With the lockout likely to linger well into October and perhaps into November, trying to preview the season of 30 teams that might not actually have one seems about as worthwhile as raking leaves on a windy day. But I love raking and the wind only makes it last longer. We here at Razzball have you covered, even if you didn’t want to be covered. That’s love. You’ll appreciate it when you’re older. Look at it this way, the only way any of this stuff can be disproven is if the season starts. So go ahead, NBA, make me a fibber! I dare you. Until then, consider this fantasy basketball gospel. Don’t even bother reading anything else – dem’s all lies. From now until the start of the season, we’re bringing you the 2011 Fantasy Team Previews, which will focus on each team in order to paint a clearer fantasy picture. Who’s starting? Who might surprise you? And who might make you want to hurl yourself off a bridge in a few months. Enjoy! Next up – The Atlanta Hawks (Ugh. There’s no way this team looks like this come Opening Day.)
Gained – Keith Benson, the first Hispanic owner in NBA history
Lost – Josh Powell, Hilton Armstrong, Pape Sy (I had to look that up)
Probable position depth –
PG – Kirk Hinrich, Jeff Teague
SG – Joe Johnson, Jamal Crawford
SF – Marvin Williams, Damien Wilkins
PF – Josh Smith, Keith Benson, Magnum Rolle
C – Al Horford, Zaza Pachulia, Jason Collins, Etan Thomas
Surprising Team Fact From Last Season – The playoff fifth-seeds were ranked 29th in Blk, Stl, ORbd, FTm/FTta and ranked 28th in minutes and TRbd, proving once again that they can make the playoffs all they want, there is still absolutely nothing likable about the Atlanta Hawks.
Number of Top 20 Fantasy Players (par 0-1) – 2, Horford, Smith
Number of Top 50 Fantasy Players (par 1-2) – 3, Johnson
Number of Top 75 Fantasy Players (par 2-3) – 0
Number of Top 100 Fantasy Players (par 3-4) – 0
Number of Top 200 Fantasy Players (par 6-7) – 6, Teague, Crawford, Hinrich
3 Concerns Heading Into the Season
1. Who is the starting PG of this team?
Today? Hinrich. But Teague’s 12/2/4 line in last year’s playoffs convinced me that Teague’s biggest problem is confidence. The Hawks tried Teague out as a starter during the preseason because no one in their right mind wants Mike Bibby starting for them. Teague choked. Bibby was sent packing and Kirk Hinrich came in, Teague still failed to show us anything. It wasn’t until Hinrich went down with an injury and there was no one left to run the point that Teague exploded for a 19/3/4 four-game stretch against the Bulls in Games 2-5. Hinrich is more likely to be used as trade bait at some point this season than remain the team’s starting guard. Even if he stays, Jamal Crawford isn’t likely to, and Hinrich will see a lot of time at the two. Either way, if deferring to the established guard is Teague’s MO, it’s not likely to work in 2011, because there isn’t likely to be an established guard to defer to. If I were drafting today, I’d grab Teague before Hinrich and hope that someone gets traded or let go. You have to figure one of the two will happen. Much like watching two drunks throwing punches, you can only sit back and hope that at least one of them sticks.
2. When will the Hawks rid itself of Marvin Williams and tell all the kids he went to a nice farm upstate?
10/5/1, 1.5 stl+blk+3ptm averages from the second pick in the 2005 draft. This was the third best season of Marvin Gaye Williams’ six-year career. Anyway, by the time you start thinking about drafting a fifth SF in your fantasy draft, there will be plenty of rookies with upsides compelling enough to draw you away from Williams.
3. Can we only award two points for every three-pointer Josh Smith makes so maybe he’ll stop taking so many of them?
I know, I know. Smoove sank a career-high 51 treys while maintaining a career-high .331 3P% last season. Doesn’t matter. Shizz messed up his game. When Smith is motivated and energized, he’s like an well-raised toddler who loves eating fruits and vegetables. Post All-Star Break Smith was like watching that same kid visit with the dirty neighborhood kid who owns all three Jackass movies and doesn’t seem to have any parents. All of sudden that kid comes back with a Fruit Rollup weaved into his hair, scorch marks on his shoes stinking of fart. Before the All-Star Break, Smith made .348 percent of his three-point attempts. After the All-Star Break, he only sank .282 percent. He’s fun to own, but only when he’s energized and threes usually mean he’s not energized.
Rookie Review! – No. 48 overall pick Keith Benson is the only rookie that made a dent in Atlanta’s lineup and really, unless Atlanta’s lineup is made of tin foil, I’m not sure Benson is heavy enough to make a dent. Basically, the kid is a waif with arms like Super Ropes. The thing with lanky arms is that they’re usually attached to lanky men who aren’t powerful enough to put them to good use. Benson has a soft touch around the rim (which he’ll never get close to because he’s too small to earn position), a long wingspan good for shot blocking (in theory – most of his college competition came at the hands of a weak Summit League schedule). Basically, if this kid can gain 30 pounds of muscle and know how to incorporate it into his currently lithe game, maybe then he can play more than 10 mpgs behind Josh Smith. Stay away until that day.
Fantasy Disappointment in ’11 – Joe Johnson. He’s still a top 10 SG and this team’s third-best player, but he’s no longer an elite guard (I limit my elites to five) and I’m not sure the word about Joe Johnson’s slow downward spiral is out yet. Everything declined for the Armadillo Cowboy last season: His percentages, his counting stats, his scoring dipped by three points a game in 2010 right along with his minutes. His PER was the lowest its been since his final season with Phoenix in 2004 and his ORtg saw it’s lowest fall since 2003. He’s not old exactly, he’ll only be 30, but Johnson is aging in dog years. Come the spring, he’ll be playing like he’s 37 … a good 37, but still.
Biggest Fantasy Contributor in ’11 – Al Horford. He’s not playing more, he’s playing better. His PER has gone from 15 in 2007 to 17 to 19 to 21 last season. He improved his scoring and passing whilst maintaining the exact same turnover average an minutes played as the year before. Did you like the addition of “whilst?” It’s classy.
Deep Sleeper – Jeff Teague. I think we’ve spoken about Mr. Teague enough here today.