I was a bit hesitant to write bad things about other teams. Karma is a bitch.
But I’m not writing bad things out of thin air. There are legitimate reasons I think the Atlanta Hawks won’t add up to much this year. I had bandied the idea of writing about the Milwaukee Bucks after they lost a great ex-Pistons, Khris Middleton (thanks Joe D) to a torn hamstring for at least 6 months and then signed Michael Beasley. Ouch. But I kinda sorta hope they still do okay and that fellow ex-Piston Greg "Moose" Monroe is part of that. I love that guy and wish him all the luck in the world.
I have no such loyalty to anyone on the Hawks and part of me still dislikes them from back when they battled the Bad Boys with Dominique Wilkins (who was PHENOMENAL, I still remember actually thinking he was pound for pound as good as Jordan. That being with my teenage brain of course, but he was incredible).
The main thing that got me to write this was an article I just read on ESPN about the Houston Rockets and how they were trying to right the ship this year.
Howard, Dwight Howard.
This is the guy the Hawks signed to replace the ever-steady Al Horford who signed with the Boston Celtics (who I desperately wanted to write this about but who I unfortunately think won’t suck this season, although I desperately hope they will win fewer games than us). This may fall to the wayside but this statement about Dwight is exactly the reason I see anything ever working with this guy on any team, especially when he is on the downside of his career, as fool’s gold.
He is a primadonna. An incredibly talented one for sure but that is what makes him so incredibly frustrating. He bullied his way to the Lakers with trepidation from fans, leaving a fired Stan Van Gundy in his wake (thank you for that buddy) and never clicked with what was potentially a championship team, a team that had what would be the last amazing edition of Kobe Bryant and the last gasps of Steve Nash. It was a shitshow of a season. He then moved to the Houston Rockets, with a promise of being paired with the rising sun James Harden and we all saw where that went.
Sorry Atlanta, this ain’t going to be pretty.
Besides the potential "Dwightmare" revisted, they traded Jeff Teague, former All Star who rightfully wasn’t a top-tier point guard but who fit the team first identity of coach Mike Budenholzer. In his place they are counting on Dennis Schroder to run the show. While talented he is a shoot-first PG whose shooting hasn’t actually been all that good. Can an unseasoned rookie in his role who isn’t known for looking for teammates deal with a center who is against popping out for the pick and roll and constantly demands being fed in the post to pound the ball (like he himself likes to do)?
Going down the depth chart they do have Paul Millsap who is very very good. But he did just go through a knee procedure and is missing training camp. Millsap is an awesome story of a low draft pick who has made good through steady hard work. It’s hard to bet against a guy like that.
A little less publicized than the Howard or Schroder things is the deal the Hawks gave to forward Kent Bazemore. 4 years, $70 million. While free agency was indeed nuts that is a lot to pay for what Bazemore has produced up until now. It kind of puts all of the league wide astonishment of Reggie Jackson’s deal into perspective. He’s a solid 3 and D player and should prove to be good but maybe not worth that amount of investment.
Kyle Korver is awesome. One of the best three point shooting players of all time. But he is 34 and his game seems to be in decline. I’m not worried about him as a contributor; his defense is solid and he will always be there to knock down shots but his game could see a marked decline, especially with a center demanding the ball in the post and a point guard who is reticent to do the things he needs to get open looks.
The bench is actually solid, if either unseasoned or a bit past their prime. They should actually get minutes out of Tiago Splitter after they signed him away from San Antonio (AKA the Spurs center that got away from the Pistons). Jarrett Jack is who he is at this point, a solid if unremarkable backup point guard who is also recovering from a torn ACL.
Kris Humphries is, other than the former husband of Kim Khardasian, the Kris most likely to be less known than Kris Dunn of the Timberwolves as the person in the NBA who spells his name like that. Mike Scott will show flashes but will forever be a guy whose name no one can remember even though it’s so easy. Tim Hardaway Jr so far has been a shadow of his pop and may well always be. Thabo Sefalosha is a decent backup but not a whole lot more. DeAndre Bembre is a good get but obviously unproven.
And OH SHIT!!! I just saw they have Will "the thrill" "Bynumite" "WAWB" Bynum on their squad?!
Wait, hold up...change everything.
They. Will. Be. Champions.
(I joke, but damn I loved that dude and hope he at least jumps Jack in the lineup)
For those new enough that they are unaware of Will Bynum watch this. Repeatedly. What a stuff indeed George.
After going through this write up I don’t expect this team to be bad, like 76’ers or Nets bad. I just don’t think they’re in the top of the East like they have been for years. If all goes well, and that means Dwight returning to dominance, Shroder killing it at PG, Bazemore becoming an elite 3 and D, Millsap and Korver at their best, they’re in the top 3 or 4. But if it all goes bad, eesh, good luck Peach Tree Hoops Nation, you’re sniffing the lottery for the first time in a long time.
Oh and, you’re welcome for us taking Smoove.