Bullets Fever

A blog and community website for the Washington Wizards and their fans.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Analyzing the Competition

Jumping from 13 wins to 26 wins doesn't really seem like much, but the Atlanta Hawks did double their win total from last season. There were lots of positive developments last year. Lost among the sudden emergence of Boris Diaw in Phoenix last year was that Joe Johnson, the man Diaw was traded for, had a really good season. Before the trade, many scoffed that Johnson was simply a decent player in an inflated system, but he proved his critics wrong last year and has become a borderline all-star for the Hawks. His strong play on Team USA should only mean better things for Atlanta. Josh Smith also emerged to a point last year, posting some crazy blocked shot numbers while improving his scoring. Marvin Williams struggled in his first year, but with the trade of Al Harrington, Williams should finally get the minutes he needs to succeed.

Additions: Speedy Claxton (FA-New Orleans), Lorenzen Wright (FA-Memphis), Shelden Williams (Draft 1-5), Solomon Jones (Draft 2-32)

Subtractions: Al Harrington (Trade-Indiana), John Edwards (Trade-Indiana)

The Hawks remind me in a lot of ways of those mid-90s Bullets teams. In spite of their teams' front offices, both clubs have an incredible amount of young talent. At the time, Chris Webber, Juwan Howard, and Rasheed Wallace were three of the best young forwards in the game. The problem was they all played the same position. Likewise, Atlanta has some real talent in Johnson, Josh Smith, Marvin Williams, and Shelden Williams, but they all play the same position. It makes for a strange situation.

Both teams had chances to fill their point guard role through the draft. It seems hard to believe now, but the Wizards could have taken Damon Stoudamire instead of Wallace in the 1995 draft (of course, they also could have had Kevin Garnett, but I digress). That type of thing never would have happened, but it's worth thinking about. Atlanta, of course, could have had Chris Paul instead of Marvin Williams. That's definetly a more catastrophic error.

Still, I see Atlanta making more improvements. In 1996, the Bullets went from 21 wins to 39. Veterans Robert Pack and Brent Price manned the point. They weren't a playoff team, but they were pretty close. Atlanta made a shrewd move in signing Speedy Claxton, another veteran who can man the point position. Claxton is no Chris Paul, but he is an upgrade over Tyronn Lue. Lorenzen Wright is going to help at center, and one of the two Williamses should be at least serviceable at power forward. Add in projected improvements from Johnson and Smith and the Hawks should be dangerous. As long as Johnson and Smith stay healthy, the Hawks have too much talent to finish with a win total in the mid 20s.

With shrewder front office moves, however, this could have been a title contender for many years. Like the Bullets of the mid 90s, the Hawks front office made some dumb moves, such as failing to draft Chris Paul or Randy Foye in back-to-back years. In the meantime, however, I think there's too much talent for there not to be improvement. Atlanta was good at staying in games last year, but bad at finishing. This year, I expect to see more wins, but not enough to make the playoffs. Think Bullets circa 1996-97.

Prediction: 37-45, third in the Southeast.

Think I screwed this one up? Let me know. How many wins do you think Atlanta will have this year?

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Blogger Nugg Doctor said...

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The Nugg Doctor

9:38 AM

Blogger Mini Me said...

Everyone went a little crazy over Atlanta drafting Sheldon a little too high. I think it was a great move. He is a solid pick. It is these types of solid picks that help rebuild crippled franchises such as the Hawks.

10:23 AM


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