Running with Zaza

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As Hawks wait, the East blows by

As the Hawks and their fans wait for the two Joshes to resign with the team, other Eastern Conference teams are getting better and passing by the Hawks. Last Monday, the Hawks were a marginal playoff contender for 2008-2009. Today, they are on the outside of the playoff picture looking in as other teams make solid roster and coaching moves.

In the NBA Eastern Conference, there are 15 teams in 3 divisions. 8 of those teams make the playoffs. In 2008, the Atlanta Hawks earned a playoff berth with solid play down the stretch, but they still finished under .500 for the regular season. A healthy and productive full season from Mike Bibby will help, but this off season the Eastern landscape is rapidly changing. At least three teams are going to challenge Atlanta for that last playoff spot. The Heat and Bulls are better than the Hawks, and Charlotte will challenge for a playoff berth.

Charlotte definitely will resign Emeka Okafor. They added DJ Augustin who seems to playing very well in the Orlando Summer League. Possibly, the crazy mustache of Adam Morrison could make an appearance this year after losing last year to injury. The Bobcats’ roster is better, but the big improvement will come from Larry Brown. It usually takes a year for Brown to turn around a team, but look for him to get the Bobcats very close to .500 next year. Coach Brown travels around like a virus, but no one can argue that he does not make his team much better. The Bobcats will play harder and smarter next year.

Chicago drafted Derrick Rose and hired a new head coach Vinny Del Negro. Adding Derrick Rose gives the Bulls a bigger point guard with scary athleticism. Sure, Rose will have to learn on-the-job, but his quickness, size, and ability to penetrate into the lane are better than Kirk Heinrich. Playing off the ball could give Heinrich the chance to find his shooting stroke from the 2007 season. What style of play Del Negro and his coaches employ will be important for the Bulls. He has the players to run up and down like Phoenix and if Del Negro can mix in some defense the Bulls will be much improved. The Bulls still lack a proven inside scorer, but if they play a wide open style and try to out score teams in the East, the post game becomes less of a factor. The scary part for Atlanta fans is that the Bulls probably are not done making moves. They have tradable assets in Ben Gordon and Andres Nocioni.

The most improved team in the East next year will be the Miami Heat. The Heat are about to add Tyronn Lue to upgrade the point guard position. Michael Beasley is in the mix for a starting spot. They signed James Jones, a solid three point shooter to stretch the defense. It is possible that Alonzo Mourning could come back to give them some depth and energy off the bench. Dwayne Wade is back and healthy. If Wade attacks the basket like he did before the injury, he is clearly a top 5 player in the Eastern Conference. He is better than any player on the Hawks. The Heat have a new unproven coach in Eric Spoelstra, but he is not unknown to the players. Clearly, he must have a great relationship with Wade and in the NBA that is 80% of the battle. Spoelstra will bring passion and energy, but he probably is not a difference maker. The key is that Pat Riley hand-picked him and Riley will make every effort to make this Heat roster good enough for Spoelstra to succeed.

Resigning the Joshes seems like a fore gone conclusion for the Hawks. Still there is a conflict between Horford and Josh Smith playing the same position. No matter what anyone says J-Smooth is not a small forward. He cannot guard the ball or consistently make perimeter shots. If Rick Sund keeps the Joshes, there still are moves that can be made to improve the roster. Let’s hope that the waiting this month is not the hardest part, and the Hawks stay competitive in 2008-2009.


Post a Comment 1 comments:

the Internet nigger said...

resigning the joshes is all this team really needs to contend in the east, today, they are still one of the top 8 teams in the eastern conference

you're right about 1 thing, most of the eastern conference is making changes to improve this off-season, but only time will tell if teams who have made changes, especially coaching changes will actually improve or not.

the hawks finished under .500 for the season, but so 2 other eastern conference playoff teams, a full season of bibby is going to be great, but the biggest difference in the hawks will be the swagger, confidence realized in the first playoffs in 8 years for Atlanta, which will surely carry over to the next season with the newly resigned Joshes.

charlotte will improve with larry brown, but the team is too unstable to really challenge for the playoffs, raymond felton is the same as D.J. Augustine, jason richardson is good, but he probably wont improve much, esp. w/ LB, they might bump heads, gerald wallace lost a bit of his quickness, sharpness in that last concussion, okafor will be the deciding factor if they are even competitive, but right now its a test of them being competitive, not a playoff berth.

the chicago bulls are a mess being fixed. new head coach del negro new #1 pick PG derrick rose, but they still have issues with ben gordon, andres nocioni, kirk hinrich. if they start hinrich with rose they will not be a successful backcourt together, teams, especially the hawks with Joe Johnson, would DESTROY them on the offensive end, and the defense, they would have to run alright, run to try to sneak a basket real quick because they cannot even run a structured offense they way they are, unless they want to post up DREW GOODEN, TYRUS THOMAS or JOAKIM NOAH. its tough to guess the truth of how they'll do with their new coach, but its definetly a reach to say they are better than the hawks. at this point, bibby>rose, johnson>hughes, smith>>deng, and horford>>noah. oh, and he will have a chance to prove otherwise but until then mike woodson>>vinny del negro. case closed.

i disagree that the WORST TEAM IN THE LEAGUE miami heat are better than the hawks, how could u possibly think they are? yes, dwayne wade is a top 5 player in the NBA, but it takes a strong TEAM to win game-by-game, and this supposed 'injured' year he played just as many games he played in the previous season, 51. of course he is gonna come back remotivated and improved in his game, but who else will? Shawn Marion in a contract year? Micheal Beasley,A ROOKIE who hasn't proved ANYTHING yet, not even in summer league, if anything he proves he is not consistent, and the heat need more than just consistency from him if they wanna make the playoffs. alonzo mourning would have to START and avg a double-double for the heat to have a legit center, and did u say something about tyronne lue? are u forgetting that WE HAD HIM for 5 SEASONS, how could u think he is gonna make a big impact in miami, if anything he's a fool because he should have signed with the suns, and if they do sign him, he wont start and he wont be a difference-maker at all.james jones is good, but he's no all-star, and he's not gonna start, unless he plays to be the MIP i dont see him making a huge impact. quite frankly, there really is no reason how or why a person could think the heat are better than the hawks, they finished 15-67 dude, they got a new UNEXPERIENCED head coach, and they still got no bench, my guess is they will improve by about 10-15 wins, and play for the lotto next year. think about it man, has ANY TEAM EVER gone from 15-67 to making the playoffs? they would need KEVIN GARNETT to boston-turn them around.

in conclusion to responding to your post, you continue to prove your foolish hate on the hawks and josh smith by making the most opposite, untrue statement in your conclusion saying this:
"Still there is a conflict between Horford and Josh Smith playing the same position. No matter what anyone says J-Smooth is not a small forward. He cannot guard the ball or consistently make perimeter shots."
Josh SMITH is the best on-the-ball defender on the Hawks roster and possibly one of the best in the eastern conference. who guarded KG and KP the best in the playoffs, Big Al and J-Smoove. No matter how many times u say it, Josh Smith is a SMALL FORWARD, he may be slightly inconsistent with that jumpshot but he is one the best slasher, scorers in the east, and, again, he is undisputedly a great defender, so ur just gon have to accept that.

lets just hope resigning the joshes was the hardest part, and we can get a free agent or two just for fun, but as long as we got our core; Josh Smith, Joe Johnson, Al Horford, Josh Childress, Mike Bibby, Marvin Williams (i guess), Zaza Pachulia, Acie Law IV, Jeremy RIchardson, Mario West, give or take a few the Atlanta Hawks will guarenteed make the playoffs.

July 15, 2008 at 4:42 PM

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