NBA / Sep 28, 2010 / 5:30 pm

Atlanta Hawks 2010-11 NBA Season Preview

As NBA training camps get underway, we preview the upcoming season with the “Highs and Lows” system — predicting the respective ceiling and basement for each team.

Added: Jordan Crawford, Josh Powell, Etan Thomas

Lost: Joe Smith, Randolph Morris, Mario West

Ceiling: Eastern Conference Finals
Before the 2010 free agency dust settled, did anybody predict Joe Johnson would be the guy with the fattest contract in his hands? While a lot of people think $120 million was too much, don’t downplay the fact that Johnson is an elite player in the League. Last season he averaged 21.3 points, 4.6 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game, solid across the board as usual, and was the featured player on a team that won 53 games; the most since Steve Smith, Dikembe Mutombo, Mookie Blaylock and Christian Laettner led the ’97 Hawks to 56 wins … Josh Smith (15.7 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 2.1 bpg, 1.6 spg) finished second in NBA Defensive Player of the Year voting and was one of the East’s notable All-Star snubs. He is the finisher when the Hawks run, and personally won them a few games with timely putbacks and big defensive plays. I ran into J-Smoove at the NBA 2K11 launch party last week, and he said one of his goals this year is to win DPOY … Al Horford (14.2 ppg, 9.9 rpg) made his All-Star debut, and may have been Atlanta’s MVP in their first-round playoff series win over Milwaukee. He’s also entering a contract year … The Hawks were 10th in the NBA in scoring defense and 9th in three-point percentage defense last season, and their D could get even better as Jeff Teague takes more of the point guard responsibilities from Mike Bibby. The second-year pro Teague is able to stay in front of opposing PG’s better than Bibby, which should cut down dribble-penetration and make things easier for the rest of the ATL defense.

Basement: 6th seed in the East
But how much will Bibby’s diminished role hurt the offense? Bibby’s greatest assets are his outside jumper and veteran savvy running the show; Teague is still learning the pro game and made just 21 percent of his threes last year … A constant issue with the Hawks is fighting stagnation on offense and remembering to share the ball. The team ranked 12th in the League in assists, but too many times in the playoffs they were stuck playing isolation basketball. When Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford are hitting, that’s fine. When they’re not, the Hawks struggle … Crawford is one of the primary ball-handlers, a go-to option in crunch time, and one of Atlanta’s few deep threats. He has to play well for them to threaten the upper echelon of the East, but he’s unhappy right now because the team hasn’t given the 30-year-old reigning Sixth Man of the Year a contract extension … After flirting with Shaq and some other 7-footers over the summer, the Hawks never got that true center to allow Horford to slide to power forward and Smith to small forward. In a conference where the road to a championship goes through Dwight Howard, Kevin Garnett, Shaq, Jermaine O’Neal, Amar’e Stoudemire, Andrew Bogut, Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah, having that extra size would have helped … New coach Larry Drew is entering his first year in charge of an NBA team. He was the “player’s pick” of a replacement for Mike Woodson, but we’ve seen those situations combust before … Even though they’re a relatively young group — the average age of Johnson, Smith, Horford, Crawford, Teague and Marvin Williams is 25.5 years old — you get the feeling that the Hawks have plateaued. With the East as top-heavy as it is with Miami, Orlando and Boston, can Atlanta go any higher than the 4th seed? Can they get any farther than the second round of the playoffs? Hawks announcer Dominique Wilkins must feel like he’s watching a replay of his career; the team being good, but not quite great.

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9/27 — Portland Trail Blazers

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  • https://twitter.com/PoppiGEE POPPI GEE

    Atlanta will be playoff food.

    Sidenote:

    @Dime you all should have a vote on what is a greater moment?

    Tracy’s 13 in 33 seconds or Tracy’s 62 points
    Reggie’s 8 – 11 seconds (i think that was)
    Kobe’s – 81 points
    Gil’s – 60 points
    LeBron – 24 consecutive points vs. Knicks
    Jorday – 6 threes in first half or 63 vs. Celtics

    I think you get the picture. I think it would be fun to debate which moment was the greatest with those moments and more.

  • IGP

    @ Gee

    Great idea bro.

  • Stunnaboy09

    ATL are going to be perennial 2nd round fodder. I love Al, but nowadays, unless you have 3 ALL-NBA players (well 2 and a half) you need a legit 7 footer on your team out East.

    I mean, this is the same team (with some rookies) that the Bucks WITHOUT Bogut took to 7 games. Or that Orlando gave the biggest butt whooping in NBA history. Every major team got better in the Eats cept them. I call 6-7 seed (Boston, Orlando, Chicago, Bucks, Heat all undoubtedly better)

    @GEE

    While majority would go with 81 (and I don’t blame them)I would go with 13 in 33. That was just amazing and to me, the GREATEST clutch performance in NBA history.

  • sh!tfaced

    good one, gee. don’t forget ray’s 8 threes…?

    though 81 and 60+ pts are quite rare, i’d rather have reggie’s and tracy’s. those were lost games that they turned into winners…

  • KnicksFan84

    I like idea too. Don’t forget to mention Charles Smith’s 8 Billion Blocked Layups in playoffs against Bulls

  • http://deleted dagwaller

    McGrady’s points were not that impressive.

    He made a last second 3, which was great. Another 3 in front Bowen’s face. Also great.

    Other than that, he had a standard drive and one of those bitch moves where he jumps into a guy that’s not even defending him properly (in this case, Tim Duncan) to “draw the foul” (again, a bitch move).

    Not that great. Two clutch 3s? Yes. All time great performance? Eh.

    Ditto LeBron’s achievement. Against a tight defensive team? I’d give it to him. Against the KNICKS?! The guy at the end of my block could give them 30. Eh.

    Oh, Kobe gave the Raptors 81? Loved it for my fantasy team at the time, but really, the Raps were the worst defensive team in the league at the time. Eh.

    Gil dropping that many points on Kobe? THAT’s where it starts to impress.

    Reggie, in the clutch, actually making defensive plays (T-Mac wouldn’t know that if it hit him in the face) and nailing clutch 3s? Jordan being Jordan? THOSE are the real accomplishments.

  • fLaVa

    Gee

    81 by kobe!

  • TripleDouble

    reggie’s… then kobe’s 81

  • jryu

    hahahaha i love how the hawks have become irrelevant IN THEIR OWN ARTICLE.

    atl born and raised, hawks hater for life.

  • jryu

    and in response to gee:

    i was watching mcgrady’s 13 as it happened. it was awesome no doubt and i could actually see popovich’s hair turning white on the spot.

    but i’d still have to give the nod to reggie miller or gil’s 60 (i’m a big fan) those were NASTY and even though he got switched on him a little too late, plenty of them were in kobe’s grill.

  • https://twitter.com/PoppiGEE POPPI GEE

    Ha Ha cool to all of you. I was hoping dimemag.com would turn it into an article so we all could get our debate on.

    Still for yall to put it down here on the Hawks forum (lol) is still cool.

    I think you probably gotta go Reggie. Only reason I say that is because it seem to have a longer lasting effect and all the other side things involved. Spike Lee, the rivalry, playoffs and how Reggie was so cocky during the process.

    The others were great, but, like Tracy’s was just that moment so were some of the others.

    Like when you see Jordan bust that jumper on Craig and Cleveland, that has had a very lasting effect on that franchise. So I would give Reggie the top moment for right now. Not to mention when ESPN goes and does a documentary on Reggie vs. The Knicks that kinda ups it too.

  • Joe’s Momma

    The Hawks need a legit starting center. Horford is really good, but he needs to play the 4. Which means JSmoove gotta go. His defense is most effective close to the basket, so him at the 3 would not allow him to block the 2 or so shots a game near the paint where the should come from. If he block 2 jump shots a game, that is not as valuable as blocking 2 layups/dunks.

    The Hawks biggest problem is that they were trying to fill their team out with tweener 3/4s and wing players. Now they are stuck. Next lottery pick they have I am guessing they will draft a 6’9″ 230 lbs forward, just a hunch.

    Bibby is old and his lack of defense is not longer overlooked because he is not as good offensively anymore to make up for it.

  • RLA 21

    First Reggie…Second Kobe 62 – Dallas Mavericks 61 end of 3rd quarter. That Mavs team went to the Finals, so they were a great team that year.