The Atlanta Hawks finally tipped off their 2011-2012 preseason schedule Monday night with a 79-77 loss to the Charlotte Bobcats at Time-Warner Arena. Essentially Larry Drew used this game as an open audition for the camp invitees who are all battling it out for one of the final roster spots. Every Hawks player besides Kirk Hinrich and Jason Collins played at least 11:46 in this game. Also consider that no one played more than Marvin Williams' 21:07. I am sure that Atlanta would like to have won the game but that was not the ultimate goal here.
Here are a few random observations about the players that we know will be a part of the Hawks going forward.
- The new slimmed down version of Josh Smith looked much quicker and even more explosive. He is going to cause a lot of problems for opposing defenders but I am still not completely sold on how he is going to defend the bigger power forwards. in the league. Smith finished 5-12 for 11 points and seven rebounds.
- Joe Johnson also appeared to be in great shape and looked slightly slimmer according to my eye test. Johnson finished 3-7 for six points but also had four rebounds and five assists including a nifty no-look pass to Josh Smith for a dunk on the Hawks first score.
- Tracy McGrady never really looked into the game much going 0-2 in just under 12 minutes of action. I guess when you have been in the league as long as he has it is hard to get excited for a preseason game.
- Zaza Pachulia didn't shoot the ball well going 2-7 but finished with eight points and six rebounds while going 4-4 from the free throw line. Pachulia was wearing a protective sleeve on his lower leg. Remember he suffered the lower leg injury while playing for Turkey this summer.
Now for the roster competition:
- Not sure if it means anything but Donald Sloan got the first crack at the point guard position replacing Teague late in the first quarter. Sloan finished 1-6 for three points with three assists and only one turnover. He struggled early keeping D.J. Augustin in front of him but seemed to settle down and did better as the game went along. I thought he did a pretty good job getting the Hawks into their sets.
- Brad Wanamaker also got point guard minutes finishing with three points and two turnovers. I am not sure that either he nor Sloan did enough to impress especially with the news that the Hawks have signed Jannero Pargo to a free agent contract.
- Jerry Stackhouse still looks the part but struggled going 0-3 from the field for two points.
- Of all the newcomers, I thought Ivan Johnson probably played the best. He played 17 minutes scoring four points and grabbing seven rebounds. He is my sentimental favorite after watching him play in the D-League last season but is more of a combo small forward/power forward. I don't see him sticking with the club.
- Keith Benson and Pape Sy gave about what I expected. Sy showed off his athleticism but struggled at times with his decision making. He had a nice chase down block late in the game but his jump shot is still a work in progress. Benson blocked three shots with his time on the floor.
Overall I saw enough good things from the regulars to feel positive although depth concerns may be more apparent. I was particularly encouraged by the ball movement and with Jeff Teague at the point guard, the Hawks wasted little time getting into their sets.
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