Saturday, December 24, 2011

SB Nation: Ziller: Previewing the Southeast Division

Tom Ziller predicts no playoffs for the Hawks:
The Hawks are the team in the NBA least likely to earn a repeat trip to the playoffs. Atlanta was the East's No. 5 seed last season and even knocked out the Magic in the first round. But that was largely smoke and mirrors. Atlanta had a negative efficiency differential, which means that based on scoring margin, the Hawks were a below-.500 team. The Hawks won a good share of close games, but when they lost, they usually got blown out of the gym. By slaying Orlando, Larry Drew showed himself to be a pretty good coach. But so long as Joe Johnson plays like he did last season -- average, basically -- this team's backcourt just isn't good enough to ensure another postseason bid. Al Horford and Josh Smith can only do so much.


Bronnt said...

I just don't see it. I think this is a sixth place team at worst. Joe Johnson might have had a down year last year, but it's too early for him to be seriously declining to the point that he's lost his jumpshot. I'd expect a rebound in his shooting efficiency numbers, back toward his career averages. When I worried about his value against the value of his contract, it wasn't the first three years that were a big problem-it was the last three years of that deal.

Additionally, if you relace every minute played by Mike Bibby with minutes played Jeff Teague, that's another slight boost. When Hinrich is healthy, I think this is a better team 1-8 than the Hawks were last year, and that's without my hopes that Marvin's defense returns to form, and that a slimmer Josh Smith is a more active Josh Smith.

But I AM hearing this kind of prediction from many different corners-is my optimism clouding my view?

Bret LaGree said...

Obviously, a significant injury could derail a team this reliant on its starters but, in working on my season prediction post, it became abundantly clear that it will be difficult to miss the playoffs in the East.

None of Charlotte, Cleveland, or Toronto are trying to win this year. Detroit and Washington are almost certainly not going to be good.

So it's 10 teams for 8 spots and I'm not certain that anybody besides Miami and Chicago will be really good.