HAWKS OFFSEASON REVIEW: PART 1
Since the end of the 2009-2010 season, the Hawks Front Office has had a full plate of question marks on their table that need to be answered: will head coach Mike Woodson be back next season, will they resign Joe Johnson, will Marvin Williams or Mike Bibby be moved to upgrade at the 3 or 1, will Josh Childress come back from Greece, will they finally get a 7 foot Center to place next to the undersized Al Horford. We are near the end of the NBA 2010 – 2011 Offseason with most of these questions fully answered. In this 5 part series, I will deliver a full answer and explanation to each of these questions…
1. Will head coach Mike Woodson be returning next season?
No. He will be replaced by Larry Drew; previously the Hawks assistant coach. Being the Hawks head coach for 6 seasons, we have seen a gradual improvement every year in the Wins column starting with the worst season of Hawks history in 2004 – 2005 winning a WHOPPING 13 wins and 69 losses. After that year, everyone knew the Hawks were in rebuild mode and were going to improve through the draft. Each year with Woodson at the helm, we saw the Hawks grow and mature throughout the years. The 2007 – 2008 trade deadline (the acquisition of the veteran Mike Bibby from Sacramento) will always be known as the turning point when the Hawks’ owners, Atlanta Spirit Group (ASG), put money aside and became a contender. Woodson finally had a legit, accomplished, playmaking, point guard to help run this team. In 07-08, the Hawks gave the prime, number 1 seed, Boston Celtics a run for their money losing round 1 in 7 games. In the 2008 – 2009 and 2009 – 2010 season, Woodson’s clan hit a brick wall losing 4 straight games to LeBron’s Cleveland Cavaliers in round 2 of the 08-09 Playoffs and an EMBARRASSING exit in round 2 of the 09-10 Playoffs to Dwight’s Orlando Magic losing 4 straight games by an average of 25.3 points! This was the dagger that ended Woodson’s reign.
Even though Woodson was the coach of an ever-improving Hawks, the question still remains whether the Hawks would have improved just as much, if not more, with another coach at the helm. Woodson was the coach of a young team that added pieces through the Lottery and thus, no matter what he did, the team would improve like this with experience! Well… they did, until the Bibby trade…
REASON 1: Woodson became notorious for playing more experienced players and not helping in the development of rookies (look at Sheldon Williams, Solomon Jones, Acie Law, Jeff Teague). You can question whether or not they were busts, but there is no question that good coaching can find a player’s strengths and expose them, rather than letting them ROT on the bench.
REASON 2: Woodson was a defensive-minded coach that addressed the team, “…I don’t give a s*** about offense…” while “SLAM” journalist Lang Whitaker was taking notes. I don’t care who you are, but a team that has so many offensive weapons could have been used more efficiently than Woody’s signature offensive play: the ISO! Come on Woody… Ball movement!
REASON 3: Having the same coach for 6 seasons, players tend to tune you out. If you preach the same story every game, you’re bound to be muted.
REASON 4: Woody’s contract was up. It was either re-sign Woody or sign a new head coach (Larry Drew) for less money. The Hawks Owners have always had a tight hold of their pockets. They could see the ship sinking with Woody anyway.
As a token of appreciation, I just wanted to say thank you, Woody, for 6 seasons of having the questionable title of improving the Hawks from a 13 win team… to 53. I will always remember when you shaved your eyebrows, becoming a seal. Don’t be upset about losing your job either. Last season’s win total will be hard to top next season.