an elite team with Joe on board. Sorry Joe, but, you need to give back some of that money to bring in great players and to resign Al. Your not worth it. Now I see its about you. I have lost a lot of respect for the hawks organization. Im from Ga, born and raise. I tell you this, i will not be renewing my season tickets.

Rufus1 said...

A little prospective

We are talking about the Seattle Supersonics???? You are asking the Hawks to model themselves after the Supersonics???? They got Lucky....That is It!!! We drafted # 3 that year...If we drafted #2 we would have taken Durant. The got LUCKY an drafted the next transcendent player......every team drafting at #2 would have taken Durant. Without Durant they would be NJ. They still have the same owner, they are still in a small market and they will be the Hornets in 3 years when all those rookie contract expire.

bryant said...

rufus: we did have the number 2 pick before (actually twice) and came up with shareef Abdul-rahim and a role player. so we really lose an argument against the thunder on that one.

for these rankings though, i wouldn't look at them as a straight list however and just tier them I,II, III with the first tier being teams that have a shot each year of being in the conference finals each year, tier II being teams with a shot at getting there in a few years and tier III being teams that will still be rebuilding in a few years. that takes alot of the animosity of having to try to compare teams with a pretty much equal chance (being 5-15%) of actually being able to contend.

the reality is that even though there are supposedly 18 teams higher on this list, really only 5 have a better shot of contending and that is because they have players capable of laying waste to whatever plan you have of victory. it has nothing to do with second round draft picks, mid-level exceptions or luxury taxes. if the hawks have to play the lakers for 7 games we will lose, same with the spurs, or whatever team has been beasting us for over 5 years now. orlando is a clearly superior team to us and they got blasted at some point as well.

i have a theory that most of the owners in professional sports feel this way and that for alot of them, success doesn't come with a victory parade. if you can go home at the end of the day with a respectable showing in the regular and post season then you can go home happy. does that mean you don't reach for the stars, no. but that doesn't mean you blow yourself up (financially) doing it.

Unknown said...

I dont think we drafted Shareef...I think he was traded to us in 01.

Also, Marvin was the top rated player in the 2005 draft. He was supposed to be the superstar of the class. People raved about his body, athleticism, and Bball IQ. The reality is, he has not panned out. Partially his fault, Woodsons fault, and he may just be a bust in that he will never be a superstar.

Rufus1 said...

I will give you Woodson as a Bad decision...THAT IS IT!

Definition of Lucky

Being bad enough and lucky enough to draft a player in a year with an obvious great player and have that player live upto expectations

The draft is a "crap shot" OKC was LUCKY to not get the #1 pick or they would be the NETS. It is amazing how being lucky can change the perception of an organization....ASK THE CAVS. If you are LUCKY enough to draft a transcendent player(Lebron, Durant, Howard or Duncan) you are given credit for being SMART, SAVVY and A GOOD ORGANIZATION. We quickly forget how TERRIBLE an organization they were before they hit the LOTTERY. The Cavs, Supersonics and Hornets were vilified for years as being badly run teams... before they got LUCKY. Read what they said about Mitch Kupchek before Jerry West gave them GASOL(The Hawks offered AL or The #3 pick for Gasol and the took "FISH HEADS" instead) or Ainge and Rivers before Santa delivered KG.

None of these teams are better run than the Hawks, they have simply benefited from circumstances beyond the Hawks control.

Unknown said...

Were the Thunder lucky when they drafted Russell Westbrook as a point guard despite the fact that he played the 2 in college and put up weak numbers when proven points like Augustine and Bayless were both available. Yeah, Presti is totally lucky :)

Unknown said...

Are we saying Westbrook was the right pick? He was projected to be drafted high with a lot of upside. Last year, 41%fg, 22%3pfg, 3.2TO. He has upside and he did have 8apg but plays with the scoring champ.

Just because the media gets hot on players, doesnt mean there great.

jrauch said...

Outside Durant, Presti has continued to build up tradeable assets, while retaining cap space to take advantage of others poor planning (the Eric Maynor deal last night as a prime example).

He's playing chess while the Hawks are trying to master Connect 4.

Did they get lucky with Durant? Of course, but they've also been extremely smart in what they've built around him. Unlike the Hawks.