Friday, September 25, 2009

Atlanta Hawks 09-10 Season Preview

SG Jamal Crawford (Trade)
PF Joe Smith (FA)
PG Jeff Teague (Draft)
C Jason Collins (FA)
C Courtney Sims (FA)

SG Flip Murray (FA)
C Solomon Jones (FA)
PG Acie Law (Trade)
PG Speedy Claxton (Trade)
SG Thomas Gardner (FA)

The Hawks are coming off a second round berth and have made the playoffs two consecutive seasons now. They had a great offseason as they re-signed all their key players and still managed to improve their bench a bit. Unfortunately they shouldn't expect better results (4th seed and a 2nd round loss) because the competition is so steep. Boston, Cleveland, and Orlando are all built to "win now" however, and there isn't a team in the east with a brigther future than Atlanta. Josh Smith is entering his age 24 season, while Horford and Marvin are entering their age 23 seasons. Three years from now those guys will be in the prime of their careers. KG/Pierce/Allen will be 36, 35, and 37 respectively. Vince Carter will be 35 and Rashard Lewis 33. Shaq will be 40 and Ilgauskas 37. So just because Atlanta isn't contending this season doesn't mean they have nothing to play for.

Mike Bibby (16.3 PER)
Jeff Teague (N/A)

Bibby is still an effective offensive player thanks to his excellent shooting skills and passing ability. Unfortunately he rarely drives to the basket, his man defense is perhaps the worst among starting PGs, and at 31 he could decline at any moment. Teague is a rookie and not a pure point, which gives him limited value on a team trying to get the most out of the 20 million owed to Jamal Crawford over the next two seasons (more on this in a moment). There is a severe lack of depth should anything happen to Bibby.

Grade: C

Joe Johnson (18.2 PER)
Jamal Crawford (15.1 PER)
Mario West (10.0 PER)

Johnson has not been the most efficient scorer the last two seasons (his mid-range game has fallen off ever since Bibby showed up), and I for one will be curious to see how he'll mesh with one of the league's most inefficient chuckers (Crawford). Crawford gets many of his looks from mid-range off the dribble, does not finish at the basket and he is not a strong 3pt threat. He is making about 9 million more dollars than Flip Murray will this season, for about the same production (and quite possibly a worse fit, since Murray's slashing game and defense better compliment Bibby and Johnson). Crawford's salary and playstyle likely ensure Joe Johnson's departure as a free agent in 2010 (my prediction: NY's consolation prize in the Bron/Wade chase).

Grade: B

Marvin Williams (16.0 PER)
Maurice Evans (11.1 PER)

A lot of people forget that Williams is only 23 years old. He should continue where he left off in 2009. Evans is an underrated backup who played in a team high 80 games (along with the departed and likewise underrated Flip Murray). JJ also should see extra time here in Bibby/Crawford/Johnson lineups.

Grade: C+

Josh Smith (17.2 PER)
Joe Smith (13.8 PER)
Othello Hunter (12.1 PER)

Josh Smith looks to rebound from a subpar season. He's only 24 so he still has plenty of potential. Joe Smith should be an upgrade from Solomon Jones on the bench.

Grade: B-

Al Horford (17.0 PER)
Zaza Pachulia (14.1 PER)
Courtney Sims (12.8 PER)
Jason Collins (3.3 PER)
Randolph Morris (1.8 PER)

Horford should continue to improve, and the Hawks will need him to do it if they have any hope of contending. Pachulia remains one of the better backups in the league thanks to his offensive rebounding ability. Collins is a downgrade from Solomon Jones at the C position, but hopefully the two guys in front of him stay healthy enough to limit his minutes. Courtney Sims has a decent chance of making the team as he is easily the D-League's top center and is certainly a better player than Randolph Morris has shown thus far.

Grade: C+


P-Flaw said...

You think the Hawks will keep 14 on the roster? Not sure if it is official yet for guys like Hunter & Sims.

Rashidi said...

West, Sims, and Hunter are all on training camp deals.

I think all three will make the team and if anything Randolph Morris will be getting the axe. Given his small expiring contract I'm sure they could get a late 2nd round pick out of some team, otherwise just waive him and cut your losses.