Words by Phlip
This could be the shortest post of this series…
The Atlanta Hawks will come in second in their division. The other teams in the division are the Heat, Bobcats, Magic and Wizards. Why the Wizards – whose arena I drove past 6 hours from home two weekends ago – are in the Southeastern Division and the Memphis Grizzlies are not is BAFFLING to me.
Anyway, on to the Atlanta Hawks.
Joe Johnson and his utterly ridiculous contract went to Brooklyn in exchange for several affordable pieces and a draft pick. Considering Iso Joe’s contributions offensively and what it had netted them in terms of success, this was a great move. What remains is a still-intact unit that has at least MADE the playoffs the last several seasons, even if they have not much advanced in them. The thing now is making sure they can keep Josh Smith happy and productive at the same time, all while keeping him AWAY from the 3-point line.
The last sentence of that last paragraph is one of the things that would make being a Hawks’ fan frustrating if I was one of those. This team lives and dies with Josh Smith, especially with Joe Johnson gone. Days he shows up and angry at something, he is a 20/15 threat and will defend 3 positions. The problem is that the days he shows up angry at something – or ANYTHING – seem to happen at the least opportune times and he turns in one of those games TERRIBLY belying his considerable physical abilities. A focused and mature Josh Smith is a perennial all-star and amazingly entertaining-to-watch player, but ESPN is quick to point out that a focused and mature Josh Smith is not guaranteed to show up every night, or remain for the whole of any night he does show.
The rest of the roster, specifically Jeff Teague – who is now playing to NOT be called “Marquis Teague’s brother” – Anthony Morrow, DeShawn Stevenson, Zaza Pachulia, Al Horford, Johan Petro et al are not a bad group of players. As mentioned at the outset, they have the benefit of playing in a weak division, so even on the very probable chance that they drop all 4 games to Miami this season, they will still place second in the division and enter the playoffs as a 5 or 6-seed… and immediately be eliminated in the first round.
The unfortunate reality for the Atlanta Hawks is that they are and have been as good as they are going to get. No one will be caught accusing them of contending for any championships. Sure, they will keep making the playoffs as long as the Eastern Conference is weak outside of the upper crust, but they do themselves best to do what they’ve been doing, and that is making their fans feel at home in Philip’s Arena and maintaining the electric atmosphere conveyed in televised games.
Words by Phlip