Are The Hawks Restructuring Or Rebuilding?
The Atlanta Hawks are currently on a five-season playoff streak, but will enter the 2012-13 campaign with only five players on the roster from last season. Gone are dependable veterans such as Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams via offseason trades. In their place are at least eight players who are entering contract years.
Despite all of the personnel changes shooting guard Lou Williams, the Hawks’ marquee free agent signing this past summer, believes the team isn’t in rebuild mode, but sort of a transitional restructuring period in the first year of general manager Danny Ferry’s tenure.
“I think the term we’ve been using is restructuring,” Williams said during the team’s media day. “I don’t think we’re really rebuilding right now. Obviously we still have guys who can play at a high level. Al [Horford] coming back off of his injury and he’s an All-Star guy. In my opinion, I felt like Josh [Smith] should have been an All-Star last year. You still have guys here who are more than capable.”
One of the team’s strengths this season will be the backcourt with Williams, Jeff Teague and former All-Star Devin Harris expected to get the lion’s share of minutes at guard. From afar, Williams has admired both of his new backcourt mates.
“Jeff has come into his own as a point guard,” Williams said of Teague’s emergence as a floor general. “Myself and Devin have been established in this league for a number of years. So I don’t really think we’re rebuilding. I think we’re restructuring honestly. We have a lot of new pieces and that’s what training camp is for. Once we put the pieces in the right place, I think we’ll be able to compete immediately.”
The Hawks will also feature an assortment of elite-level shooters from three-point range with the addition of marksmen Kyle Korver, Anthony Morrow and first-round draft pick John Jenkins.
Korver, who is a career 41 percent shooter from three-point range, says this is the best collection of shooters he’s been around since he entered the league almost a decade ago.
“Not since college. I’ve always kind of felt like I was the only [shooter],” Korver told HOOPSWORLD. “You kind of knew where I was going to be out there. But we have a lot of shooters this year. I think it’s going to be great. I think it’s going to be great for the game. You can’t just lock in on one guy. I think we’re going to have great spacing. It’s going to be great for each of us in practice having good guys to shoot against every day. It’s going to keep you on your toes.”
Teague is also excited about the shooters and fully expects the Hawks’ offense to flow much better this season than in previous years.
“With Korver, playing against him in the playoffs, his ability to stretch the defense is unbelievable,” Teague said. “And I know a lot of people haven’t talked about it but Jenkins, man, that guy can really shoot the basketball. He’s an unbelievable shooter. I think our offense is going to flow a lot better. I think we’re going to be able to get up and down (the floor) a lot more. We have probably the best shooting team in the NBA with Korver, Morrow and Jenkins’ ability to stretch the defense.”
While the collection of long-range gunners will get a lot of attention, head coach Larry Drew believes it is the speed of his backcourt which will disrupt opposing defenses. Drew feels Teague, Williams and Harris may be the fastest backcourt in the entire league.
“To be honest, I can’t think of one,” Drew said on if there is another backcourt in the league faster than the Hawks’ guard unit. “We can certainly get from one end of the floor to the other with the best of them. Jeff and Lou are two guys who are really good in the open floor and they certainly bring a tremendous amount of speed to the game. We’re going to try to take full advantage of their ability to get in the open court, to keep constant pressure on the defense. I think all three of those guys have the ability to keep constant pressure on the defense and to really break a defense down and put us in a good position offensively.”
When a team trades away an All-Star level talent (Johnson) and doesn’t receive an equal caliber player in return, it typically signifies the start of a rebuilding project. However, the Hawks enter the start of training camp with the belief the current roster will be able to compete with any team in the league.