Well, they finally have a point guard.
After passing on Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Brandon Roy in the last two drafts, Atlanta finally got their man in Acie Law with the 11th pick. Law had a penchant for coming up big in big moments while at Texas A&M and his addition should end the Tyronn Lue-Speedy Claxton-Anthony Johnson carousel at the one.
The recipient of the bulk of Law’s passes will be to Joe Johnson. Johnson was one of only 12 players in the league last year to average 25 points per game or more and displayed the same kind of all-around game that Kobe Bryant possesses, witnessed by his 4.2 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game averages. Unfortunately, a calf injury limited Johnson to just 57 games and the Hawks finished the season with a record of 30-52 after starting off 4-1.
The puzzle seems to be coming together in A-Town however as the strong draft of Law and Al Horford (who many believed was the most NBA-ready prospect to come out this year) should mesh well with the young core of Josh Smith, Josh Childress, Zaza Pachulia, Marvin Williams and Joe Johnson.
The Hawks still have their work cut out for them. The Southeast Division is improved thanks to Rashard Lewis going to Orlando, Jason Richardson to Charlotte and Washington’s and Miami’s stars returning in full health.
While Law will likely be given the reigns to the squad, that doesn’t mean Claxton, Lue and Anthony Johnson should be sold for scrap. The trio combined to average 22.0 points, 5.3 rebounds and 11.0 assists last season and all three will contribute off the bench. At shooting guard, Joe Johnson played over 40 minutes per game last season and that isn’t going to change as he is their best player. Salim Stoudamire
gives them a shooter off the pine.
Zaza Pachulia is a better center than you think he is. No, really, he is. Pachulia’s points per game average has increased every year he’s been in the league (from 3.3 in ’03-04 to 12.2 last year) and he has a soft touch at the foul line (career 74.7 percent). At forward, Atlanta has a nice mix of athletic wings (the two Joshes – Childress and Smith), bruisers (Horford and Shelden Williams
) and the versatile Marvin Williams.
-- Dave McMenamin
Full season and partial plans for the 2007-2008 season are now on sale!
Nobody would argue with you if you called Josh Smith a freak of nature. In his three years in the league out of Oak Hill Academy he has wowed crowds with his dunks and blocks predicated on his leaping ability, but the question remains: Can he make THE LEAP?
Smith posted career highs in points, rebounds, assists, blocks and minutes played last year but, as the rhetorical question goes, if you have a big night in a losing effort, does it really make a sound? If Smith can make the same incremental increases in his game this season that he did in between each of his first three years in the league, then Atlanta could contend for a playoff spot in the East.
The Hawks were 7-3 last season in games where Smith scored 25 points or more and 4-13 in games where he scored 10 points or less.
-- Dave McMenamin
||Josh Smith blocked at least one shot in his last 53 games straight which is the longest current streak in the NBA.
What does a coach do with a capable point guard and athletic wings? Run! That's just what the Hawks' Mike Woodson intends to do. "To be successful this year, we're going to have to mix it up and play at a faster pace, without a doubt," Woodson told the Atlanta Journal Constitution
-- Dave McMenamin
KNOW YOUR HAWKS
Josh Childress was an all-league volleyball selection in high school.
Law should be the starter there before it's all said and done. But it will be interesting to see how he does defensively against the top-tier point guards.
They ran into problems because they thought they could play Joe Johnson at point guard when they brought him there. So, they didn't draft Paul or Deron Williams.
Johnson can flat out shoot it, so you want to make him put it on the floor.
Josh Smith has really emerged as a force, but you wonder about his psyche. He's got the type of talent where he could win a Defensive Player of the Year award in this league. He can guard four positions and he's phenomenal coming off the ball on the weak side.
They really need Marvin Williams to step up. As far as athletes go, when you look at Williams, Smith and Childress, it doesn't get much better than that. So, they pose some problems.
Pachulia is a decent center, but they really lack a down-low presence. And we don't know how effective Horford will be.
They'll win some games they're not supposed to, but they probably won't make much noise this year.
-- Eastern Conference Scout