In recent days, both Bronn and I have examined where and how Mike Woodson has helped develop, failed to develop, or been vindicated of not developing certain players. We may be reaching overkill on this subject when the fact stands that if you have not made up your mind on Mike Woodson then you are not really watching the games. If five years with the same coach can get you anything, it is firm, stubborn opinions on the coaching.
Still, I came upon an excellent article by Tom Ziller over at Fanhouse looking at how teams respond to dreadful seasons. Ziller looked at teams with 19 or fewer wins (hello, 04-05 Hawks) and examined the rate at which these teams improve. It should be noted getting to 19 or fewer wins is not common with every rebuilding process. Only five percent of all seasons even qualify.
Also, a team on average wins almost 29 games following their low point season (the Hawks won 26), and Ziller adds a final point that matches the Hawks progress from the 13 win debacle.
As you can see, most teams do not stick around the deep cellar for long: the average win total for teams following a 19-wins-or-less season is 26.9 wins. If you consider teams with records that fall between 38-44 and 44-38 to be average, then it takes (on average) sub 20-win teams only four years to get to that level. One team -- the Mavericks -- took some eight seasons to get from awful (11 wins in 1993) to better than .500 (53 wins in 2001). Every other sub 20-win team got there more quickly.
All this is to say, the Hawks rebuilding process is normal at best and slow at worst. Should Mike Woodson take more credit for being able to whether questionable coaching ability and keep his job or for not coaching the team to worst results than average rebuilding process?
In the end, I think it means three things. Mike Woodson has been adequate or average or whatever word you want to use as the Hawks head coach. Coaches don't really matter that much when you have middle of the pack skill and depth. And the Hawks have much bigger decisions to make as to how far this talent and skill can take the team when Joe Johnson and possibly Marvin Williams are unrestricted free agents in 2010 than they do with Mike Woodson and his unrestricted status the same year.