A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

NBA Fan Q&A – Atlanta Hawks

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With their ranking of #20 on the NBA Franchise Power Rankings, I asked Atlanta fans on RealGM.com how they felt about their team:

Q: Are you confident in the Hawks direction? If everything goes right, how does this team make the leap from the 2nd round to contention?

evildallas: Direction, nope not confident. Signings during 2009 summer were made on assumption team was close and just need kept together. 2010 playoffs showed different. 2010 resigning of Joe Johnson seemed to be based in fear rather than an appraisal of his worth. Traded 2 1st round picks to undo the 2009 Bibby resigning was deemed necessary because the team hadn’t given Jeff Teague a chance to either succeed or fail. Took an injury to show that we might have had a PG all along.

theatlfan: No idea. With the team in the final stages of being sold, we don’t really have a history to go on. I’d wager that the team will be sold before the season – the ASG wants out and I think the NBA will take Meruelo over allowing us to be put into lame duck ownership purgatory until the next guy comes along. I haven’t seen too much in terms of direction out of Meruelo except for the common sound bites that ever new owner makes and I want something more tangible before deciding which direction we’re going.

Q: How do you feel about Josh Smith’s future with the team? Would you have traded him for a lottery prospect in the 2011 draft, such as a C like Enes Kanter and Jonas Valanciunas or a PG like Kemba Walker and Jimmer Fredette?

evildallas: Not strong unless ownership changes. I feel his contract will be up for renewal with too financial much uncertainty ahead. I would have considered a trade for Kanter because of low post offensive potential, but not for a PG (not those 2).

theatlfan: He’ll be here through the end of his contract. I can’t see anyone giving us what it’d take to pry him away. He’ll do what he does which is supply a maddeningly inconsistent game where he can take over games for stretches and then completely disappear until then and then jump into the market.
I would have traded him for either Kanter or Valanciunas, but I really like both of their upsides. I would have swallowed harder before pulling the trigger on Valanciunas (staying in Europe next year, longer way to go), but I would have still done it if the other parts of the deal weren’t prohibitive. I wouldn’t have pulled the trigger on either of the PG’s though – don’t see the position as a huge need nor do I particularly like either player fitting in on the court with our team without major adjustments to their game.

Q: Let’s say the Orlando Magic call you and offer Jameer Nelson, J.J. Redick, Daniel Orton and their 2012 1st for Joe Johnson, and the Golden State Warriors call you and offer Monta Ellis for Josh Smith. Which of these deals do you take and why? (both is an option) If you chose both, does your answer change if only one deal or the other is offered?

evildallas: I take the Orlando deal in a heartbeat. I refuse the Warriors offer. Joe Johnson will likely have a great year bouncing back from last year’s weak performance, but long term I don’t have faith in him to maintain it. More importantly I’m not sure how well he shares the ball with an actual PG. We need the PG (presumably Teague) to push the pace and get better opportunities for Josh and Al. It’s imperative to improve the teams fortunes. Those pieces aren’t great, but they allow us to start fixing our roster. The Warriors deal fails for me because while Monta is exciting and scores, he’s a big injury risk and I think it leaves the team too small.

theatlfan: Wouldn’t bother with GSW at all. I like Ellis, but I really don’t know what he’ll do if he’s pulled out of his comfort level in GSW. I’d prefer to see if he has the same value after playing under Mark Jackson for a year (sorry, but I just don’t see Keith Smart as someone with a personality big enough to get him to change much) before I’d put much more than a low ball offer on the table for him.
Without knowing the direction of the new owner, the ORL deal is trickier. A new owner wouldn’t want to come in and immediately ship the team’s best player for some mediocre to slightly above veterans and some OK prospects – the marketing consequences of such a move could be a total disaster. Still, the cap consequences of JJ’s contract will continue to get bigger as we go along and the would inhibit the new owner from putting his stamp on the team. I know our current GM liked Orton in the draft and another 1st rounder never hurts. I think we’d pull the trigger, but I don’t think it’s the slam dunk that many outsiders would think.

Q: Is Marvin Williams a) A replacement level, massively overpaid player, b) A good utility player every team would like to have, but perhaps at a cheaper price, or c) An underrated gem who’s biggest problem is not having oppurtunity and touches

evildallas: It wasn’t Marvin’s fault he got drafted #2 overall, just like it wasn’t Shelden Williams fault he got picked #5. What is Marvin’s fault is his lack of aggression and his lack of drive. While Josh Smith makes tangible changes in his game each summer, Marvin gets closer to his degree while regressing on the court. I’ve got nothing against education, but work at least as hard at earning your 8M salary. His role in the starting lineup is small because he defers and we’ve not given the ball to a creator PG. It’s too small for his salary. Unfortunately he bristled when moved to the bench, failing to recognize or seize the opportunity to play a greater role with the second unit. He could be a glue guy with another team, but given his drive he deserves league minimum. He’s capable of playing a big role if someone could reach him and upgrade his ambition, but he’s been well-paid to do little meaning a midlife epiphany is a long shot.

theatlfan: Somewhere between a) and b) although he isn’t what I’d think of as a utility guy. He’s an average to below starting SF and any hope of him playing another position left me long ago. Overpaid, yes, but you shouldn’t really compare him to absolute steals of a deal that we see at the position either. If your team doesn’t have any decent option at SF, then he can give you minutes without embarrassing you, but I wouldn’t think he’s someone a team would make a run at as a key component to a championship (current or future) team.

Q: If you had to rank the players on their team by how much you’d ask for them in a trade, or value to you, what would be your list?

evildallas: Our best player is Josh Smith (in terms of ceiling), but he’s among the most frustrating as well which makes Al Horford be the piece I ask for the most for. Right now it would take a really good offer for me to part with either. I’m open to moving Joe Johnson and I’d take almost anything for Marvin Williams. I doubt that I would get an offer for Teague or Pachulia that would match their value to the Hawks. Hinrich is an expiring contract and I’d move him in the right deal, but given our ownership questions that might not be an option. Realistically outside of Hinrich the rest of the roster might be the wrong time to deal either due to poor last season or too much contract left.

theatlfan: I’d have to put Horford 1st since his team friendly contract runs his prime. Smoove would be 2nd to Horford, but it’s a tight race and if they actually had similar contracts then I might take Smith. I’d also have to list Teague as 3rd because of the rookie contract and signs of progress at the end of last season. We’d need a package to bowl us over to consider trading those top 3 guys. After that, I’d list out JJ, Hinrich, then Zaza as being guys who we’d trade as long as the package coming back would make us better. We wouldn’t need to be bowled over, but we’d be asking for more than a useless expiring too. I’ve discussed JJ’s situation in terms of a new owner above (owners are businessmen who want to make $$, sometimes making $$ is more about marketing than product), so I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s actually #1 though. Anyone else on the roster can be had for little to nothing.

Q: Predict the Hawks record this year if we had played 82 games

evildallas: 50-32 based on Joe Johnson having a bounce back year before sliding into 20M+ year declining burden.

theatlfan: I’ll go with 52-30 and a 2nd round exit in the playoffs. The regular season record will go up – if for no other reasons than our coach will have some more experience and Teague/Hinrich will provide more D than Bibby did. I can’t see us getting any further in the playoffs until we can get a few more parts though.

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Written by jr.

November 11, 2011 at 12:45 pm

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