Tuesday, July 12, 2005
Great article on the Hawks on Sports Guy's page...
but naturally, it's not by the page's namesake, who can't say anything about the local basketball collective without bitching about the fact that Hawks fans don't sell the place out to see a team that hasn't been to the playoffs since the time that Britney Spears was a cute popster dancing around in a Catholic school girl's outfit and longingly looking into the camera, wondering what it would be like to take a boy's pants off. Instead, his intern, Kevin Cott, comes through with this strong piece, written before the Draft, about his evolution as a Hawks fan.
Mine was fairly similar. I had a love affair with the 'Nique teams of the late 80s because they were the only good team in Atlanta and they were so much fun to watch. I disagree, though, on the 'Nique trade. In retrospect, it didn't work out because the team lost to the Pacers in six and didn't play up to their #1 seed. However, 'Nique was starting to show signs of decline, and it's likely that the team wasn't going to the Finals with him, either. He was shooting 43.2% from the field in '94, the lowest FG% of his career. He had a negative assist/turnover ratio for the first time since the '85-'86 season. Manning was a more efficient player and was motivated by being in the last year of his deal. What ultimately did that '94 team in was their inability to score and that was true with 'Nique or Manning playing at the three. And giving up the first round pick didn't matter because it ended up being one of the last picks in the first round and the Clippers used it to take the immortal Greg Minor.
I agree with the rest of the piece. Pete Babcock's drafts were beyond inept (and apparently, the other NBA GM apple from the Babcock tree is also infested with "make you draft bad players" worms. Enjoy, Toronto, and f*** you for the '92 World Series.) Babcock did a decent job at assembling the Mutombo-Blaylock-Smith team, but his terrible drafting prevented that team from integrating fresh blood, so when they finally got old, the rebuilding was rough and made worse by the decision to go for broke with Shareef, Ratliff, and Glenn Robinson, rather than building the right way. Billy Knight has done a good job so far. I hold Josh Childress in slightly higher regard than Cott does, although I'm assuming that he'll learn to shoot at some point so he can be a good shooting guard. His drafting has been fairly good so far and he's resisted the urge to take shortcuts by taking overpriced vets. He's after the right guys right now - Tyson Chandler, Sam Dalembert, and Eddy Curry, hopefully in that order - and his solid drafting has made the team a more attractive option.
I reserve the right to take this all back and call Billy the worst Knight since Michael if he blows the Al Harrington chip on someone like Stephon Marbury. He tried to blow the Hawks' cap space on Erick Dampier last summer, so it isn't like Billy is incapable of committing resources on flawed players.