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Meet the Atlanta Hawks

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Doc Rivers has said that athletic teams like Atlanta and Washington give Boston trouble. And he's right. With that in mind doesn't this roster beg Mike Woodson to play Mike Bibby, Joe Johnson, Marvin Williams, Josh Smith and Al Horford at the same time and try to run the Celtics off the court?  Realistically that won't happen. And after going through the roster player by player I'm not sure how the Hawks can win this series. I like everyone of those aforementioned players to varying degrees. But after that only Josh Childress impresses me. Let's hope the Celtics take care of business. On to the Hawks...

Mike Bibby - Ever since he entered the league 9 spots ahead of Paul Pierce in the 1998 NBA draft one thing has been clear - Bibby can shoot. And if game 5 of the 2002 Western Conference Finals is any indication he wants the big shot and can hit it. Of course we all know how it went from there. The Lakers won the next two, the Kings got older, Peja was traded, Webber was traded, Vlade retired, Bibby had a few injury plagued seasons and then the point guard from Arizona was sent to Atlanta. All of the sudden Bibby is a shooter with declining percentages and an awful defensive reputation. From a legacy stand point he needs to carry a young Hawks team against the highly favored Celtics.

Josh Childress - Josh Childress is one of those guys that catches me off guard in the sense that he's playing in his 4th NBA season. I did not see that coming. He is athletic, a solid foul shooter (79% on his career), capable of playing disruptive defense and gets bonus points for rocking the Afro. While his numbers are down from the career highs he set in points, rebounds and assists last season, that may be due to Childress averaging 7 minutes less per game. Also his field goal percentage this season (57.2%) is outrageous for a guard/forward combo. Furthermore, Childress has averaged a respectable 11.1 points per game over the course of his career. Still would you take him over Luol Deng, Andre Iguodala, Al Jefferson, teammate Josh Smith and Kevin Martin? The Hawks did.

Speedy Claxton - I remember him as a solid back up on that 2003 San Antonio Spurs team that won it all. He also was part of the trade that sent Baron Davis to Golden State. Unfortunately for the Hawks Claxton has suffered through injuries during his time in Atlanta. He played 42 games last season. And this year he only suited up for 2 preseason games. Interestingly his first name is Craig. I just learned that.

Al Horford - By far the most successful Florida Gator to enter the NBA in the 2008 season. He averaged 10.2 points and 9.6 rebounds this season. He's like Joakim Noah with better numbers and fewer on the court theatrics. More importantly I fully expect Horford to average a double-double over the next decade. Part of that involves developing a more reliable post game. Still as is his performance helps ease the blow of the Hawks' last three top picks - Shelden Williams, Marvin Williams and Josh Childress. Although to be fair 16 teams did pass on Josh Smith. Finally for what it's worth he seems to be a good guy, as he escaped a villain reputation after that hard foul on T.J. Ford. Rightfully so I may add. That was an accident. But if Kenyon Martin had done it...

Joe Johnson - Originally drafted by Boston back in 2001, he played in 48 games (started 33) before being sent to Phoenix in the Tony Delk/Rodney Rogers deal. It is a testament to how poorly everyone in the Celtics organization evaluated Johnson and Kedrick Brown. Within 2 years Brown was traded to Cleveland amidst subtle alcohol concerns, which Brown vehemently denies to this day, and Johnson was starting 77 games for the Suns. Go figure. Of course from there Johnson busted his face during the 05' playoffs and then made it very clear that he no longer wanted anything to do with Phoenix. He ended up with a big deal in Atlanta where the Hawks repeatedly refused to get him a good point guard, forcing him to play the position at times. Much like Bibby he can straight out score. However, Johnson is more versatile on offense, better at getting his own shot and not a liability on defense. All in all he is the type of franchise player a fan base can live with even if he is a step level below the elite.

Solomon Jones - To be honest I'm not entirely familiar with his game. But he is a power forward/center type, which the Hawks covet. That and athletic swingmen. The organization despises true 5s. I'll just say that it is never good when a guy's field goal% and minutes drop while his DNPs rise during his sophomore campaign.

Acie Law IV - Let the record show that I was a big Law fan circa last year around this time as the 2007 NBA draft approached. Some injuries and 25+ DNPs later I'm not so sure. Damn you Hollinger! I just haven't followed him enough to speak too in depth about his game at the professional level. Can we all simply agree that he was a joy to watch at Texas A&M? I will continue to root for him, just not in this series.

Zaza Pachulia - Zaza does not exactly instill fear in opposing teams. The Hawks either recognize that or have simply gotten better. Regardless his minutes per game have steadily declined over the last 3 seasons (31.4, 28.1, 14.9). Blame Horford I guess. Interestingly Pachulia did play with KG's cousin Shammond Williams on the Georgia national team. I learned that about a week ago and still haven't fully processed it.

Jeremy Richardson - His alma mater, Delta State, is by far the most fake sounding university I've come across in a while. Shades of Tech U from He Got Game, minus the porn star threesome. And to be honest I haven't heard too much about Richardson. Having said that I admire his work ethic. He was originally drafted into the D-League in 2006. In the two seasons since then he has lit up the D-League and spent time in Atlanta, Memphis, Portland, Miami (preseason) and San Antonio. He just won't quit.

Josh Smith - He will block your shot and dunk on you. In fact he sometimes does both in a matter of seconds if you can keep up with him enough to get posterized after the block. Seriously this is outrageous. Meanwhile, it is Smith's fourth season and he won't turn 24 until December. What's not to like? Well his outside shot in general and his three point shot in particular. Also he has been suspended for conduct towards his coach. In fact we saw a little bit of that behavior last week when the Celtics defeated the Hawks. Let's just say Smith isn't crazy about being subbed for. But that underlies a central point about the Hawks. The organization famously messed up recent drafts, can't decide if it wants to fire the coach, has not resigned Smith yet and does so many things wrong. I'm not excusing Smith's behavior. But even Joakim Noah was a "problem" in a dysfunctional organization this season. And by most accounts he just wants to win. I'm just saying dysfunction breeds dysfunction. In closing I'll be happy if Smith is jacking up shots from deep. Ultimately he is one of the few guys in the League that has the size, length, athleticism and quickness to guard KG.

Salim Stoudamire - From an outsider's perspective he is an enigma wrapped in a riddle. Lute Olsen is on the record as saying Stoudamire is a better shooter than J.J. Reddick, based upon their college careers. However, Stoudamire is better known as a streak shooter and a head case. In fact Olsen's biography, Lute! devotes a seemingly disproportionate amount of time to Stoudamire's time as a Wildcat when you consider all of the guys that have come out of Arizona. Whatever you think of Stoudamire there is no denying that he shot an abysmal 34.6% from the field this season, only played in 33 games and averaged just under 11 minutes when he did see time.

Mario West - He signed with the Hawks after not hearing his name called in the 2007 NBA draft. Atlanta was most likely intrigued by his commitment to hustle, defensive efforts and athleticism (2007 College Dunk Champion). He knows a thing or two about the DNP (several in April alone) and averages right around 4 minutes per game.

Marvin Williams - In his third NBA season Williams is starting to come into his own as a player. He is solid from the field (46%) and the line (80%) and does not exacerbate his troubles from deep by chucking threes on a regular basis (1-10 this season). On top of that he usually pulls off a few "How the hell did he do that?" moves per game, solely because of his athleticism. Having said all that, no look at Williams is complete without looking at the guys drafted after him. Now to be fair I don't remember Chris Paul getting as much buzz in 2005 as people seem to think he did. Put it this way, no one was saying he'd be a bona fide MVP candidate in his third season. Meanwhile, Deron Williams did not exactly light it up during his first season and you could make the argument that he landed in the perfect spot. Furthermore, why does Milwaukee  get off the hook on this one? Andrew Bogut is not that good. Still Marvin Williams was far too raw for the Hawks to take that kind of gamble. Hey athleticism and size is a potent elixir. Secretly I would not be upset if the Celtics took another flier on Gerald Green, even if they know better than anyone how that would end. Just look at Chris Paul's work with Tyson Chandler. You think Josh Smith would throw down a few ally oops? Mix in Joe Johnson and I am intrigued. Alas. What's done is done.

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