Playoff Postmortem: Atlanta Hawks

(image from
Is the 2nd round as good as it gets for the Hawks?
(image by the AP)

The Hawks had a good run this season. They finished 5th in the East, beat the fancied Orlando Magic in the 1st round of the playoffs, and gave Derrick Rose and his Bulls some anxious moments in the 2nd round.

Larry Drew will have to shake
things up to improve his team
(image by J. Meric/Getty Images)
The bad thing, though, is that might be as good as it gets for Larry Drew’s crew.

The Hawks have never advanced past the 2nd round of the playoffs ever since becoming part of the Eastern Conference. In fact, ATL can be judged as one of the perennially GOOD teams of the league.

Wait, good?

Yes. They’ve been a generally good team. Since moving to Atlanta, the team has made the playoffs 27 out of 43 seasons (63%). They’ve had a slew of great players like Dominique Wilkins, Dikembe Mutombo, Kevin Willis and Mookie Blaylock.

But that is also the problem. They’re just good. And when the chips begin to fall, good is never good enough.

So what’s in store for the Hawks when next season (lockout possibilities notwithstanding) rolls in?

A lot of good, but nothing great.

Unless they unload some underperformers and maybe reload in the spots they need. And that means perhaps letting some key pieces go for even better ones.

And the first to go? It’d have to be Marvin Williams.

This guy made the All-Rookie 2nd Team in 2006 and is a match-up nightmare. He’s big, mobile, can post-up, can penetrate, can shoot. He should be a beast. But, as was seen this past season and in the playoffs, he is far from that. Not even close.

And one could say it’s because he plays behind Al Horford and Josh Smith, which is valid, but his per minute stats aren’t anything to celebrate too. The bottomline is Atlanta can do better than someone like him coming off the bench.

The next to go? Jamal Crawford. Am I kidding? Did I see what he did to Orlando?

Yes, but did you see what he did to Chicago? Or, more appropriately, what Chicago did to him?


Crawford is the NBA’s version of a journeyman desperado. A hired gun. He’s talented. He can shoot the lights out. He can get it done in spurts, but he’s not for the long haul. At least not for these Hawks. If they keep him, he’ll make another run at the 6th Man of the Year plum, but he’s not the panacea to Atlanta’s postseason ills.

Trading Josh Smith could prove to be
1 step back, 2 steps forward.
(image by J. Meric/Getty Images)
And the last one is (drum roll here) Josh Smith. Yes. The hometown kid. The guy who did so well against Chicago for a few games, but whose jumper repeatedly clanged off the rim in the other ones. He’s a big part of Atlanta’s success, or, in other words, their “middling” success. He’s versatile. He can finish the break better than most. He’s a defensive demon. These all make him great – great trade bait for someone who can lead the team.

Atlanta needs a player who can capture the imagination of the hometown folk. They need someone who’ll lead and not just chuck Js left and right. They need someone who’ll take them over the proverbial hump. And even if Larry Drew does get rid of the aforementioned threesome, they still have lots of great talent to go around.

Jeff Teague, Kirk Hinrich and Joe Johnson make a terrific back court trio. Zaza Pachulia and Jason Collins are two big bruising centers who can thwart even Dwight Howard. Al Horford will be better next season. It’s still a very good crew.

Drop Williams and Crawford for some cap room, and trade Smith for leader-quality-youth and the Hawks will be flying through clearer skies.

Al Horford must be more consistent next season
(image by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Joe Johnson is still ATL's #1 option
(image by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Due to his postseason play, Jeff Teague
might be next year's starting PG.
(image by the AP)

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