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9 ATLANTA HAWKS
Chris Ballard
October 28, 2002
With a new forward and a healthy center, the front line is packed with promise—but not enough to make good on the guarantee of a playoff berth
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October 28, 2002

9 Atlanta Hawks

With a new forward and a healthy center, the front line is packed with promise—but not enough to make good on the guarantee of a playoff berth

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PROJECTED LINEUP

2001-02 record: 33-49 (sixth in Central)
Points scored: 94.0 (19th)
Points allowed: 98.3 (25th)
Coach: Lon Kruger (third season with Hawks)

STARTERS

PVR*

2001-02 KEY STATS

SF

Glenn Robinson#

34

20.7 ppg

6.2 rpg

2.5 apg

1.47 spg

46.7 FG%

PF

Shareef Abdur-Rahim

13

21.2 ppg

9.0 rpg

3.1 apg

1.27 spg

46.1 FG%

C

Theo Ratliff

86

8.7 ppg

5.3 rpg

2.67 bpg

50.0 FG%

54.5 FT%

SG

Ira Newble

209

8.0 ppg

5.3 rpg

1.1 apg

0.90 spg

49.8 FG%

PG

Jason Terry

55

19.3 ppg

3.5 rpg

5.7 apg

1.85 spg

43.0 FG%

BENCH

PVR*

2001-02 KEY STATS

G

Dion Glover

200

8.9 ppg

3.1 rpg

1.5 apg

0.82 spg

42.1 FG%

C

Nazr Mohammed

202

9.7 ppg

7.9 rpg

0.74 bpg

0.77 spg

46.1 FG%

F

Alan Henderson

230

5.5 ppg

3.7 rpg

0.58 bpg

50.9 FG%

53.3 FT%

G

Emanual Davis

269

6.6 ppg

2.6 rpg

2.4 apg

0.96 spg

35.4 FG%

F

Darvin Ham#

292

4.3 ppg

2.9 rpg

1.0 apg

0.53 bpg

56.9 FG%

#New acquisition
(R) Rookie (statistics for final college season)
*PVR: Player Value Ranking (explanation on page 92)

New forward Glenn (Big Dog) Robinson would like to make this perfectly clear: When it comes to a certain former Bucks teammate, bygones will not be bygones. " Ray Allen disappointed me by talking about how I'm not a team player," says Robinson of the All-Star shooting guard, who accused the Big Dog of never passing. "That's a coward move. It's easy to talk about somebody when you don't have to see them every day. Whatever I say, I can say twice. Ray Allen never said that to me." He looks away for a second, then says it again, more emphatically: "A coward move, that's what it was."

If Robinson's feeling about his old team could inspire a series called Everybody Hates Ray Allen, his sentiments about his new one could make for a syrupy Disney flick. When he learned of his August trade to the Hawks (in exchange for Toni Kukoc, Leon Smith and a 2003 first-round pick), Robinson, 29, began rubbing his palms together. "I was praying I would pass the physical and Toni would too," he says. "I've always thought about living and playing in Atlanta. I'm in my prime, and this is a new beginning."

After the arrival of Georgia-born Shareef Abdur-Rahim from Vancouver last off-season, Robinson becomes the second All-Star forward in two years who's been overjoyed to come to Atlanta. While this may say more about where the pair was coming from—and Robinson's desire to put behind him charges made in July of misdemeanor domestic battery, assault and possession of a firearm (a court date is set for November in Chicago)—the Hawks will take whatever they can get, mired as they are in a three-year postseason drought, their longest since the mid-1970s. Confident that better days are ahead, Atlanta is offering $125 back to each of its season-ticket holders if the team doesn't make the playoffs. If it does, those fans will get into the opener for free. "I didn't want to do it if I didn't think we were going to turn the corner," says coach Lon Kruger, who came up with the idea last spring, then ran it by the Hawks' top players before going public. "More importantly, though, I wanted our players to know we had confidence in them."

Much of that confidence stems from the team's upgraded front line of Abdur-Rahim, Robinson and center Theo Ratliff, the league's top shot blocker in 2000-01, who missed all but three games last season with a cartilage tear in his right hip. So far Ratliff has looked sharp after eight months of what he calls "continuous rehab," working to strengthen his back and abdomen, where most of his muscle loss occurred. "He's the key," says Robinson. "It's all about big Theo."

As for Big Dog, and his purported tendency to shoot first and shoot second, Kruger is not worried. "He recognizes that he's got some other guys around him who can score," he says. "I don't think it will be a problem."

A guard in Milwaukee might be inclined to disagree.

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

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