Friday, February 15, 2008

Hawks & Horford Have Bright Future

Since 1990-91, only nine rookies have finished their first season averaging ten or more rebounds per game. Al Horford is currently in that group and assuming he will average more minutes during the second half of the season, he will most likely be the tenth player in the group.

The nine past players include: Shaquille O'Neal, Dikembe Mutombo, Tim Duncan, Larry Johnson, Emeka Okafor, Alonzo Mourning, Derrick Coleman, Dwight Howard, and Elton Brand.

So with Horford, the Atlanta Hawks clearly have a great, young player to start with. Besides Horford, the Hawks have a variety of other players:

Scoring Star
Joe Johnson - wrapped up through 2009-10 season

Promising Young Players
Marvin Williams - Signed through the 2009-10 season
Acie Law - Signed through the 2011-12 season
Shelden Williams - Signed through 2010-11 season

Long-Term Veteran Contracts
Speedy Claxton - Signed through 2009-10 season
Zaza Pachulia - Signed through next season
Solomon Jones - Signed through next season

Restricted Free Agents After This Season
Josh Childress - $4,844,355 Qualifying Offer
Josh Smith - $3,167,882 Qualifying Offer

Expiring Contracts
Tyronn Lue
Lorenzen Wright
Anthony Johnson
Salim Stoudamire
Mario West

Standing second-to-last in the NBA in three point shooting, the Hawks badly need another shooter. Both Mike Miller and Wally Szczerbiak can be had for the Hawks' expiring contracts - around $12,000,000.

Childress has shown that he can be a reliable, versatile reserve, but is probably nothing more than that. Shelden Williams looks like a complete mistake of a pick being chosen fifth overall by Atlanta.

So what do the Hawks need to do to reach their short-term (playoffs) and long-term (championship) goals? First, trade all five of the Hawks expiring contracts and a future draft pick to Seattle for Delonte West and Wally Szczerbiak. With a starting lineup of West, Johnson, Szczerbiak, Smith, Horford with Williams, Pachulia, Law, and Childress coming off the bench.

This upcoming offseason, the Hawks should look to bring back Childress and Smith, along with trying to deal Shelden Williams and Speedy Claxton. At the end of this season, the Hawks need to either resign the newly acquired Szczerbiak or bring in a similar type of perimeter score to space the ball in Atlanta.

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