So, we are three weeks in and it's time for another dose of Truth - Str8Talk style, so let's go...
1. Josh's Poor Start Is A Blessing in Disguise – If you are in the camp that Josh Smith is either key to future Hawks prospects or is an inconsistent performer that must be moved, J-Smoove's start to the season couldn't have been scripted any better. Shooting 41.3% from the field, 20% from 3pt range, and shooting Chris Dudleyish (36.8%) from the FT line would normally be cause for concern, but we all know that Josh Smith when motivated and focused only on the things he can do well is a producer of All Star numbers. So, if you want to re-sign him at a reasonable cost - seeing him struggle is not all bad. Particularly if you want to bring him back to join other superstar talents. On the other hand, if the answer is to move him - it's certainly palatable that you could trade him without a hometown revolt when he's putting up numbers like this. Pick your medicine or poison. Your move, Sir Ferry?
2. Teague's Minutes Are A Problem – This has been a Hawk Str8Talk recurring theme since he was drafted. Teague needs more minutes - the most minutes a player on this team can reasonably expect, which is around at least 37MPG. To be considered the head of this team, to get us in the right sets, set the right tempo, and to close games - you have to play. There aren't any point guards on this team besides Jeff Teague (ignoring Devin Harris' contributions), so the fact that he's playing fewer minutes than DeShawn Stevenson and Kyle Korver is the height of resource mismanagement. If you want to point to why I don't trust Larry Drew as the coach of this team and the development of this team into a contender - call this Exhibit A.
3. Chemistry Is Under- and Over-Rated – Much has been said about the chemistry that the Hawks have and I'd like to say that I agree that the team has chemistry, but there are two forms of chemistry. The first is off the court chemistry and it matters. That's what these Hawks have. Do I like these people? Will I pull a gun on any of them for not paying their gambling debts? Yes, these are important things, but way overrated as it relates to winning a title. Kobe and Shaq didn't like each other, but won titles. Michael Jordan and Dennis Rodman didn't hang out, but had one of the best championship runs ever. It's on-court chemistry that wins titles and that cannot be generated with shuffling lineups and a lack of stability or identity. So, yes - I'm thrilled that the Hawks like each other. It looks like a team happy to be out from under the weight of a Joe Johnson-led attack, but it is not even close to a team that has jelled on the court. Can they get there? History doesn't suggest that it's likely. Rarely does such a vastly remodeled team come together in less than a season's time and there's nothing that suggests that that changes with this year's team.
4. The Season Will Be A Roller Coaster Ride – Now that said, I like roller coasters. The highs are high and the lows are just lulls that you use to prepare yourself for the next high, so you'll see some wins over NBA contenders and you'll see some losses to the Golden State Warriors. You'll see a 5 game win streak and then you'll see a 4 game losing streak. I haven't seen any sense that there is a plan outside of do what I can to win a basketball game, so the kind of progression you'd like to see in a team throughout a season with playoff aspirations is not likely, so Great American Scream Machine meet Atlanta Hawks Basketball.
5. The Hawks Are A Playoff Team – Here's the most important item to remember when we assess this team - there's talent on this team. Talent trumps chemistry and coaching as it relates to playoff hunts that include 8 teams. So, while it is not in the best long term interest of this team to be in the playoffs, this is a playoff team. The Hawks would have to lose at least 3 starters by injury or trade to make me entertain any possibility of this team not being able to make the playoffs, so print those playoff tickets of your 6th seed Atlanta Hawks. (Insert grimace here)
And that's the quintuple truth, Ruth.
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