CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 03: Josh Smith #5 of the Atlanta Hawks reacts on the bench during a game against the Chicago Bulls at the United Center on January 3, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Hawks 76-74. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Hawk Str8Talk is back with the Honesty Corner!!! Yes, we're back and it's time to provide our signature weekly article about our fair Hawks. Since everyone and their mama wants to do a game recap these days (and none do it better than Peachtree Hoops), it's up to me to say what everyone says they want, but aren't always ready to hear (as in don't tell your significant other how they really look in those jeans). So, it's time to read the disclaimer below and then, let's go....
Disclaimer: As always, all criticisms come after blaming the Atlanta Spirit Group first, management second, and then coaches and players last. Those criticisms come through the prism of winning championships (or the things that result in championship team building).
Truth 1. Jeff Teague is the #1 key to this season (like he was last season).
Everyone knows that I created the Jeff Teague Fan Club, then built a bus with my blog boo, CoCo, and we rode around town for a full year getting eggs and bird droppings all over it before we finally started getting the rest of the Hawk fans to jump onboard. The bus is now on blocks because it's too many folks claiming how much they love Jeff Teague and why he should have been starting since he was at Wake Forest. It's so bad that former Peachtree Hoops blogger, Drew, retired after being so famously wrong about Mike Bibby's value to the Hawks (or at least that's how I recall it). And yet, it's still true that the Hawks will not be a factor in the playoffs in a point guard driven league without Jeff Teague being a major cog on this team. He can potentially be the 3rd most important player for this team (yes, I believe he can mean more than Al Horford) and he's already pushing to be the difference between another uninspired run through the playoffs or serving notice that the Hawks should be respected like the rest of the Eastern Conference contenders.
Truth 2. Larry Drew doesn't trust Marvin Williams to close basketball games.
Has Marvin done anything to not trust him to be a great contributor throughout the game. I could have missed that, but the lack of faith is puzzling since Marvin has played better than I've ever seen. This is evidenced by how quickly Marvin is pulled and how long it takes to get him back in the game. His 4th quarter minutes are uh...lacking. Last year, that was acceptable (desirable even), but this isn't last year. This year, he has showed that he actually could make a mockery of my 3 year plea to make him our 6th man. The sample size is small, but so far - Marvin Williams and crunch time minutes are not a mix.
Truth 3. If the bench gets any better, it's time to trade Kirk Hinrich.
This is probably a good time to mention that Jamal Crawford is not going to be missed. Watching players who can do more than just hit baskets will be a welcome sight and I honestly believe that by All Star weekend - we'll wonder why we ever fell in love Jamal. The bench so far is much more versatile and complete early this season. McGrady has been great. Zaza has been steady. V-Rad has shown flashes. Pargo and Green can't get any worse (on knees praying), so there's room for growth. We could even see if Donald Sloan or Ivan Johnson actually have reason to be played this season. And if that's the case, Kirk Hinrich (like Jamal Crawford) makes too much money to keep him, so it's much more valuable to the franchise to either trade him for a big man or for a cheaper alternative and draft picks in what is projected to be the deepest draft in the last 5 years. So, that we're clear - I like Kirk Hinrich, but if you aren't going to go over the luxury tax, then every player must be evaluated based on their production to salary ratio and he makes too much to be a backup. C'mon bench - show Kirk the door.
Pains me to say this, but Josh is our most talented player and yet, he's playing worse than I've ever seen him. It's like his basketball IQ has regressed on the offensive end more than ever. More jump shots, more dribbling on the break. It's just maddening, but what's just as maddening is watching Al Horford turn into Chuck Hayes on the offensive end of the court. Short of running past centers - I am not sure if we're watching the same games, but Horford has just become a really solid guy who we all want to be some sort of star. Calling him an All Star just inflates our expectations of Al, but in reality - expecting him to put up a 20-10 when it's needed is becoming a fading pipe dream. As I said while watching him tonight, if you have Ronnie Brewer on your hip and you can't take him into the paint and abuse him, then PROBLEMA, Senor Horford! I know Bret at Hoopinion is his #1 fan and strident proponent of his being the best the Hawks have to offer, but even accounting for his all around abilities - I don't see anything more than a taller, better version of Chuck Hayes. And that's not what I signed up for...
Truth 5. Nobody turns a fast break into a jump shot like the Hawks.
I'm not sure if I'm the only person who sees this as a problem, but I can't for the life of me fathom why we shoot jump shots on at least half of our transition opportunities. I mean if you're passing them to Ray Allen, fine. To Kevin Martin or Stephen Curry or any dead eye shooter, okey dokey! But I think we all know that there's no one we're trusting with a stop and pop, so can we just increase the odds of the layup or at a minimum the foul and show why running is a good thing for this squad.
(Not to mention telling Jeff to just start taking the ball from Josh and Al when they start dribbling on a break and I do mean take..like steal the ball from them until the message is clear).
And with that note, that's this week's 5 Truths....agree or disagree if you must, but if it's the Honesty Corner, then it can't be lies. See you in the comments...