With two weeks until the real starts in Memphis, there are things to worry about through three exhibition games: injuries, turnovers (16 more last night leading to 28 Washington points), Josh Smith missing half his free throws and attempting 10 (and, quite predictably, making only 3) of his 23 field goals from 16-to-23 feet but Jordan Crawford has done nothing but encourage the supposition that he's a good fit for Larry Drew's motion offense.
After providing more effort than execution in his exhibition debut, Crawford stepped up in the absence of Jeff Teague and his namesake Jamal each of the last two nights playing 93 of 96 minutes, scoring 50 points on 37 shots, grabbing 8 rebounds, and earning 12 assists against just 5 turnovers. Michael Cunningham had praise for Crawford's play at the point last night:
The Hawks play faster with Crawford at the point. He never stops coming, he’s confident and he’s skilled. And he tends to look the same no matter who he’s playing with.It's still unlikely that Crawford plays a significant role* this year, but it's reassuring to believe (at least for the time being) that the Hawks have one player who could step up should injury strike a key member of the core rotation during the regular season.
*Cunningham's very next note about Crawford:
He’s also a rookie, which means he sometimes immediately follows a very good play (drive-and-dish to Powell for a layup) with a bad one (forced runner early in the shot clock).Before the game, Larry Drew spoke about the team needing to improve its execution of the defensive game plan. Didn't happen.
"The defense was not very good at all. Their energy wasn't there; the intensity wasn't there."The return of Marvin Williams will surely help shore up the defense* but I fear nothing but frustration awaits Drew in his efforts to turn this collection of players into an able defensive unit. Check out Neil Paine's work on projecting player skills for the 2010-11 season and you'll see very little that's encouraging about Drew's defensive options on the perimeter.
Al Horford sums it up nicley:
"I think we have a long way to go as far as defense if we are going to be an elite team."As true today as it was in February 2008.
*That Joe Johnson, who doesn't record steals or blocks and has not been measurably helpful defensively either of the last two seasons while his athleticism noticeably diminishes, and non-roster players are taking the minutes at small forward likely exacerbates the damage of Williams' absence.