Offseason Roundup: Atlanta Hawks.

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Hawk’s 2013-2018 salary

The Atlanta Hawks had one of the busiest off-seasons in the NBA. With two top-20 picks in this year draft along with only 3 players on the books they were in prime position for Danny Ferry to put his fingerprint on the future. After an awkward departure from Larry Drew in which both parties flirted with others during the pending divorce the future is quite bright in Atlanta. Ferry managed to lure long time Spurs assistant Mike Budenholzer away from his assumed coach in waiting post behind Pop to man the overhaul in Atlanta. The connection is obvious with Ferry and Bud working together for years on winning the “Spurs Way.”

 

Front Court

The acquisition of Budenholzer coincided with the Detroit departure of Josh Smith. Smith was a pariah in Atlanta for his refusal to ignore bad shots, his constant on court bickering, and lack of consistency. Without Smith, the Hawks are sure to take a hit on the defensive side of the court where the already undersized front court will remain small and lose its leading shot blocker from last season. They will still have an All-Star in the starting lineup in Al Horford. Horford is continuously overlooked by the media, returned to All-Star form averaging 17.4 points and 10.2 rebounds per game while leading the Hawks in minutes. Ferry continued to his trend of spending money wisely filling the gap left by Josh Smith with a tremendous two-year deal with Paul Millsap. The front court will remain undersized with the Millsap – Horford duo but it will rebound and score in bunches. Ferry brought in Elton Brand on a friendly one year deal to help solidify the bench. In addition to Brand, the bench will finally have some big men who might contribute after the acquisition of Gustavo Ayon, who was claimed off of waivers from Milwaukee. and Pero Antic, a stretch four with tons of Euroleague experience.

Kyle Korver looked to be a lock to reunite with Deron Williams and AK-47 in Brooklyn early in free agency. Korver however found security in a four-year deal to remain a sharpshooting focus in the Hawks lineup. The contract might look a little heavy for a one-dimensional player such as Korver, but he was key member of last years team as a deadly option off of any screen and shooting ages well. DeMarre Carroll is a junk yard dog. He brings a little bit of grit and hustle to Atlanta in a contrasting role to Korver. A young forward with a nose for defense and rebounding Carroll is a value replacement for the recently released DeShawn Stevenson. With both pieces on board the Hawks look better at the small forward position than in years past.  Mike Scott will back up the three and four positions and showed huge strides of improvement in the Summer League. After a rookie season where he struggled to get any minutes, Scott made the most of his time in Vegas averaging 18.6 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. It was impressive to see how active Scott was around the basket, getting multiple offensive put backs every game.

Back Court

The decision to resign Jeff Teague was easy. The way the Hawks went about it were par for the new CBA. Why would the Hawks wish to outbid the market for Teague when they had the right to math any offer? Teague ended up feeling not wanted by the Hawks and signed an offer sheet with Milwaukee to reunite with Larry Drew. The Hawks of course matched the four-year deal locking up a valuable asset for the future who happens to be coming off of a career year. Watching Teague develop under Coach Bud is going to be fun over the next few years at the Highlight Factory. Coach Bud was instrumental in the development of Tony Parker and George Hill. Teague should excel in the multiple screen sets that Bud will bring with him from San Antonio. Another young player who should excel in the new motion sets is John Jenkins. In limited minutes as a rookie Jenkins showed that his skill set would translate to the pro game. He played extremely well in the Summer League running the new look offense. Playing a central role  he averaged 18.0 points and 4.4 rebounds per game.

The Rookies

So enough Summer League talk without mention of the German that stole my basketball soul, Dennis Schroeder. Schroeder was a long rumored lottery pick after his impressive showing at the Nike Hoops Summit. The Hawks were rewarded by the basketball gods when Schroeder was there at number seventeen they quickly selected the young man with two years of pro experience at the tender age of nineteen. In Vegas, Schroeder showed a poise that would come with that experience. He got the Hawks into their sets early in the shot clock and looked poised on the pick and roll, setting up several lobs and easy finishes for teammates. Which weren’t always converted. The thing with Schroeder is the offense is in addition to his amazing defense.  The Rondo comparisons are legit, he is freakishly long and uses change of pace dribble off the pick and roll to create. He will be one of the best on ball defenders at the point guard position for years to come. Throughout the Summer League he hounded opposing guards full court and pick pocketed several roster hopefuls shamelessly. What I would give to watch the first few practices with Teague and Schroeder battling out top.

I know. How can I go this long without mention of BeBe Nogueira? The man, the myth, the Hair. Nogueira is most likely not going to be playing stateside this season, the big man is most likely heading back to Spain to develop for another season. After an impressive showing in Vegas, it was obvious that BeBe could use a little more bulk on his 7 foot frame. He swatted a ton of shots coming from the weak side to help, but struggled to contain smaller stronger players on the block.

Strictly Basketball. Return of the Hog.

Ball Hog.

 

After a rough summer school session, I’m back. I’ve been trying to figure out a strategy to make the blog more consistent and have decided to focus strictly on hoops. The world of sports is much too large for one man to cover alone (or at least do it well). I will try to bring a unique look into my thoughts, views, and opinions of the comings and goings of hoops.

The NBA off-season has lulled to the slowest point of the year, with all prominent free agents signed except Nikola Pekovic and all coaching vacancies filled except for the tanking 76ers. Starting tomorrow, I will post my thoughts on all teams off-season moves to this point, some potential breakout players, and how I think the season will play out.

Russell Westbrook Out: The World Is Ending.

Houston Rockets vs. Oklahoma City ThunderRussell Westbrook is human after all. The Oklahoma City star has never missed a game. Not in high school, not in college, and certainly not since he came into the league in 2008. Westbrook suffered  torn cartilage in his right knee though we do not know to what extent. He will certainly be out for the rest of this series and most likely the next as well. Without knowing the true extent of the surgery it has been hard for experts to put a timetable on his recovery. This is a horrible loss for the Thunder. They must now go into Houston and try to keep hold of this series which will be much harder without their thoroughbred. Westbrook was sixth in the league in scoring this season and averaged the most assists of anyone in the top 10. The Rockets will certainly try to expose Reggie Jackson for the young point he is. This series is about to get interesting Will Durant go off for 50 a game? Will Lin play? Will this be McHale’s last coaching gig? Will Kendrick Perkins continue to get away with two-handed holds on screens?

Overdue Baseball Predictions: AL East Picks

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I admit making predictions after having the benefit of watching each team play 20 games is a little unfair. However don’t blame me. I find it hard to write on baseball when there is a half of a foot of snow outside. Blame Colorado. So far this season we have had some moon shot home runs and filthy pitches being dealt. Here is my rundown of the season so far and the picks for the post-season.

AL East

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1. Boston Red Sox

After a year in the AL East cellar and a total roster overhaul, the Red Sox were not expected to come out this hot. The Sox seemed to have a ho hum offseason yet find themselves at the top of the AL East after 20 games. Is it sustainable? If they manage to keep Lester and Bucholz healthy they have the best 1-2 punch in the East. The duo has 9 wins so far and Bucholz is having a career year.

 

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2. Toronto Blue Jays

As winners of the Miami Marlin’s fire sale and the R.A. Dickey sweepstakes the Blue Jays have enough talent to win the World Series. Too bad it hasn’t seemed to click north of the border yet. The Jays are a dismal 9-15 right now. I trust that they can rebound from the nasty injury to Jose Reyes and start putting some wins together. I expect them to finish a few games over .500 and be in the thick of things in the crowded wild-card race.

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3. Baltimore Orioles

I just don’t trust the Orioles rotation enough to give them the nod over the Blue Jays. The magic of their extra-inning success is finally over and I am expecting the Orioles run to tail off in the near future. Adam Jones and Matt Weiters are two of the games brightest young stars, Manny Machado is on his way. Let’s hope Dillian Bundy elbow is fine because he is worth all the hype.

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4. Tampa Bay Rays

Evan Longoria and David Price need help. Price has been struggling all season for the Rays. Longoria has been his usually self, he just needs some help. The offense of the Rays has been stagnant all season and I don’t see a solution outside of Will Myers.

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5. New York Yankees

I had the Yanks in the cellar even with Derek Jeter. The fact that captain isn’t coming back until after the All-Star break if at all just makes this a sure bet. With injuries all over the field the Yankees will have a hard time keeping up with the younger teams ahead of them in the rankings. Sabathia has struggled a few times this season and the already thin rotation was counting on him to be his usual self. The Yankees run is finally over.

2013 NFL Mock 1st Round Draft: Picks 26-32.

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packers26. Green Bay Packers

Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina

The Packers would love for one of the draft’s top defensive tackles to fall to them and that’s exactly what they would find in Sylvester Williams. We’ve seen the Packers spend some time at Texas A&M’s facilities this offseason in an attempt to shore up their defensive efforts. After the thrashing that Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers gave them in the playoffs, it’s no secret that defense is a problem in Green Bay.

 

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27. Houston Texans

DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson

The Texans are lacking a true second receiver to pair with Andre Johnson. After releasing the previously dependent Kevin Walter this offseason, the Texans will be looking for help very early in the draft. Last year’s draft netted them two promising players in DeVier Posey and Keshawn Martin but they are still in need of someone who can be depended on to play on a regular basis and produce. DeAndre Hopkins seems to be a perfect fit.

 

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28. Denver Broncos

John Jenkins, DT, Georgia

The Broncos had a magnificent offseason adding key pieces such as Wes Welker, Louis Vasquez, and Dominque Rogers-Cromartie. Although a mishap led to them losing a key pass rusher in Elvis Dumervil, we have to believe that the Broncos won’t miss a beat in 2013. Adding John Jenkins to their front 7 would be a tremendous help to them next year.

 

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29. New England Patriots

Robert Woods, WR, USC

It’s no secret that the Patriots are bad at drafting wide receivers early, but that shouldn’t stop them from rolling the dice on Robert Woods. Woods was an absolute monster in the Pac-12 over his career compiling 256 catches and 32 touchdowns. It sure helps when you have a guy like Matt Barkley throwing to you and you can bet that Robert Woods won’t experience any drop off whatsoever catching passes from Tom Brady.

 

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30. Atlanta Falcons 

Menelik Watson, OT, FSU

The Falcons recently released longtime starter Tyson Clabo and will look to the draft for help in replacing his production. Menelik Watson represents the best available option for the Falcons here if they don’t try to trade up like they have every year since Thomas Dimitroff has been in charge.

 

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31. San Francisco 49ers

Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame

The 49ers hold 13 picks in the 2013 NFL draft and can afford to take the best player available at this spot. They recently lost Delanie Walker in free agency and could look at the top rated tight end in this year’s class.

 

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32. Baltimore Ravens

Shamarko Thomas, S, Syracuse

The Ravens experienced the highs of winning it all last year and watched this offseason as the team slowly dismantled during free agency. We are definitely going to see a different squad out there for the Ravens next year with Ray Lewis retiring, Paul Kruger heading to division rival Cleveland, and both safeties Ed Reed and Bernard Pollard signing with new teams. The addition of Michael Huff should help and Shamarko Thomas would be a nice fit starting alongside him.