The 2008-2009 Atlanta Hawks were a success.
Anybody who tells you otherwise is either too ignorant, or is a local native who frequently attends the ATL's downtown clubs "on that reefer."
Despite their very dismal and pretty lazy postseason performance, the Hawks have nothing to hang their hats on.
With the talent distribution they had, Atlanta wasn't going to enter the Eastern Conference Finals anyhow.
The Atlanta Hawks had three logical goals coming into the season.
-Make it to the postseason again.
-Enter the postseason with at least homecourt within the first round.
-Advance to the second round during the postseason, and try to do some damage.
Nobody could have expected anything more from these guys.
Joe Johnson further established his ability to carry his team at times during the season. Josh Smith showcased his limitless athletic potential in ways that actually helped his team (Not all the time, but a huge improvement from years past).
Zaza Pachulia and the often-blamed Marvin Williams contributed more than decently during the season. Al Horford easily developed into the player Atlanta can build their franchise around, while Mike Bibby's performance will most likely keep him around for one more season (Unless Atlanta desperately desires Raymond Felton, who looks to be a very nice fit with the Hawks).
In other words, a transitional team built for the future lived up to their potential for this season.
These guys are only fragments of what they will become, as I believe the Hawks will have a similar run to the 2004-2007 Phoenix Suns within their coming prime (with better postseason success).
The Atlanta Hawks will change faces, but they are nowhere near as radical as some believe.
I suspect Horford to explode fast, as his 12 PPG and 9 RPG will easily double within the next two seasons. Not everybody can mature like King James, as evidenced by Josh Smith.
Although Smith is a late bloomer, he is clearly the second franchise player behind Horford. Smith's postseason numbers were great, which were nearly identical to those of Rashard Lewis.
Smith just needs to focus on his shot selection and mental maturity.
The Hawks also need too keep Zaza Pachulia, Maurice Evans, and Flip Murray. These guys are absolutely vital, as they will save the Hawks from any tremendous rebuilding that some believe is necessary.
Unfortunately for Joe Johnson, his time is all but done with Atlanta. Unlike Josh Smith, Johnson has exercised all his potential. Johnson is arguably the best second tier player as of now, but he simply doesn't fit with Atlanta's future plans.
The Hawks could reasonably base the team around Horford and Johnson, but Josh Smith has much more talent and lasting value for the franchise. Smith's numbers were better than Johnson's in the postseason, which is alarming when Smith is still not within his prime.
The only piece the Hawks desperately need is a point guard who is either young, or player who is already established and within his prime.
Once again, Atlanta needs to look long and hard at possibly acquiring Raymond Felton for the upcoming season.
The Hawks don't necessarily need a superstar guard, like Billups. They just need someone who can run in transition, efficiently pass, and have better than Bibby defense.
However if all that doesn't work out, they could use Joe Johnson as trade bait to bring in another Mr. Big Shot.
There is no other team within the NBA that has more potential for growth than these Hawks.
The future looks bright, starting next season.