Recently, Ball Don't Lie has listed the top NBA players by position and Peachtree Hoops has made note of how our Hawks players rank. It is interesting to know that the Atlanta Hawks are one of seven teams to have 3 top ten players according to position on its roster. The L.A. Lakers (Bryant, Bynum, Gasol), Chicago (Rose, Boozer, Noah), San Antonio (Duncan, Ginobli, Parker), Denver (Carmelo, Billups, Nene), Utah (Williams, Jefferson, Kirlenko), Boston (Rondo, Pierce, Garnett) and of course Miami (Wade, James, Bosh) all boast lineups with 3 top ten players. However, my personal opinion allows for only five teams with legit top ten talent. Denver and Utah deserves an asterik with Nene and Kirlenko being borderline.
The Hawks players that made the top ten by position are Horford (#4 Center), Johnson (#4 Shooting Guard), and Smoov (#7 Power Forward). And if you noticed, that's two top 5 players. Only the Lakers and the Heat have more than one top 5 players, and which both have 3). This is the Core. This is the Hawks version of the Big 3. And they are pretty darn good.
This is the season that the growth over the past 6 or 7 years will culminate into elite status. Horford has yet to see his best years. Horford should be the Captain and the vocal leader of this team now. He has earned it. Smoov has shown that he is willing to harness and tame his world class athletic ability and potential. He has learned how to play, so now all he has to do is play and that will prove to be danger for any opposing team. Joe is Joe. Sure the consensus is that the Hawks overpaid but if anything else had transpired, we would be talking about the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Atlanta Hawks in the same sentence. For years, Johnson carried this team and without Johnson, the Hawks would not have seen anything that looked like close to a 2nd round.
Are they good enough?
I think so... But the best teams don't just rely on its best players alone. The best teams have defined roles and role players who fit the mold and when put together around the core and in a winning system, elite/championship status is reached. So now it comes down to Larry Drew and whether his new system is a winning system that defines roles and allows role players to flourish. It comes down to the play of Zaza, Teague, Jamal (if he is still a Hawk), Marvin, Bibby, Evans, Joe Crawford, Collins, Sy, and Etan (hopefully).