2009-10 Atlanta Hawks Season Preview
The Atlanta Hawks (47- 35) continue to improve under head coach Mark Woodson. Every year that Woodson has been at the helm, the team has won more games than it did the previous year. Last season, the Hawks notched10 more victories than they did the season prior. Since 2005, they have gone from 13 to 47 wins, that’s an average of more than eight wins per season! Last year, with almost no bench and the second-youngest team in the NBA, they got to the second round of the playoffs. This year, Atlanta looks primed to return to the post season.
Center Al Horford (11.5 PPG, 9.3 RPG, 2.4 APG, 1.42 BPG) may not be the most athletic player in the league but his work ethic has helped him become one of the better and more consistent frontcourt players in the game. Horford, now in his third season, can shoot, rebound and defend. Power forward Josh Smith (15.6 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 1.61 BPG, 1.32 SPG) and small forward Marvin Williams (13.9 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 1.3 APG) round out what is a very solid frontcourt. Smith can put in big dunks and defends well, while Williams developed as a three-point threat last season, hitting 36% of his attempts. Zaza Pachulia and Jason Collins give this group fine depth.
The backcourt is also deep and includes Mike Bibby (14.9 PPG, 5.0 APG, 1,24 SPG) at the point and Joe Johnson (21.4 PPG, 5.8 APG, 4.4 RPG, 1.06 SPG) as the shooter. Bibby is a solid veteran who holds the team together. Johnson is an all-around player who can hit from anywhere on the court. He may be the third-best shooting guard in the league with Bryant at number one and Wade at number two. Off the bench, Jamal Crawford (19.7 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 4.4 APG) is one of the top substitute scorers in the NBA.
Disciplined play is a huge asset that defines the Hawks as a team. Last season, they were one of the top teams in free throws and one of the lowest in turnovers. Another aspect of this club that makes them potent is their speed and quickness. The one thing that holds this team back is its dearth of stars: those guys who can transform a really good NBA team into a true championship contender. Teams that have a solid shot at taking the league title usually have two to three such players. The Hawks do not.
There has been minimal improvement on the Hawks, although the bench is stronger and that will help this team in the long run. Atlanta is a solid basketball team that will win their share of games. Although they still have some youngsters, the average age of the backcourt is 30 years. Interesting, but this may be the first season where coach Woodson does not lead the team to more victories than they had in the prior season. Still, they should finish second in the Southeast and somewhere around fourth in the Eastern Conference.