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Why I'm Scared, And Why I'm Not: Atlanta

In the coming weeks, I'm going to try (emphasis on try) and analyze our competitors in the Southeast Division and take a look at what makes them dangerous in the coming season, and what helps us sleep easier at night.  This is kind of like the community projections except that:

A) No predictions on records will be made.

B) This series will be conducted in bullet point form as opposed to paragraph form.

C) These only pertain to the Southeast Division.

D) These will generally be much more poorly written than the Community Projections.

But other than that, they're kind of the same...but not really.

Why I'm scared:

  • The Hawks six top players (Bibby, Johnson, Smith, Horford, Williams, and Pachulia) are all under the age of 30 (EDIT: except Bibby, who is exactly 30), and I don't see any of them dropping off this season.
  • Josh Smith.  He's pretty good.
  • I mentioned this in the competition discussion, but I'm going to repeat it again, don't count out Acie Law in your calculation on this team.  He didn't do a whole lot last season, but with some more time in the system, I think he'll be able to do a lot more this time around.
  • If this doesn't give you nightmares, nothing will:

Why I'm not scared:

  • As well as they played last year, they still finished 8 games under .500.  If you think that will get a playoff spot this year, raise your hand.
  • I like Mo Evans a lot, but if the Hawks think he'll be able to replicate what they lost in Josh Childress, they're going to be sorely disappointed.
  • You have to think that at some point within the next year or so the Hawks will have to find a way to orchestrate the alpha-dog transition from Joe Johnson to Josh Smith.  Maybe it won't hurt team chemistry at all, but it very well could.
  • Mike Woodson's career winning percentage: .323%
  • Salim Stoudamire had the second best points per 36 average on the squad last season.  His FG%? .361.  Understandably, it doesn't look like he'll be back next season.

Atlanta is the real wild card in the East in my opinion.  I could see them putting it all together and angling for a 5-6 seed if Smith, Horford, Law, and Williams all take the next step.  On the other hand, they may have put expectations a little too high after their series with Boston last year and I could very well see them missing the playoffs entirely if Josh Smith and Mike Woodson start to have problems again, or if Bibby starts squabbling with someone, or a host of other problems that could come up as they try to live up to those expectations.  Right now, I've got them in the 8-10 range in the East, but a lot of that hinges on how much better Josh Smith gets now that he has that new contract.