A sort of pick-me-up for Hawks fans by ESPN's John Hollinger, but one that still leaves me seeing darkness rather than light.
Help me, O Great Positive Thinking readers, you're my only hope!
After last night's Game 6 stinker, another in the long line of elimination games (check out Hoopinion's fantastic wrap up...the post-mortem I couldn't stomach writing last night), Hollinger offers Hawks fans an optimistic outlook in the form of a thousand word pick me up to Hawks fans who no doubt have encountered endless reminders of how much Game 6 stunk.
Throughout his piece, Hollinger never once uses his beloved statistics to back up why the Hawks fans' should take solace in next season, or any of the finanically challenged seasonal roads that lay ahead, and perhaps that should be a telling observation on the article as a whole.
John does discuss the emergence of Jeff Teague and that Larry Drew learned to love him....a love didn't even last too long in Game 6 and in parts of the series, to be noted. In fact, even though Hollinger correctly notes the defensive potential of a Teague/Hinrich backcourt, there is no track record to suggest that Drew would trust Teague yet--or for how long, as I noted yesterday.
Hollinger also notes the growth of Drew on the bench, though the pesky benching of Horford with 2 fouls in the first half reared its head a couple of times in the playoffs, including Game 6.
So there's Teague and Drew aaaaand...that's about it. Wait, no, there's a mention of Al Horford's All-NBA season, with the caveat that his production dropped off in the second half of the season and that Drew believes his footwork needs to improve to make him more effective in the post, which Hollinger calls his technique "mechanical".
So Jeff Teague's emergence and the learning experiences of Larry Drew during his first year on the bench, as well as the nationally recognized but still-work-to-be-done play of Horford are the reasons to be excited. Ok, sounds good.
Hollinger then lists all the work the Hawks have to do:
Work remains, however. Atlanta also could use another scorer to defer attention from the iso-heavy attack of guards Johnson and Crawford, which the Bulls sent the kitchen sink at after the two combined to shred Chicago's vaunted defense in the opener.
"After Game 1, they made me and Joe's life a living hell," Crawford said.
Crawford's tenure with the team is up in the air, too. Technically, Atlanta can sign him to an extension until June 30, but it appears he'll become an unrestricted free agent. His departure would leave a void in bench scoring. Atlanta also needs another body in the frontcourt to upgrade the Josh Powell-Hilton Armstrong-Etan Thomas flotsam that lingered at the end of the bench and ideally would pick up a floor-spacing forward for the second unit.
Atlanta has no first-round pick and limited cap space; the luxury tax, depending on the new collective bargaining agreement, is another potential obstacle. Finally, the Hawks likely will shop disappointing forward Marvin Williams, who finished his season with a thud by playing 15 scoreless minutes.
Well now. That's quite the fly in the soup there. So other than having no money, no picks, and needing a scorer and a new big man, as well as unloading a disappointing forward due 25 million over the next three years, not much else to worry about, eh?
I must be looking at too many negatives. Perhaps John is right...maybe there are happy days ahead and this season wasn't the peak (or the beginning of the other side of the mountain). I might be wrong when I think that they loaded everything into this season (the Joe Johnson re-signing, trading two first rounders for Kirk Hinrich). Maybe I'll learn to embrace that positive philosophy as we get closer to the new season and further away from the sting of a significant home let down. I'd like to think so.
Until then, though, Hollinger's words ring as those that enjoyed the performance of the Amazing Alexander. "It was much better than Cats, I want to see it again and again."