Archives For October 2014

Another Chance for Al Horford

Cole Patty —  October 31, 2014

Most people are familiar with Murphy’s Law or at least the current version of “whatever can go wrong will go wrong.” Commonly said in situations by the Average Joe on one of the days where the bad luck comes in bunches; it’s almost as if the forces of the universe just won’t let something nice happen to them, no matter how much good karma they may have built up.

Al Horford may be a two-time All-Star, but his career also feels like the embodiment of this law. Every time Horford gets a bit of momentum going towards finally becoming the superstar he plays like, something bad seems to happen. On top of that, he is mostly overlooked in the “best center in the East” discussions, he wasn’t named an All-Star during a great 2012-13 campaign, and was constantly overshadowed during his career by the more bombastic Josh Smith. In fact, most of the mainstream media coverage on Horford is about why he should be playing power forward instead of mentioning that he is a matchup nightmare for his larger stone footed counterparts.

As for Murphy’s Law, Horford’s injuries have stifled his growth towards becoming a superstar. When Atlanta powered on to the 5-seed in the strike shortened 2011-12 seasons, Continue Reading…

According to Mark Deeks of ShamSports and later confirmed by Jason Walker of Peachtree Hoops, the Hawks have picked up Dennis Schröder’s third year on his rookie contract, but declined to pick up a fourth year on John Jenkins.

This is not too surprising. Schröder is just 21 and still has a lot of potential with his combination of athleticism and body type. Jenkins, who will turn 24 this season, has not been impressive recently. Part of that is due to a back injury he suffered last season, but he still has not recovered to the form he showed in his rookie season. The fourth year of a rookie contract usually containing a significant raise did not help Jenkins’ cause.

What this means is that the Hawks have a lot more faith in Kent Bazemore than they do in John Jenkins. While Bazemore still has a lot of refining to do with his offensive game, he is at least able to make an effect on defense when he’s not scoring, something that Jenkins cannot do.

First reported by the AJC’s Chris Vivlamore and later announced by the team, the Hawks have agreed to a new TV deal with FOX Sports that starts with the 2015-16 season.

From the team’s press release:

FOX Sports South and SportSouth senior vice president and general manager Jeff Genthner, and Atlanta Hawks CEO Steve Koonin, today announced a new long-term television rights agreement. The new agreement goes into effect with the 2015-16 NBA season. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Under the new agreement, SportSouth – a FOX Sports regional network – will remain the exclusive regional television partner of the Atlanta Hawks and will produce all locally-available regular season games not exclusively selected by a national network. The regional network will also televise three preseason games, select Hawks Playoff games and produce 10 hours of Hawks-themed original programming each season.

“We are excited to extend our partnership with SportSouth and build off the record-setting ratings that we established during our thrilling playoff series last season,” Koonin said. “The broadcast of live sports is crucial to our business and we are fortunate to have a great partner with such a large footprint to grow our fan base.”

This is exciting news for the team and solves a problem that the HawksHoop team has been rather adamant about. The best way to reach your fans is to televise as many games as you can and the Hawks had not been doing that the past several seasons. Shout out to Hawks CEO Steve Koonin for trying to do as much as possible to engage the Atlanta fan base.

The Hawks dropped their first game of the 2014-15 season with a 109-102 loss to the Raptors, and it could have been much uglier that that. Atlanta started out sloppy and played poorly on the defensive end, but a late run sparked the team. Costly mistakes threw away their final chance to come out on top.

Despite the loss, there were a few things we can take away from the game:

  • DEPTH
    The Hawks lacked depth last season — mostly due to injuries — but were coming into this season with a lot of versatile players on a deep bench. By the beginning of the second quarter, Mike Budenholzer had played 11 guys, showing how deep this team really is. Elton Brand was the first sub off the bench, followed by Kent Bazemore shortly after. On more than one occasion, Bud rolled out a Mack-Bazmore-Sefolosha-Scott-Brand lineup, and it proved to be a nice spark. Scott was the best bench player in the game, channeling his fire emojis for 20 points on 8-for-11 shooting. In the end, 10 guys played at least 11 minutes, and no starter played over 33 minutes.
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Hawks Fall to Raptors 109-102

Bo Churney —  October 29, 2014

The NBA’s season opener brought the Hawks to Toronto, where they faced off against the Raptors in Al Horford’s return to regular season basketball.

The Raptors used a 9-2 run at the end of the second quarter to take an eight-point (60-52) lead into halftime. They would not relinquish this lead and instead built upon it in the third quarter. 11 different Raptors scored in the third quarter, allowing Toronto to build a double-digit lead that left the Hawks scrambling for ideas.

Toronto continued their run at the start of the fourth quarter, with their lead ballooning to as many as 19 mid-way through the period. However, Mike Scott and the Hawks re-found the 3-ball late in the game and quickly chipped away at Toronto’s big lead. A DeMarre Carroll layup that was goaltended with 35 seconds left made it a 105-101 game in favor of Toronto and the Hawks quickly fouled DeMar DeRozan to send him to the line. DeRozan missed both free throws, but jumped to just the right spot off the miss to grab the long rebound. DeRozan was then fouled again, making both attempts on the second trip to the line and essentially dashing the Hawks’ comeback hopes.

Horford looked good in first regular season game since December 29, but he was still rusty and tentative with his jumpshot. The result was 6-for-15 from the field for 12 points. Despite that, Horford still played well in the other facets of the game, grabbing a game-high 13 rebounds, dishing out three assists, and block three shots. After the game, Horford said he started to get into a rhythm in the fourth quarter, and it showed when he sank back-to-back jumpers that helped the Hawks cut into the large Raptor lead. Continue Reading…

After Bruce Levenson announced he would be selling his stake in the Atlanta Hawks back in September, the franchise’s future has been in flux. Former Hawks legend Dominique Wilkins has interest in buying the team, as well as former NBA star Chris Webber. The mayor of Atlanta has said he would like the team to be sold by the end of the year, which means we may see a resolution to the ownership issues in the coming months.

Professional sports franchises have sold for astronomical amounts recently, so many have wondered how much the Hawks would sell for. A post from MidLevelExceptional.com stated that Atlanta could be the franchise that bucks this recent spike in price, using low attendance as a reason for a lower price.

When it comes to NBA franchises and their price tags, there are two recent examples when it comes to buying and selling. The Milwaukee Bucks sold for $550 million back in April, after being valued at just $405 million by Forbes. The Clippers have just recently sold to professional hype man Steve Ballmer, and their price reached a record  $2 billion. They were valued at just $575 million, which shows how overvalued franchises have become in professional sports.

So will the Hawks reverse the trend?

According to Sports Business Journal, it doesn’t seem likely.The SBJ is reporting that the Hawks will sell for a minimum of $750 million, and that price has the chance to rise to the $1 billion mark. Valued at just $425 million, that would mean the trend would indeed continue with Atlanta carrying the baton.

Despite low attendance and being a nationally maligned team, there are a few things to remember when it comes to the sale of the Hawks. First off, there are only 30 teams in the NBA. That means only 30 individuals in the world can call themselves a majority owner in the NBA. Secondly, the league is growing both financially and globally. They recently signed a gigantic nine-year, $24 billion TV deal with Turner and ESPN, giving the league an unprecedented amount of money for the right to broadcast their games. There is real value to owning a franchise in the NBA.

It is important to remember that this is not the same ol’ Hawks. This team is starting to make real strides both on and off the court. With Mike Budenholzer as head coach, the system is aesthetically pleasing to watch, and should soon start to attract more fans. With the combination of two of the top 30 players in the league and legitimate depth, the Hawks could be in for a special season. They also are installing some state of the art arena operations — like a new scoreboard and player introductions.

As potential owners start to be revealed, and the ownership problem begins to end, you can expect the price to be on par with the recent purchases in professional sports. Although they may not be going for $2 billion, $750 million is certainly nothing to scoff at.

Unlike years past, this year the Southeast Division looks wide open. Not only that, it’s the most powerful it’s been in years. The defending division champion Miami Heat may have lost LeBron James, but they still have one of the five best coaches in the NBA, and two to three all star level talents. The Wizards are coming off a year where they advanced to the second round, and some think they should have gone as far as the Eastern Conference Finals. There’s some swagger going on in DC with John Wall claiming to have the best backcourt in the NBA. To help their quest for the conference finals and beyond, the Wizards went out and signed Paul Pierce; another year older, but he’s still as crafty as ever.

Then there’s the Charlotte Bobcats Hornets. To go with their rebrand, they’ve upgraded the roster, signing Lance Stephenson. Charlotte surprised many last year, grabbing the 7th seed in the East and finishing with 43 wins. They will be looking to have a repeat of last year. Not far behind Charlotte is Atlanta. The Hawks are fully healthy this year, and with Al Horford’s return, they’re looking to make a playoff run of their own. Then there’s…well the Orlando Magic are a team and they play basketball. With a wide open division, it’s anybody’s for the taking. Except the Magic, they are awful.

Miami Heat

MIA

The Heat are coming off the roughest offseason in the division. They lost LeBron James, and no matter how you spin it, they’ve downgraded. Miami has gone from surefire contender, to being predicted as low as 7th in the East. They have a lot to prove this year if they’re going to earn back some of the respect they’ve lost.

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Hawks Swat Down Hornets in OT

Bo Churney —  October 21, 2014

The Hawks finally conquered the Hornets 117-114 after the game was needlessly extended in overtime.

The officials were atrocious at the end of regulation, but they were even worse in overtime. The Hawks’ final offensive possession in OT — which started with 5.5 seconds left — took over six seconds until Thabo Sefolosha was fouled. The game should have ended, but then the refs reviewed the play for about ten minutes before deciding to put 2.8 seconds back on the clock with Sefolosha at the free throw line. It was an enormous gaffe that led to the game lasting about 15 minutes longer than it should have. If the NBA is serious about trying to reduce the average length of games, maybe look into overly long official reviews and excessive end-of-game timeouts instead of tinkering with the long-time rules of the game.

If you can’t tell, the officials really put a bad ending on what was otherwise an interesting game. Both teams stuck with a mix of starters and rotation players for the duration of the game and some legitimately fun basketball was being played. My complaining and soapbox speaking aside, there are plenty of positives and negatives to discuss about the Hawks from their win. The biggest negative clearly being the team’s continued inability to hold on to leads that has been persistent since last season.

“We’re playing well in stretches,” said Coach Budenholzer in his post-game presser, “and we’re playing beneath our standards for significant stretches. All of us, we need to get better.”

After being outscored 35-23 in the fourth quarter against the Pistons on Saturday, the Hawks blew a 17 point halftime lead when Charlotte was able to force overtime. Continue Reading…

The Bulls technically won this game 85-84 after Jimmy Butler hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Which is nice for Chicago fans. It’s nice to win games. The problem with this for me is that the Hawks gave away this preseason game long before Butler’s 20 point fourth quarter.

Why am I almost completely ignoring the fourth quarter? Because this is the preseason and Joakim Noah, Jimmy Butler, and Pau Gasol leading a 20-point, fourth quarter comeback against John Jenkins, Jarell Eddie, and Adreian Payne doesn’t inspire much in terms of what we should expect from this Atlanta Hawks team. (besides that the Hawks clearly care more about resting their main players)

Here is what I did takeaway, though: Atlanta’s starters (sans Jeff Teague and Paul Millsap) and main bench players dominated Chicago’s rotation. The offense was not very efficient, but they were getting good looks, not turning the ball over, and scoring enough to overpower Chicago’s anemic offense.

Al Horford put up four points (2-for-6 shooting) in 16 minutes, but he also had six rebounds, two assists, and a steal. He looked like his usual great self on defense and was progressing the offense by immediately running defensive rebounds up the floor. His jumper is still a bit short, but that is something that should progress as he gets more meaningful minutes on the floor. Horford had a plus-12 rating for the game. Continue Reading…

After 10 months on the sidelines due to a pectoral injury, Al Horford finally returned to action on Tuesday night for a preseason matchup with the Miami Heat.

But it was an inauspicious return for Al Horford, as Chris Bosh won the tip, scored a layup, made a jumper and recorded three rebounds in the first three minutes as the Heat opened on a 14-0 run. Bosh’s two baskets on Horford during that run looked effortless and Horford’s baseline turn-around was well short and unconvincing.

You can’t lay it all on Horford’s plate, however, as the entire starting unit played the first quarter in a listless and disinterested manner. Jeff Teague’s layup and free throw, a pair of threes from DeMarre Carroll and Kyle Korver and a short jumper and layup by Paul Millsap was all the offense the starters were able to muster in the 1st as the Heat built a 31-16 lead heading into the second quarter.

Horford showed signs of life in the second quarter, assisting Mike Scott on a dunk and hitting a 13-footer. However, James Ennis, a player whose rights Danny Ferry traded to the Hawks’ division rivals, made a dunk and hit a corner three to counteract Horford’s positive efforts. Continue Reading…