This offseason, it seems like everyone, including Hawks fans, are beating up the team from Atlanta.
The consensus is that the signing of new head coach Larry Drew was awful. Writers have argued that the only reason the Hawks signed the former assistant coach was to save money by not hiring a big name.
They overlook the fact that Drew is close with the players on the team and knows the system well already.
The consensus is that the signing of Joe Johnson is one of the most awful deals made in NBA history. Writers have argued that he’ll be the highest paid player in the NBA when he’s 35 years old and no longer playing at the same level he does today.
They overlook the fact that Johnson is a great player and can lead the Hawks to the playoffs for the next few years.
The consensus is that the Hawks will fail to sign Shaquille O’Neal and secure a legendary center. Writers have argued that this is the latest failure in a long list of poor decisions by the inept Hawks management.
They overlook the fact that The Big Diesel is old and decrepit, can no longer play at the same level he used to, and is a divisive personality in the locker room.
I’m just as guilty about looking at the negative side of these things.
But it is important to look at the positives. And the Hawks have experienced two things that can only be looked at as positives.
These are the performances of the rookie guard Jordan Crawford and the second-year point guard Jeff Teague during the NBA Summer League.
Crawford and Teague have led the Hawks to a 3-2 record in the Summer League and have kept them close even in the losses.
Throughout the five game season, the Hawks’ two future rotation stalwarts have been impressive, both demonstrating their scoring prowess with numerous great plays and shots.
Jordan Crawford has looked like a carbon-copy replica of Jamal Crawford while demonstrating his ability to knock down shots and get to the bucket whenever he wants to. Teague has been the point guard that the Hawks envisioned when they drafted him, making nice passes to fellow players while knocking down the occasional big shot, like the deep three pointer he drained in the third quarter of the first game.
In his 32 minutes of play per game, the point guard from Wake Forest has shot 52 percent from the field en route to a stellar 15.6 points per game. He has also shot almost 88 percent from the charity stripe and dished out over four assists per game.
Importantly, Teague’s scoring has been remarkably consistent, with game totals of 16, 15, 13, 19, and 15.
Crawford, the Xavier product, has received one less minute per game and been more inefficient, shooting only 41.7 percent from the field and 85.7 percent from the free throw line. However, he has used his scoring abilities to post games of 16, 20, 12, 18, and 15 points for an average of 16.2 a game.
He also averaged 3.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1.8 steals per game.
The one thing that both players need to work on is cutting back on the turnovers. They each turned the ball over more than they dished it out to teammates for assists. That will come with time.
Most encouraging of all, both players have caused their team to play better. Teague’s plus/minus is a ridiculous plus 33, while Crawford’s is still good at plus 9.
Atlanta Hawks fans should take this Summer League as a very positive thing indeed and draw from it hope that the two young players will lead the team out of the darkness.
The Hawks may not be quite as mired in mediocrity as many believed after the Joe Johnson signing.