Tag Archives: Flip Murray

Looking Forward Roundup

I’ve finally finished the Looking Forward series, where I took a look at each team in the NBA in terms of how they did in 2008-2009, how they improved (or didn’t) in the off-season that has just now come to a close with the start of training camp, and what to expect out of them in 2009-2010.

I wanted to put them all in one all in one place, and since I started this in July I felt it was appropriate to provide brief updates where they are necessary. Here we go.

Eastern Conference

Atlantic Division

Boston Celtics – Added Shelden Williams. If he ends up in the rotation, it probably means Garnett is out, so let’s just hope we don’t see much of him this year.
New Jersey Nets – Roster-wise, nothing’s changed. But there’s a new owner in town, making the (Brooklyn) Nets a much more attractive free agent destination next summer.
New York Knicks
Philadelphia 76ers – Brought back Rodney Carney, plus they’ve got Stromile Swift, Primoz Brezec, Sean Singletary, and Dionte Christmas on their training camp roster. Expect one or two of them to make the team.
Toronto Raptors – Signed and traded Carlos Delfino to Milwaukee along with Roko Ukic, in exchange for Amir Johnson and Sonny Weems. Johnson seems like a great acquisition, as he is capable of playing multiple positions and adds some much-needed athleticism and rebounding in the frontcourt.

Central Division

Chicago Bulls
Cleveland Cavaliers – Good thing they signed Anthony Parker, ‘cause nobody knows exactly what’s going on with Delonte West right now.
Detroit Pistons
Indiana PacersRod Benson is on their training camp roster, which is awesome. Shame they arleady have Troy Murphy, Solomon Jones, Tyler Hansbrough, and Josh McRoberts at the 4, though.
Milwaukee Bucks

Southeast Division

Atlanta Hawks – Added Joe Smith and Jason Collins to the frontcourt. The former should receive playing time. Mike Wilks, Juan Dixon, and Aaron Miles will compete in training camp for an emergency guard reserve spot.
Charlotte Bobcats – Flip Murray was a bargain, but he’s just short-term help.
Miami Heat
Orlando Magic – Could actually warrant another post now, since they’ve kept on spending and this piece was technically before I started “Looking Forward”. Kept Gortat, signed Matt Barnes, Jason Williams, and Linton Johnson. Absolutely stacked, fans better thank the ownership. Rashard Lewis is out for the first 10 games for failing a drug test, but they should win almost all of them.
Washington Wizards

Western Conference

Southwest Division

Dallas Mavericks – As always, Kris Humphries is impressing in training camp. I have high hopes for Tamm Llorac, too.
Houston Rockets
Memphis Grizzlies
New Orleans Hornets – Shockingly made a good basketball trade when moving Chandler for Okafor (it’ll cost them money in the long run, but Okafor makes less than Chandler for the next two years). Should be improved, a bit, but they have to stop giving Peja so many minutes.
San Antonio Spurs – Signed Theo Ratliff and Keith Bogans. They needed another shot-blocker and they needed another backcourt shooter. Nice.

Northwest Division

Denver Nuggets – J.R. Smith is out for the first 7 games because of an old reckless driving incident, but they’re still good enough to win most of those games. Also, they let Linas Kleiza join Josh Childress and Von Wafer at Olympiakos and acquired more athleticism in Joey Graham and James “Flight” White.
Minnesota Timberwolves
Portland Trail Blazers – Signed Ime Udoka and Juwan Howard to fill out the roster. Both are heady veterans who will not see much court time unless the team is hit by injuries.
Oklahoma City Thunder – Added Ryan Bowen, Michael Ruffin, and Kevin Ollie. Vets who will challenge the young guys in practice and are capable of spot minutes if there are injuries.
Utah Jazz

Pacific Division

Golden State Warriors – Still have the same talent, but this is a mess. Captain Jack wants out, Monta says he can’t share the backcourt with Stephen Curry, and I can’t blame either of them.
Los Angeles Clippers – Coach Dunleavy has stated that Blake Griffin will come off the bench, which almost made me punch a wall. On the plus side, Baron Davis came into camp in shape.
Los Angeles LakersIt’s a bit of a circus, but the Lakers are good with that. Still the favourite.
Phoenix Suns
Sacramento KingsUgh, they signed Desmond Mason. Kings fans are thrilled.

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Filed under League-Wide Stuff, Looking Forward

Looking Forward: Atlanta Hawks

The Atlanta Hawks were pretty good last season. By pretty good, I mean they finished with a 47-35 record, which was enough to net them home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. They were 10th in offensive efficiency and 11th in defensive efficiency – a solid, but not elite club. They beat the Miami Heat in the most unwatchable 7-game playoff series in NBA history and then were handily swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers.

We all knew they had no chance against Cleveland. The Cavs were dominant in the regular season and were the favourites to win the title. Atlanta, being a sub-elite team, shouldn’t have been expected to win a game against any of the legitimate title contenders last year. After the moves they’ve made this summer, I don’t expect things to be any different next year.

Let’s look at these moves then, shall we? The Hawks re-signed Mike Bibby, Zaza Pachulia, and Marvin Williams; they acquired Jamal Crawford for Acie Law and Speedy Claxton; and they drafted Jeff Teague out of Wake Forest. What do I think of all of this? Blah. Blah, blah, and blah. Okay, fine – I love that they held onto Marvin Williams, but the organization really hasn’t done anything exciting here.

It’s not that they won’t improve. Joe Johnson should sustain; Josh Smith, Al Horford, and Marvin Williams should get better; Crawford should be a slight upgrade over Flip Murray; and Teague should be better than Law. Being a better basketball team than last year doesn’t guarantee they’ll win 47 games again, though. Orlando, Cleveland, and Boston all could win 60-plus games next season. Washington, Chicago, and Toronto could make significant leaps from where they were last season. Philadelphia, Detroit, and Indiana could make minor jumps, too. The Hawks are capable of getting that 4th seed in the East again, but they’re going to have to work for those wins.

If the Hawks are going to make a big splash next season, it’s going to be because of superior play from their young core. Marvin Williams needs to get the ball more and he needs to be more aggressive. He’s an efficient young player, but he doesn’t assert his will on the game often enough. Al Horford is also an efficient guy, but he needs to improve his post game – offensively and defensively. He did improve in his sophomore season, but didn’t make the jump some people that he would. Now is his time. As for Josh Smith, um… He needs his own paragraph.

Josh Smith is one of the most intriguing (and exciting) players in the game. He has ridiculous athleticism and displays extreme aggressiveness at times when he attacks the rim like a crazy person and blocks shots with the strength and power of a dunk. At other times, though, he settles for low-percentage jumpers on the perimeter. He does have some guard skills and he seems to like the ball in his hands, but on a team like this, surely he’s most effective on the inside. With all the ball-handlers on the roster, Mike Woodson and his coaching staff need to make a commitment to teaching Smith how to play off the ball and play the pick-and-roll game. I have no doubt that the Hawks will improve if he plays more like a young Amare Stoudemire than a Chris Bosh-type, offensively.

I’m not sure whether to bet on the Hawks improving or not. If we see some growth from within and an inspired coaching effort, then it’s possible. If not, then it’s going to be the same old story and, if I was a Hawks fan, I’d be demanding some bigger changes next summer.

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Filed under Atlanta Hawks, Free Agency, Looking Forward, Trades