So we've seen some big changes this offseason. The starting 5 is the same as it was at the end of last year, but the bench is radically different. Marvin "Sexual Healing" Williams is officially a deserving starter. Josh 2 has now become "Josh". What will happen to this team? Micah Hart from the Hawks asked me and others to participate in another blogger roundtable, asking "What will it take for the Hawks to make a repeat appearance in the postseason in 2008-09?"
For the Hawks to make it to the postseason again, a few things will need to fall into place. Assuming we can count on Al Horford and Joe Johnson putting on the hard hats again, the rest of the team still has lingering question marks. Most importantly, Mike Bibby needs to become a leader on offense. We saw flashes of it last year, but his ability to knock down open threes and put the ball in the hands of Marvin and Josh when they are cutting to the basket make the entire offense better. Woodson seemed to trust Bibby to handle it, and hopefully that continues. Here's hoping that Bibby's struggles stem from injury and not from age.
Speaking of the two young forwards, Marvin and Josh need to become big time leaders this year. If they both have an off night, it is really tough for this Hawks team to win. We all know that Marvin and Josh have the ability to take over a game on offense, and we've even seen Josh do it a few times. For the Hawks to return to the playoffs, both of these guys need to have great years. Both.
Finally, the bench needs to be strong. I have confidence in Acie Law, but he needs to see minutes and then do something with those minutes. Flip Murray needs to put up some good +/- numbers for me to feel better about losing one of the most productive 6th men in the league. The rest of the bench is mostly unproven, and inevitable injuries to< the starting 5 will push some of them to the front. If Joe Johnson misses 2 weeks and the team goes 1-7, that obviously makes the playoffs an even more difficult goal. This team is still very thin, so everyone staying healthy could make the bench seem that much better.
A few other notes on my mind:
As a pathetic excuse for an NBA fan, I have to desperately figure out who the hell Ronald Murray is and why I should be afraid for the Hawks.
"The Consensus" seems to be that Mike Bibby is too old and is on the decline. I'm not convinced he wasn't just really hampered by injury. I could be wrong.
I think Acie Law is for real. I'm not convinced Mike Woodson will let him play. I am worried for Acie Law.
How good is Al Horford? Can he actually improve? Is this guy ready to be an all-star?
What if everyone on the team bought in to Woodson's defensive plan, and it really did create an offense based on quick transitions?
Is this bench awful, like everyone says? Or is it awesome, like Sekou and Hawks officials say?