Hawks Key To Surprise Start

By Zack Cimini

The Atlanta Hawks were supposed to be a team similar to the Golden State Warriors of several years ago. A team that has budding young talent that can be scary on any night but the truth in their 8th seed would not blossom into much more than that. We saw the Warriors use their youth to upset the Dallas Mavericks and cause quite a stir for their style on the court. That did not make the proper move forward partly due to poor veteran leadership and the powerhouse of the western conference. Over in the East though the divisiveness of power has been usually considered between a few teams. The Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Orlando Magic, and up until last year the Detroit Pistons.

The team that’s replaced the Pistons and maybe started to even edge up on a few some of the top tier are the Atlanta Hawks. The organization has let coach Mike Woodson develop a great young core and it’s translated to an extremely unselfish team. On any given night a different Hawk player may rise to the occasion and be the leading scorer. Unlike most teams that have to rely on that go to player or second primary scorer the Hawks are so talented that they’ve deferred without flinching to the hot hand on a particular night. The generosity of distribution has the Hawks flying high and for the first time in awhile the leading sports franchise in the Atlanta area over the Falcons and Braves.

This isn’t more evident by the fact that six of their players are averaging ten points a game. What other team in the NBA has that type of potency and reliability on a given night? It’d be hard to find one. Currently, Joe Johnson, Jamal Crawford, Marvin Williams, Mike Bibby, Josh Smith, and Al Horford are the leading dynamic players that have stirred this tremendous turnabout. The good willed unselfishness displayed by their superior talent is started by their leader in Joe Johnson. Questioning his aggressiveness offensively to take over games use to be a problem, but with the growth of the team as a whole his all around talent is rubbing off. Johnson’s averaged over five assists a game for quite some time, and is the veteran leader of this team with Mike Bibby.

There is one key ingredient that has been the biggest difference of addition to this Atlanta Hawks team. That was the key signing of Jamal Crawford. Players know his game as he has been one of the leagues most electrifying scorers on several teams. He comes in and is not necessarily going to be a guy that sets up the offense and passes the ball into the post to Horford and Smith. When he is on the court you can expect Crawford to want to take over the game offensively. Be it no surprise that Crawford is the second leading scorer on the team averaging sixteen a game. He gets his shot off with regularity and is putting a shot up at a rapid pace per minutes played.

There are just moves that make perfect sense. Crawford was that missing piece to just slightly take that pressure off of guys that necessarily couldn’t put up 15-20 points a game every night. Players like Josh Smith, Al Horford, and Marvin Williams are going to have their nights of dominance, but bring more to the table with their athleticism to hinder teams. Credit for this team getting to the level of play they’re at has to all circle back to their leader in Mike Woodson. Woodson’s been a patient developer with this team and has brought in the necessary ingredients to get to this point.

How Crawford is only owned in 80 percent of Yahoo leagues is mind boggling. We would consider highly in grabbing Crawford as he is content with his role and you know he is going to be a consistent factor each night. As long as this team stays healthy expect to see Atlanta challenge strongly in the Eastern Conference playoffs just as they did two years ago taking the Celtics seven games, and then last year by defeating the Heat in round one. They’ve taken the necessary steps the past few years to get to this point. With all the attention still centered on the Celtics tremendous talent and LeBron that’s exactly how the Hawks would like it to remain.