Atlanta Hawks: 30-52
Key player performance:
Joe Johnson: Joe played the best regular season performance in his career as of the moment, and history points to him only getting better next year; much like he has each year in an increasing rate. He averaged over 30 points in the first few games of the season leading the Hawks to a 9-4 start. Supposedly one of the elite scorers as of the present, Joe was sidelined midway through the season and played in only 57 games.
Josh Smith: "Growing up before our very eyes" was the phrase most commonly used to describe the young Josh Smith last season, and why wouldn't it be? Smith showed flashes of dominance by scoring over 20 points and grabbing over 15 rebounds and swatting some 5 shots in some games late in the season. Although he is erratic in game concentration (fumbling inbound passes) and good decision making (shot selection), and he can't hit long-range shots to save his life; it was nonetheless an overall improvement for Josh. Although he is referred to by some as a "jerk".
Marvin Williams: Although Marvin Williams is a "bust", considering the fact of how high he was selected in the draft and as compared to the others who were selected after him (namely Deron Williams and Chris Paul), Marvin Williams is OK. Come on, that draft class was weak as hell save for picks #3 and #4. As a consolation for selecting a "bust", the Hawks found themselves a solid forward like any other solid forward in the league. Score some, rebound some, and puts up a decent 1-on-1 defense, and nothing more; although his turnovers were a killer.
The Hawks started out pretty fast going 9-4 in their first 13 games, highlighted by a 4-game winning streak that had everybody jumping out of their seats in surprise of the young Atlanta Hawks. However, it was a landslide from there and the Hawks found themselves way down low once again. The Hawks were too young, and they lacked a few pieces. Of course, a season-ending injury in the middle of the season to their rising-star Joe Johnson didn't help at all, although they were pretty much deep in the hole anyway by that time. The Hawks found it difficult to actually get anything done, relying heavily on plays that began at the perimeter; mainly because they worked with a "point guard" in Speedy Claxton and a much referred to as a "poor-man's Brad Miller" in Zaza Pachulia. Tyronn Lue is available, but he's only as much as a kick-in-the-nuts from the bench. The Hawks have had a void in the PG and C positions for quite some time now, and it's about time that it has been addressed after a continuous roll of poor player transactions (Pau Gasol for Shareef Abdur-Rahim, nice going). Overall, the core of the Atlanta Hawks team is very young but don't count them out as they showed vast improvement this year compared to the preceding seasons.
The Atlanta Hawks are FINALLY draft winners. The higher gamble would have been to take Conley with the 3rd pick and a second-rate center with the 11th, but the Atlanta Hawks decided to take the safe route: Taking the "dominant big man" route by selecting Al Horford at 3rd, and selecting the second best point guard in the draft, Acie Law, at 11th (mainly because there aren't really many good point guards in the draft). However, the "best point guard" in the draft is still debatable between Law and Conley, with Conley receiving the edge for going further in the NCAA Tournament and playing with nuts of steel. The Atlanta Hawks have finally addressed the two main voids in their roster: A center and a point guard. Although time may be the only one that can tell if Al Horford can indeed bang bodies with the biggest of them, Acie Law could be a shoo-in for boosting the Atlanta Hawks. Acie Law is often compared to the "awesome" Sam Cassell, and his play in the NCAA Tournament shows he is a proven scorer.
Atlanta is entering a new era of Hawks basketball, symbolized by the new Atlanta Hawks jerseys. With the Atlanta Hawks' lineup finally intact, look for them to boost their regular season performance. Making the playoffs is still questionable with two of their potential-starters still rookies, but improvement nonetheless is an expectation. The Atlanta Hawks are a very very young team, being led by 26-year old Joe Johnson, so look for them to make their mark as one of the East's elite within the next 2 or 3 years. The future of the Hawks franchise is bright.
Potential starting line-up:
C - Al Horford
PF - Marvin Williams
SF - Josh Smith
SG - Joe Johnson
PG - Acie Law
Next season will be like testing the waters, but the playoffs is not an impossibility.
Full Court NBA Blog will be reviewing the teams of the NBA, how they fared last season, and what is expected of them next season with the current off-season moves that have taken place. Feel free to e-mail your thoughts and suggestions regarding any team at any time.