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Hawks' Roster Analysis - Shooting Guard

Joe Johnson. This year is the coming out party for Joe Johnson. Anyone that watched the exciting playoff series with the Boston Celtics knows that Super Joe has the capability to take over a game. Johnson is on the cusp of rising from the very good player to All Star level. It is imperative that Coach Mike Woodson find someone else that can guard the other team’s best perimeter player. At the beginning of games and in certain situations, Joe should match up with the likes of Kobe, Ray Allen, etc. However, in the 4th quarter, Johnson does not need to kill himself guarding these guys. He needs to kill the other teams with his scoring and playmaking abilities. The additions of better perimeter players should make Johnson an even better player this year. Woodson is going to be able use a variety of line-ups with Johnson and Evans in the game at the same time. Woodson can even go small at times with four perimeter and Al Horford in the post.

Maurice Evans. Signing Maurice Evans is my favorite move of the Hawks’ off-season. I just like this guy’s floor presence. He started games last year for Los Angeles and Orlando; but he should play just as many minutes this year for Atlanta. His role should be the 6th Man role as the first player off the bench. For Coach Woodson, he brings versatility to the line up that was missing last year. Evans spaces the floor with his outside shooting. He probably will not get to the basket or the free throw line very often, but his shooting presence will keep help side defenders out of the driving lanes. He is an above average defender with a workman-like attitude. He also brings toughness to the Hawks that was lacking during the 2007-2008 regular season.

Ronald “Flip” Murray. I discussed Murray’s upside in my previous blog about the Hawks’ point guard situation. Murray can play either position. Coach Woodson will be able to pair him with JJ, Bibby, or Law. One of the most intriguing questions going into the regular season is what will the Hawks’ second unit look like. This season the roster is deep enough that Woodson should be able to rest the starters for stretches in the 2nd and 3rd quarters.

Mario West. At 6’5 and 210 pound, West has a reputation as a defensive stopper. Honestly, I am not sure what else he can do. He could mature into a Bruce Bowen type, but he is not a threat from 3 point range. He is kind of like a poor man’s Josh Childress without the ability to score. That probably is not going to be enough this season to see the floor. Baring injury to one of the other wing players, West’s contribution to the team is to push guys in practice.

Thomas Gardner. The 6’5 225 pound swingman from Missouri played in three games last November for the Chicago Bulls. In a game against Denver, he played 27 minutes and scored 14 points. In that game, the Bulls were down over 20 in the 3rd quarter, so they were garbage minutes, but Gardner can score. He should make the Hawks’ roster unless a decision is made between West and Gardner. West probably makes the team over Gardner, because the Hawks need someone on the perimeter to be a defensive stopper.

Prediction: I see Joe Johnson having a break out year for the Hawks. He might actually make the Eastern Conference All-Star roster without being a replacement for someone who is injured. Mike Woodson has much more flexibility with the addition of Maurice Evans. Evans and Johnson should be on the floor at the same time in the 4th quarter. Evans' outside shooting ability is going to be a huge bonus for the Hawks this season.


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