Posted by Neil Paine on October 18, 2010
Welcome to our 2010-11 NBA Blogosphere Previews, in which we contact the finest team bloggers on the web and ask them to contribute their thoughts on the squad they cover. What follows is their take, along with the team's depth chart (courtesy of ESPN.com), projected 2011 stats via our Simple Projection System, and polls where you get to have your say. Enjoy!
Coach: Larry Drew
Record: 53-29, Finished 2nd in NBA Southeast Division
Pythagorean W-L: 54-28 (6th of 30)
SRS: 4.44 (7th of 30) ▪ Pace Factor: 90.1 (27th of 30)
Offensive Rating: 111.9 (2nd of 30) ▪ Defensive Rating: 106.7 (13th of 30)
2011 Depth Chart (with 2010-11 projected per-36 minute stats ... yellow = newcomer)
2010-11 Blogger Outlook by Bret LaGree, hoopinionblog.com
New head coach Larry Drew has been presented quite a challenge by the Atlanta Hawks organization: improve on a 53-win regular season (and the record-setting second-round playoff sweep at the hands of the Orlando Magic) without the help of any significant additions to the roster. The Hawks continued their practice of overpaying for their own players this summer, signing 29-year-old Joe Johnson to a six-year, $123.7 million contract that puts the previous 3-year, $18 million deal for then 31-year-old Mike Bibby and the 5-year, $37.5 million deal for Marvin Williams, the team’s fifth- or sixth-option offensively, in chilling perspective but probably won’t seriously hinder the team on the court for a couple of years.
The appeal of Drew to the organization is his commitment to changing how those same players play. He’s promised to ditch Mike Woodson’s isolation-heavy offense for a motion attack and to no longer have Josh Smith and Al Horford switch every ball-screen to cover for the guards’ inability to stay in front of opponents. Both changes should make the Hawks less predictable but it’s unclear if either can make the Hawks better. Woodson’s tactics lacked nuance but were an honest attempt to address real weaknesses, weaknesses that remain in his absence. The Hawks still lack a proven, competent defender in the backcourt and, bad as the team’s offense was against two good defenses in the playoffs, the combination of a league-low turnover rate and excellent offensive rebounding made it the league’s second-most efficient offense during the regular season.
With very little invested in Drew (just 2 years and $2.5 million of his contract is guaranteed), it remains to be seen how much patience the organization will show the rookie head coach should his tactical makeover suffer growing pains and/or the players resist changes to a playing style that was, for the most part, successful over the last two seasons.