Atlanta Hawks 2010-2011 Team Preview

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Atlanta Hawks 2010-2011 Team Preview
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Hawks come into the season as one of the few teams that did not make drastic changes to their roster. They did however make a change, as Larry Drew will take over as head coach to try and lead the young Hawks to their fourth straight playoff appearance.

Larry Drew was a trusted assistant of Mike Woodson and will also look to install his new motion offense, which will allow for a lot of ball movement enabling more players to get touches.

The Hawks boast a very solid starting unit, all of which return from last season. They also have major offensive firepower off the bench in Jamal Crawford (reigning Sixth Man of the Year) and up and coming PG Jeff Teague and rookie slasher Jordan Crawford.

The Hawks are very thin upfront with the only additions coming in signing Etan Thomas and a resigned Jason Collins as tough anchors to pair with rugged Zaza Pachulia and the raw play of Josh Powell off the bench. That means that Al Horford and Josh Smith will again be counted on to play big minutes up front and contribute heavily if the Hawks are going to repeat last season’s success.

The main question marks will be how well Crawford fits into the offense, as he desperately wants a new contract extension and will be looking for shots in the offense. Also, how will the limited bench fare during the season against deeper teams in the league?

Although the Hawks will make the playoffs again this season, look for them to take a small step backwards this season, as many teams in the East have gotten better (Bucks, Knicks, Heat) and with the lack of stars off the bench, you may see another early exit come playoff time for first-year coach Larry Drew and the Hawks.

 

Starting Lineup

PG Mike Bibby: Bibby returns after numerous rumors of an off season departure and will look to again be a leader for the young team. Bibby is a very good outside shooter for a point guard (39 percent last season) and always looks to get his teammates involved.

However, Bibby is a limited defender due to age and limited quickness. Bibby will look to stay healthy this season with Crawford and Teague looking for major minutes off the bench as well as his role at PG.

SG Joe Johnson: Johnson had his fourth straight All-Star season last year and will look to take control of the offense once again. Johnson is a very gifted all-around player who excels in scoring (21.3 points per game last season), but will look to get his teammates involved often as well (led team in assists per game last season with 4.9).

His max contract at $119 million over six seasons hopefully will encourage Johnson to step up even more this season after his dismal showing in last year's playoffs. His play is contingent with the Hawks' success.

SF Marvin Williams: Williams was often injured before last season in which he played every game. Williams took a step backwards with the arrival of Jamal Crawford, so he will look to improve those numbers and become better involved in the offense this season. He is finally healthy and looking to take his game to the next level.

PF Josh Smith: Smith is a freakish athlete who excels on the defensive side of the ball (1.6 blocks per game, 8.7 rebounds per game) and is improving his limited offensive game to more than just dunks as he set a career high in field goal percentage last season (51 percent) and will look to improve even more this season.

Smith is hungry for his first All-Star team selection, but must improve his offensive decision making and improve his jump shot in order to make it.

C Al Horford: Al is coming off a fantastic season in which he played out of position for the majority of the season at center, but again he will be counted on more this season to play at PF in Larry Drew’s motion offense. Al is a forceful rebounder (9.9 last season) and is a very capable scorer down low (14.2 points per game) who will look to build on those career-year numbers as he paces the Hawks into the playoffs again this season.

 

Bench

G Jamal Crawford: Crawford gets the nod off the bench again as he is the reigning Sixth Man of the Year. Crawford will see plenty of minutes off the bench this season, as he is looking for a heavy contract extension after his playoff performance against the Bucks. Crawford is a streaky shooter (36 percent) from three for his career who often has questionable shot selection, but he will look to improve those numbers and play himself into a starting role in the future.

G Jeff Teague: Teague is a sharpshooting second-year scorer who is more of a score-first type PG. He will get points on the board in a hurry, and when coupled with Crawford off the bench, he will look to supply perimeter firepower as instant offense. Teague will look for more minutes this season as he hopes to eventually overtake Bibby for the starting job.

G Jordan Crawford: Rookie guard out of Xavier who is an explosive scorer, who will look for quality spot minutes as Slasher/Scorer off the bench. Crawford was known for dunking on Lebron James at his own Skills Academy. He also put on quite a display offensively at Xavier with his array of moves getting to the basket to score. Crawford will learn the ropes this season with the thought of taking a major role next year.

G/F Maurice Evans: Evans turned out an average performance last season, although he displayed defensive skills as a key guard off the bench. Evans also shoots well from the outside (39 percent from three) and will look to play a similar role this season behind both Williams and Johnson, but will have to battle both Jordan and Jamal Crawford for key minutes.

G Pape Sy: Sy is a rookie who many thought would not come over to the NBA for a few more years, but was recently bought out of his French team contract. He is very raw on both offense and defense, but could look to gain spot minutes as he will certainly have to develop his game in the D League.

F/C Etan Thomas: Thomas is a rugged but experienced center/forward who can bang inside and provide quality leadership in the locker room.

F Josh Powell: A journeyman forward who displays good athletic ability rebounding the ball and uses his hustle to play spot minutes, but will see a increased role this season as he will be the second big man option behind Pachulia off the bench.

C Jason Collins: Collins was re-signed as insurance for the thin front line and will mainly be used in defensive situations, as he has very limited offense and will also be looked in the playoffs to provide six fouls for the upper tier of big men in the Eastern Conference.

Projected Finish: 50-32, Fifth place in the Eastern Conference.

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