2010-11 NBA Preview: Atlanta Hawks Hover As 5th Seed

Jack JohnsonContributor ISeptember 17, 2010

ATLANTA - MAY 10:  Josh Smith #5 of the Atlanta Hawks waits to shoot a free throw against the Orlando Magic during Game Four of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2010 NBA Playoffs at Philips Arena on May 10, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  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 Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

2009-10: 53-29, 2nd  in the Southeast, 3rd in the East, beat Milwaukee in 7 games, lost to Orlando in 4

Coach: Larry Drew (1st year coach)

Projected Starting Lineup:

Point Guard: Mike Bibby

Shooting Guard: Joe Johnson

Shooting Forward: Marvin Williams

Power Forward: Josh Smith

Center: Al Horford

Key Bench Players:

Guards: Jamal Crawford

Center: Etan Thomas

Sleeper: Marvin Williams

Keys to Success: Great  bench play, adding another big man to compete for Eastern conference title.

Summary: In 2009  the Atlanta Hawks took that extra step and officially became contenders in the East. Sixth Man of the Year Jamal Crawford played great off the bench while Al Horford elevated his game in route to an All-Star appearance.

Atlanta’s off season has been criticized by many experts. The Hawks started the summer by firing head coach Mike Woodson, who led them to two straight playoff appearances. They also gave Joe Johnson a max contract, a deal considered to be one of the worst in NBA history.

An unhappy Jamal Crawford might also disrupt the locker room. Crawford reportedly requested a trade earlier this month.

Despite all the internal issues, the Hawks will still find themselves in the thick of things. Great backcourt play will win games in the East, but the lack of a legitimate inside presence will hurt the Hawks in the playoffs. The signing of Etan Thomas will help the weak frontline.

Despite having the 6th Man of the Year, Atlanta still has one of the weakest benches in the East. In order to make a deep run into the playoffs, they will need to add another big man.

Predictions: I predict the Hawks to finish 5th in the East. They didn’t get any better over the off season while teams in front of them did. I think they will lose to the Bulls, my 4th seed, in the first round of the playoffs.


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