The season is still two months away, but most of the rosters are set, barring the requisite Michael Jordan comeback rumor (just kidding, but only a little). We have an idea where our team stands, but we can't really know unless we discuss everyone else. In that spirit, I'm going to throw up a "competition discussion" thread for each of the other 29 teams over the next month or so. We'll go in alphabetical order from A to Z. Today's team: Atlanta.
Last Year's Record: 30-52
In: Al Horford (draft), Acie Law (draft)
Out: Royel Ivey, Slava Medvedenko (yes, that Slava Medvedenko)
Projected Starting Lineup: Tyronn Lue, Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Marvin Williams, Zaza Pachulia.
Bench (in no particular order): Acie Law, Speedy Claxton, Anthony Johnson, Josh Childress, Salim Stoudamire, Al Horford, Shelden Williams, Solomon Jones, Lorenzen Wright.
So what do we think? What do you think their record will be? Is Law the answer at point guard? How soon will Horford take the power forward position from Marvin Williams? Can Josh Smith shake off his immaturity and finally put it all together? Will Joe Johnson take another step forward? Can Zaza Pachulia finally have a bad game against us?
Personally, I think there's too much talent here to win any fewer than 35 games if everyone stays relatively healthy, but the point guard position will kill them. I actually like them more than Orlando, to be honest. They were killed by injuries last year -- Johnson missed 25 games, Lue and Childress missed 26 and 27 respectively, Claxton was out for half the year, and Marvin Williams missed 18 -- and still managed to win 4 more games than the year before. Sure, that's not saying much, but there's talent there. I just really don't like Acie Law at the point. With all the athletes they have, they need a point guard that is comfortable playing up-tempo, and Law's not that guy. Texas A&M played at the 235th-fastest pace in the nation last year, squarely in the bottom third percentile, and that was mostly because Law was so crafty in the halfcourt. What this team really needs is a bigger point that can also push the ball (think Andre Miller or even Javaris Crittenton), and none of their three points fit the bill. That'll ultimately cause them to fall short of the playoffs, but Horford is a stud, Smith is so athletic, Johnson is one of the league's most underrated players, and Pachulia is becoming a solid big man.
I say 38-44. What say you?