Wages of Wins is an online journal written by economists that measure the wins produced by a player per 48 minutes. I would never claim to know the intricacies of the whole formula but so you know where I stand on their thesis, I will say I think like any formula, PER and the rest, it gives a very good idea of a player but never the whole idea.
Recently, they took up "Critiquing the plan in Atlanta" using the wages of win formula. As the off season has progressed, observers have noticed that the Hawks are largely standing pat and hope that internal development will be the main source of improvement. This has occurred over the last four seasons and the Hawks hope it continues to follow suit.
Wages of wins does not deny this but simply says even if the three most likely Hawks to improve (Al Horford, Josh Smith, and Marvin Williams) do so far beyond what seems likely (he randomly deems that number at a 50 percent improvement for each) it would mean as follows,
a 50% jump would result in 10.9 additional wins. Such a leap moves the Hawks from a 45 win team (that is what their efficiency differential said they should have won in 2008-09) to a 56 win team.Had this happened last season, the Hawks would have moved from the 4th seed in the Eastern Conference all the way to.... okay, the 4th seed.
The article concludes that if internal, enormous development cannot improve the Hawks to contend next year the Hawks really have no plan at all. Leaving Hawks fans with a final message that,
Yes, one can hope. But again, that's not really a plan.
Now I do not deny the improvement Wages gives Horford, Josh, and Marvin are very generous. Unrealistically so. Nor can I sit here and disprove simple math and say the Hawks would somehow be anything but the fourth seed.
However, this immediate leap to label the Hawks planless, to say a major piece must be added here or there or all is lost, is simply the lazy way of looking at the NBA. It is the normal way of course, but normal does not have a monopoly on anything.
Just because most bloggers and NBA writers (myself very much included) find it easier to write and speculate no further than two weeks out does not mean we should refuse to ever leave the immediate. The NBA, and even I dare say our culture, is ruled by the tyrant of now and it warps our thinking far too often.
The Hawks do not have a plan to win the championship next year unless as Wages points out injuries occur on other teams and miracles happen in Atlanta. But that does not mean they don't have a plan.
In three years, Josh Smith, Al Horford, and Marvin Williams will be 26 year old legit veterans. Jeff Teague will 24 with three years experience. Zaza will somehow, someway only turn 28. Joe Johnson? He will be the wily veteran at 31.
Is anyone predicting Boston's big three to still be dominating then? In Cleveland, LeBron James could be gone and Shaq and Zydrunas Ilgauskas certainly will be.Orlando will have 61 million in contracts possibly already locked up for that season and no shooting guard.
On top of that, yes, 56 wins would be an unbelievable and slightly ridiculous improvement next year. But what about in three years. Is that far fetched? Maybe not as far fetched as three teams in the same conference winning 59 or more games. In the three seasons before last, 56 wins would have put the Hawks third, first, and second in the east.
Of course, the what ifs remain for the Hawks. Teague has to become a legit starting point guard. Joe Johnson has to remain durable and relatively consistent. Horford, Marvin, and Josh would need to improve at least a little each year. And I would say the Hawks probably need a new coach. There are what ifs, but they are not crazy like say us stealing Pau Gasol from a team. Or as ridiculous as the ideas that Kevin Garnett will play in 20012-20013 at a level anywhere close to what he did in 2008.
Naturally, those big three teams will change and adapt and new teams will probably rise up that are not the Hawks, but no one is remaining constant. And those teams that do rise up or stay up probably are not winning 59 games every year.
The Hawks actually do have a plan. Like every other team in the league, it will require good fortune, and even with that luck, it may not be enough (Lakers last year, Cavs this year). But I like our team against any other in three years. In this day and age, that sounds ridiculous, but only one team can win every year. And it would count the same if it happened in four years as it would next June.