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Whats Up With The Atlanta Hawks?

photo via Jason DeCrow, AP
photo via Jason DeCrow, AP

Danny Ferry’s Genius

First off, there is a lot of credit to be given to Danny Ferry. Ferry was given the GM job during the 2012 offseason. When Ferry came aboard on the Hawks he immediately made an impact with the very controversial Joe Johnson trade, but it ended up working out in everyones favor.

Ferry traded Atlanta’s number 1 star, Joe Johnson, to the Brooklyn Nets for Jordan Farmar, Anthony Morrow, Jordan Williams, Johan Petro, DeShawn Stevenson , the Nets’ second round draft pick in 2017, and a 2013 first round draft pick from Houston.

This trade was huge for the NBA, the Nets, and the Hawks. It unloaded Johnsons’ six-year, $123.7 million contract and opened roster space, mostly by releasing Jordan Williams and Jordan Farmar, giving the Hawks a lot of flexibility.

Ferry made this move obviously so that the Hawks could make a move for Dwight Howard and maybe try to keep Josh Smith.

It ended up being for the better that Ferry could not lock in Josh Smith and Dwight Howard because Paul Millsap, Kyle Korver, Elton Brand, and DeMarre Carroll found their way to Atlanta. Josh Smith has proven to be a problem on the Detroit Pistons so there is no doubt in my mind he would continue causing problems in Atlanta.

Last year Mike Budenholzer was hired as the new head coach of the Atlanta Hawks. As an Atlanta Hawks fan this is when it was obvious that the Hawks had made a huge turnaround.

Mike Budenholzer 

Coach “Bud” was an assistant under Gregg Popovich in San Antonio for 18 seasons.

18 SEASONS?!?!?!! Under one of the best coaches of this decade…. That is how you know he has the ability to build a team.

Coach Popovich has a very interesting offense – he doesn’t a set scheme. He sets up his offense by fitting his players into his system, then designing the system around his players. The way the Spurs play now has almost nothing in common with how they played when Popovich started coaching 18 years ago. Coach Bud is doing a lot to help the Hawks transition from a poor/moderate NBA team to an apparent powerhouse in talent-poor Eastern Conference.

Offense

Sometimes in NBA basketball people say all you need are stars and good ball players in order to make an offense. In fact, many teams rarely call plays on offense and let the big playmakers make plays.

Yet, the Hawks don’t have big playmakers. And thats why Danny Ferry brought in Mike Budenholzer to create an effective offense scheme. Obviously Coach Bud took Popovichs’ offense with him. There are a lot of benefits to the way Popovich runs his defense.

Popovichs’ offense is very useful for doing things like:

  • Helping a highly-touted top pick become the greatest power forward of all-time (Duncan).
  • Turning a pair of talented foreigners into All-Star level guards (Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili).
  • Developing numerous young players into impactful starters (Stephen Jackson, Tiago Splitter, Kawhi Leonard)
  • Turning no-names and castoffs into contributors (Danny Green)

Popovich has made it easier for aging power forward Tim Duncan to be able to produce.

Bud has a very similar big man in Al Horford, Horford has suffered many injuries in his NBA campaign that has plagued his playing time, yet remains a top NBA center and one of the purest big men out there.

One fun, insane statistic that makes the Hawk look a lot better is that no player averages more than 12 shots a game. For example, LeBron James averages 18-19 shots a game.

 

Defense

Coach Bud for sure brought a great offensive system to Atlanta, but he and Danny Ferry knew what they were doing when they built this defense. Over the summer the Hawks signed lockdown defender Thabo Sefolosha and last summer Ferry brought DeMarre Carroll to Atlanta – both obvious moves to bolster the defense.

The Hawks already have a strong inside game with Al Horfords’ muscle and Paul Millsaps’ quickness. With Sefolosha and Carroll subbing in and out for each other they have the ability to keep one fresh and maintain defensive pressure.

The Hawks have a very strong bench, with Pero Antic and Adreian Payne inside and Shelvin Mack at point, and with Mike Scott and Dennis Schroder the Hawks have young talent and fresh legs at basically all times.

Camaraderie and Brotherhood

There have been many reports that Coach Bud actually cares for his players and as a Hawks fan I completely believe it. Coach Bud has made this group of players a unit.

When Al Horford was asked (by ESPN) about the authenticity of the camaraderie, he said this.

“The reason it’s authentic is that everyone has bought in,” Al Horford said. “We enjoy working with each other.”

This shows that the players rely on each other instead of putting all the pressure on one or 2 players that need to score all the points, get all the boards, and dish out all the assists. All the players feel like they are a piece of the puzzle that leads them to victory against both East and West teams.

End of Season Prediction

The Hawks are going to have a good season barring any setback (injuries, trades) but I’m not confident they have the talent to make it passed the second round in the playoffs.

The Hawks are gonna finish with a 52-30 type record and will have the 3rd or 4th seed in the East.

 

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