NBA / Oct 2, 2009 / 9:00 am

Atlanta Hawks ’09-10 NBA season preview

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The NBA preseason is underway, meaning it’s time again for Dime’s team-by-team season previews. Last year we debuted the “Highs and Lows” system — predicting the respective ceilings and basements for each team. In other words, what is the realistic best-case and worst-case scenario for the 2009-10 campaign?

Added: Jamal Crawford, Joe Smith, Jeff Teague, Juan Dixon, Courtney Sims

Lost: Flip Murray, Solomon Jones, Acie Law IV, Speedy Claxton

Ceiling: 2nd round; homecourt in the 1st
Josh Smith claims he spent the summer working on his jumper and his decision-making. If the second part of that is true, hopefully he’ll decide to take less jumpers. The sooner Smith figures out he’s at his best working closer to the rim, the sooner he’ll reach All-Star status. J-Smoove and Al Horford make for an undersized 4-5 tandem, but they’re strong enough, long enough, quick enough and tough enough to make up for the height disadvantage. What they need more than anything is to stay healthy: neither they nor small forward Marvin Williams cracked 70 games last season. On the positive side of consistency, you can pencil in Joe Johnson for his 20-22 points and some combination of 9-10 assists and boards. Depth had been a glaring weakness for Atlanta in recent years, but this year the bench looks solid. Jamal Crawford is an instant Sixth Man of the Year contender, and first-round pick Jeff Teague gives starting PG Mike Bibby a backup with fresh legs (unlike Speedy Claxton) and potential to be the impact player Acie Law never was. Joe Smith strengthens the second unit up front with backup center Zaza Pachulia and SF Mo Evans, and reigning D-League MVP Courtney Sims has a chance to make the roster and contribute. Bibby’s steady floor leadership and clutch shooting will keep the Hawks in plenty of close games, while Johnson takes his shots at winning them.

Basement: 1st-round exit via sweep
After going one round farther in the ’09 postseason than they did in ’08, the Hawks may have hit their peak as presently constructed. A top-four seed in the East is a reasonable goal, but top-three is a stretch, and knocking off one of the Cavs/Celtics/Magic triad in Round 2 is a pipe dream. The Hawks folded up like a chair against Cleveland in the conference semis, getting outworked inside, out-shot outside, and outclassed by LeBron all over the place. Johnson’s inability to respond in that series put his abilities as a legit franchise player in question, but he is in a contract year and could be on a mission to prove himself. Durability is another key, especially in the frontcourt. The Hawks have too much talent and, as young as they are still, too much experience to miss the playoffs in the East. But at the same time, they have just enough red flags to exit quickly and quietly.

*** *** ***

9/30 — Sacramento Kings
9/29 — New Jersey Nets
9/28 — Denver Nuggets

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  • rocky lobs

    jamal drops 50 off of the bench. joe gets vexed?

  • Kobeef

    This is a make or break year for JJ. If he has another playoff performance like last year there is no way the hawks can sign him to a max deal.

    JJ was flat out average in the playoffs. There were moments when Flip Murray replaced him as the go to guy…which is not something you should say about your franchise player.

  • http://Realtalk.com Izzymello88

    The Celtics & Magic players are known for injuries to key players(kevin garnett, Rasheed Wallace & Jameer Nelson,Vince Carter). So i think this could be the year that the hawks get past the Cavs & make it to the Nba Finals.

    I mean come on, we have depth at every position. The Veterans know the system. The head coach & Star player are in contract years. Everything is in place & if we dont win this year my days of being an hawks fan is OVER.

  • Chaos

    Unfortuantely i dont thinl JJ can lead a team o the chip. i can see him playing beside a dominant player but him as the #1 guy, nope, dont see it

  • Dr.Googles

    I like JJ i just wish he would be more of a agressive player..i was really hoping he would transform into that aggressive player once he got out of that supporting cast role in phoenix..

    ..BTW nash got owned in that pic.

  • http://dime fan

    The Achilles heel of this team is Mike Bibby. He is steady like a Blake/Duhon/M.Williams/Kidd caliber of a player. They win games not chips at this stage in their carreer. You can’t do everything on your own. B.Roy and JJ are asked to score,guard the best players,Make plays for other and score clutch baskets with no help it 2 much. JSmoove is blossoming. The only way he develops into a legitimate All Star. Is to become a basketball player. Meaning making the simple basketball and hittin open jumpshots. If he doesn’t take them he’ll get charges all over the place. Marvin Williams was definitely better in college. He hasn’t lived up to his pick. I’d rather Rudy Gay/G.Wallace. This team is built to win but not the Gusto.
    Add Chris Paul or Deron and they go all the way. PG’s are a dime a dozen. Horford and Aldride are the games 2 best young PF’s. Who would have know. Great picks. I didn’t see it. Horford is on his way to becoming an all-star. I would have went with Sundiata Gaines over Juan Dixon. My opinion and hopefully you’ll see why soon. Joe Smith is a great pick up. Courtney Sims is worst than Aaron Gray. That’s how bad & political the D-League his. HE did what where? LOL. Do it in the league. I saw you at Michigan. Softer than Kleenex tissue for babies. Worse than Jelani Mccoy w/o the extra yelling. LOL
    Teague I think is going to be a better pro alike to Aaron Brooks. Crawford is stud hoping this is his breakout year. He’s been scoring 40+ since he came into the league. Chicago… Za Za is steady. It’s all up to Mike Woods to take them to the next level. They’re def. capable of upsetting either the Magic or Celtics. I’d definitely start Bibby & Crawford. Flip Murray is going to be missed though. 3rd or 4th slot. Xfactors are Bibby and Horford. They’re Healthy this team goes far. You knwo what your getting with the others. Smith reminds me of Odom on offense. Sometimes they look great and other times. Bad. If Odom/Smith play well on both sides of the floor their teams are very hard to beat. Anthony Randolph is very similar in intangibles he brings to the game. Extremely versatile at that height. They literally play 4-5 positions well.

  • BRUCE

    JJ ain’t ghetto enough. He is not a vocal leader. WTF? A quiet black guy?

    This is the year, Jamal Anderson will experience the post-season for the FIRST time in his career!

  • kevin k

    Hawks aren’t going anywhere with the idiot coach they have on the bench…. I swear you watch their offense, is that of a middle school rec league level…

  • doc

    KG got hurt once now hes known for being injured?Where do these cats like izzy come from?Well kiss your Hawk fan days goodbye because if you really think they getting to the chip you either retarded or Joe Johnson’s son.When that dickhead of a franchise picked Marvin Williams over,CP3 or D Will they fucked themselves.

  • http://astrokidz.blogspot.com T.J.

    doc kys kid jus kys.

    I think our ceiling would be ECF. It’s not like its impossible for us to beat any of the Big 3 teams with the roster we have now. I think we can seriously make a run to get that 3rd seed. Its a distant dream but possible none the less.

  • Diego

    Ceiling is too low, and basement may be too high.

    Re. basement, Hawks like always have a brutal road schedule for about their first 10-15 games. They survive that and they finish 4 like last year. They take a beating early on in that schedule and confidence plummets (like several prior years), injuries occur and other teams reach their potiential–Wiz, Toronto, Philly, etc., Hawks could barely miss 8th seed.

    On the otherhand re. ceiling, Cavs could implode with Shaq, or either KG, Pierce or Ray (just any one of them) gets hurt, and Hawks could beat them and make ECF (but no farther)–IF magically matched up against them in playoffs. Note: Hawks stocked up on big men (basically, to get fouls) and also will not have injuries they had last year against Cleveland. That Cleveland series was pathetic BS that won’t be repeated.

    I don’t seen anyone coming out of the East over Orlando. And, unfortunately, Orlando (1) vs. Hawks (4) = Hawks exit.

  • Diego

    Love that crack on J-Smoove improving his decision making to decide to take less jumpers!

  • sh!tfaced

    lol@doc

    the hawks’ front office decision making is prolly in the same level as josh smith’s.

  • http://nbainstl.blogspot.com strength

    Hawks won’t be better than a 6th seed this season. Other than Al Horford and Mike Bibby I don’t think there’s a player that cares about getting out the first round.

  • http://www.ajc.com/hawks Ariose

    We added Jason Collins not Juan Dixon…..and Coutney Sims is just a Training Camp Ivitee…nothing is set in stone with him.

    Y’all keep knocking Josh Smith if ou want too. He’s gon emarass your team this season….just watch.

  • http://www.ajc.com/hawks Ariose

    Diego, Thsts halsrious! Hawks=SouthEastern Division Champs

    Vice is a ballhog, he doesn’t have the playmaking abilities of Hedu. Also, Lewis is out for the first 10 games….not good. Hawks went 6-0 to start last seaaon w/injuries and a roster thats not nearly as loaded as the one we have now. If the Magic stumble out of the gate, they won’t be able to catch my Hawks.

  • http://www.ajc.com/hawks Ariose

    Hawks also got a new scheme this season…

  • http://yahoo.com john grizz

    If u don’t know what ur talking about plz don’t talk carter missed like 2 games all of last season n 6 the year before actually 1 of the most reliable players far as playing through injuries so stop hating dude averaged 20 points 5 boards n 5 assist. Not to mention he was constantly double teamed last year due 2 the fact he was the only scoring threat other then harris

  • http://yahoo.com Joecool2

    all y’all that are dissing the hawks have a rude awakening coming…..the hawks are gonna be ridiculous this year. i predict they’ll win nearly 60 games and finish either second or third in the east….the reason why is because they have so much depth now. I’m telling you the hawks are going to be sick this year

  • http://dime fan

    The hawks need a fast tempo guard to push the pace. Mike D’ Antoni in Atlanta. Watch out now.