With the season fast approaching, much of the talk surrounding the Atlanta Hawks has focused on the signing of with former superstar turned journeyman Tracy McGrady and Jamal Crawford’s imminent exit, but the Hawks still have other issues to address.
Last year, Hawks head coach Larry Drew spent plenty of time talking about what he viewed as the biggest problem with the team—a lack of physicality. A first-round victory over the Orlando Magic and the big of all bigs, Dwight Howard, combined with a couple of solid second round performances might have temporarily distracted some from the Hawks frontcourt shortcomings.
Many of last year’s post-season successes, however, were a result of superb perimeter play. Joe Johnson’s consistency, Crawford’s offensive outbursts and Jeff Teague’s coming out party made the Hawks more competitive than a lot of people expected.
The Hawks no doubt looked better last year in the playoffs than in years past but it’s still hard to ignore Howard’s gaudy first round stat line—27 points and 15.5 rebounds per game.
The Hawks re-signing of Jason Collins and the addition of second round draft pick, Keith Benson, will keep the problem from getting immediately worse but the two will not make things much better for the team.
Atlanta experienced some success last year when starting Jason Collins at the center position while moving Al Horford over to power forward, a position Horford has been saying he prefers to play for years.
Realistically, It’s hard to imagine that a 33-year-old Collins, who turned in averages of two points and 2.1 rebounds per game, will have much of an impact this season. Also, Benson, who stands at 6-foot-11 and weighs in at 230 pounds, was not known as a bruiser in his time at Oakland University and it will be interesting to see how the soft-spoken forward/center will make the transition to the NBA.
Josh Smith enters the Hawks training camp slimmer than ever. Although Smith appears to be more focused and passionate this season, an even slimmer, undersized power forward might not be what the Hawks need right now. If the rumors of Smith being on the way out are true, Atlanta should use the opportunity to add size to their frontcourt.
In the meantime, the Hawks can look forward to the contributions of McGrady. Last season with Detroit he averaged eight points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game while playing only 23.4 minutes per contest. Many Hawks fans are hoping McGrady can show flashes of the old T-Mac that won two scoring titles, single-handedly fueled one of the most memorable comeback wins of all time and posterized the 7-foot-6 Shawn Bradley.
Ten-year veteran, Vladimir Radmanovic is also set to join the team. His 40.5 percent shooting from deep last year was enough to rank 23rd amongst the league.