Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Ball Don't Lie: 2011-12 Atlanta Hawks Preview

Kelly Dwyer, Dan Devine, and Eric Freeman preview the Atlanta Hawks.

The Hawks have been so consistent in their 45-win'ness that you wonder what a significant shock to the system would do to this club. The offense should vault up a tick this season based on the presence of a well-rested McGrady and Johnson's assumed return to form, but unless a whole lot of the East tears a whole lot of ligaments, the Hawks seem safe in their station. Set to look sound for stretches and take in whatever playoff gate receipts away them in spring.
Three years after spending a first-round draft pick on Teague, it's time for the Hawks to give him an actual, honest-to-goodness chance to play starters' minutes.

They need to find out if he can be the brand of explosive backcourt creator they've so desperately needed since choosing Marvin Williams over Deron Williams and Chris Paul in the 2005 NBA Draft. (And if you've always viewed Jason Terry as more of a two-in-one's-clothing than a real point guard, you might even argue that they've needed that type of player since Mookie Blaylock went west.) If Teague can prove that his play against the Bulls was the rule rather than the exception, he could be just the sort of spark that can help a relatively stagnant, middle-of-the-pack team finally break through that second-round ceiling.
In Noah Baumbach's first (and still best) feature, "Kicking and Screaming" (which isn't the Will Ferrell soccer movie), a group of friends graduate college and spend the rest of the movie doing very little else with their lives. One pines after his absent girlfriend, some join book clubs just to feel relevant, and pretty much everyone starts dating much younger women. The majority of hope is felt in remembering good things that happened in the past. It'd all be depressing, if not for Baumbach's extremely clever script and great performances from Josh Hamilton (who isn't the baseball player) and especially Chris Eigeman.

The Hawks have effectively graduated from promising young playoff team to postseason mainstay, but in doing so they've seen their trajectory flatten considerably. They're really not building towards anything anymore -- it's all cool Josh Smith dunks, 25-point games from Joe Johnson, and quality all-around play from Al Horford in the service of another middling seed and a less-than-stellar playoff series.

No comments: