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Atlanta Hawks
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An opposing team's scout sizes up the Hawks

I give them no hope of making the playoffs. Josh Smith is the embodiment of all of their problems. And Joe Johnson doesn't look happy with the way it's going, to judge by his body language. As a team, they're just taking turns getting shots up. The offense is ugly. And even after drafting a point guard, they still don't have one who can help them through this year. Acie Law has size and girth, but I don't see him making plays for people. This team is so bad that you can tell who's taking the first shot simply by whoever gets it in his hands first ...

On certain nights if they're on, they can run another team off the floor athletically. It will happen if the Hawks are motivated in some mysterious way and the other team is coming in from a back-to-back and is tired and doesn't want to run up and down. That's how they won last year ...

Mike Woodson is probably the first guy out there on the list of coaches who are in danger. He's trying to do things; he'll post up Johnson and do what he can. But their execution is very poor because too often it's one pass and shoot. When they look good, they're in transition and playing with four guys who can put the ball on the floor and take it to the basket -- Johnson, Smith, Marvin Williams and most of their point guards -- so if you don't get back, they're laying it in ...

Both Smith and Williams look like power forwards, but Marvin stands on the perimeter the whole time while Josh attempts to guard the goal -- he doesn't guard any person, he just guards the goal. Altogether, they have seven guys who could be a power forward, including Lorenzen Wright and Zaza Pachulia ...

Where do we begin with Smith? He'll dunk it three times straight, and next time down he'll want to see if he can get the three-point shot working and so he'll throw one up out of the flow ... clank. Or he'll make some stupid pass into the third row, or he'll jump in the air and throw it at somebody's knees like Nolan Ryan from 10 feet away. He's the kind of guy who will block the shot out of the court and return possession to the opponent rather than try to keep it in play so his team can get it. He'll lower his head to drive and just barrel into people, but he's not the only one. Their games are so sloppy because so many of them just put their heads down, and it's painful to watch. It's unbelievable how many stunts Smith and these other guys will pull to help lose games on a consistent basis. I'm talking about making an unbelievably good play and following it up with a knucklehead move. They're ultimately going to break hearts more often than they please their fans. It's an acceptable failure to miss a shot at the end of a game so long as you're giving the effort, but to walk up the floor and pound your chest after dunking when you're down by 20 doesn't bring the fans back and make them root for you. One of the worst things that can happen to them is to see Smith making his first couple of threes because now he thinks he's got it going tonight ...

So why is it like this in Atlanta? It's because they threw a guy like Smith the keys from the very beginning, they said this is your baby and we're going to ride you. But he doesn't have the discipline to carry a team and he doesn't know how to because he came straight out of high school. Look at how Kevin Garnett was raised by the Timberwolves: His teammates were Sam Mitchell and Terry Porter, two future head coaches in the locker room with him when he was a kid. But who has Smith been able to learn from? ...

Defensively, Woodson will try to trap and scramble the game so they can get points in transition, which means they don't have to execute in the half-court. Sometimes it will work if teams are lazy ...

Their No. 3 [overall] pick, Al Horford, is everything they wished Shelden Williams -- their No. 5 pick a year ago -- was going to be. Horford has a better chance of being a successful pro than Smith or either of their Williamses. He's got a little more control of his game, and he knows what he is and he sticks with that. Seeing Horford in person, I was surprised that he wasn't taller; he's never going to be Dwight Howard, let's put it that way. But he can still be a good back-to-the-basket scorer. He has a turnaround jump hook and he looks fluid in his moves. He isn't putting the ball on the floor four, five, six times. He has big shoulders and he's still going to grow some and fill out more. As a defender, the effort is there ...

With their absence of centers, they'll wind up playing two power forwards together unless Pachulia is out there. Shelden Williams is not a back-to-basket guy and he doesn't rebound well enough to be out there. He isn't that great of a shooter, and even though he's big and tough, he's still more of a face-up perimeter guy. He's going to need a big year to prove himself or he might not have his option picked up. Until he becomes a cold-hearted, 15-to-17-foot jump shooter, he's going to be a journeyman ...

I just don't see the quickness of foot from Marvin Williams, the ability to change directions. I don't see him doing stupid things to embarrass the franchise like some other people on their team. But he doesn't get it: He suffers from poor shot selection, shots at the wrong time and has an inability to knock down open jump shots. For every time that he takes the ball to basket and goes to the free throw line, there's another time that he's turning the ball over by making drives and bowling over people. Marvin thinks he's a jump shooter but he doesn't make jump shots, and he thinks he's a ball-handler but because he's not quick enough to get by people, he'll run into them and draw a charge. And he does not pass the ball ...

If they were to start all over again with a new rebuilding plan, Johnson would still be a big asset. You could go with Horford as a power forward and Pachulia as your backup center, and you may even give Shelden Williams and Law the benefit of the doubt ...

Johnson takes bad shots, and while he's capable of making them, it still creates a chicken-or-egg argument. Does Johnson taking bad shots encourage Smith and other guys to take bad shots too? Or is Johnson trying to take his shots before Smith can? They'll come out of a timeout and run a pretty neat play and not deliver the ball to a guy when he's open; instead, they'll throw it to Johnson on the wing and he'll jab step and hoist a 20-foot shot. It's a situation where they look like they're competing against each other for shots instead of playing off each other, even though Woodson has some great stuff coming out of timeouts ...

If Johnson were on a good team, I wonder if he would be the No. 1 player. It's a hard one to figure out. Let's say you traded him straight up for Rip Hamilton. Detroit would have as much success as ever with Joe, and Atlanta would be just as bad with Rip. By going to Atlanta, Johnson took the big money [$70 million over five years], and I bet deep down now he's regretting it. He knows he could have taken $55 million from Phoenix or somebody else and invested it well and be enjoying himself on a winner ...

Johnson isn't a playmaker, but he is a versatile scorer with three-point range and a post-up game, and he's a real strong guy who can take it off the dribble and pull up off the dribble. One thing he hasn't been for all of the money they're paying him is a team leader, because he hasn't been able to reel in the rest of his teammates ...

They don't have leadership at point guard either. Speedy Claxton is in decline -- he may have to change his first name. Claxton, Anthony Johnson and Tyronn Lue are all backups. So do they start Law as a rookie? We know how that works: On a bad team, you get thrown in there as a lottery pick and you lose 60 games and you've got nobody teaching you how to do it right; they just leave you in there to fight through your mistakes. Don't we all know by now that that doesn't work? ...

Law is a ball-control guy and he defends. He's good in transition taking it to the basket, but he's not really a jump shooter and we'll have to see if he's capable of making plays for the rest of them ...

If they want to develop, they need a point guard to deliver the ball to their shooters. Where would any great shooter be if he didn't have a great point guard to hit him in the hands with his feet set? Too often the Hawks' shooters are reaching down around their ankles to handle the pass before going up with it. And you know what they say, one bad pass leads to another ...

Josh Childress is a career backup. He shoots the ball low like he has just pulled it out of his hip pocket, though he makes a couple of them here and there. He's a driver with some length and quickness, and he'll rebound a bit and run the floor and handle the ball. But ultimately, he's a utility wing player on a bad team ...

It doesn't seem that Salim Stoudamire will amount to anything. He's small for a shooting guard, and he's neither a ball-handler nor a catch-and-shoot guy. He's strictly a shooter who can pound the ball too much ...

Pachulia would be a great backup center on a good team. He's their only inside defender, but he hasn't made a pass in three years.

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