Cause For Concern

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Now that NBA.com’s John Schuhmann has straightened us out on the true importance of the preseason, we’ve identified some other teams whose showing this month requires further study.

We spotlighted one of the big winners — Minnesota — Monday morning, and could have included the Hang Time Grizzlies. They’ve demolished the opposition as well, winning all seven of their preseason games, prompting this gem from my main man Ron Tillery of the Commercial Appeal:

The last time the Griz won seven preseason games was before the 2003-04 campaign. They went on to win 50 regular-season games and earn the first of three straight playoff berths.

“Whoa,” center Marc Gasol said. “I don’t want to talk about that.”

But not everyone is enjoying this time.

The Hornets and Hawks have combined for just two preseason wins to go along with nine losses.

And just so we’re clear folks, Schuhmann’s numbers don’t lie:

In the past six seasons, 11 teams have gone through the preseason either undefeated or with one loss and all 11 have made the playoffs. During that same span eight teams have won just one game or have gone winless, and only one of those eight teams (the 2007-08 Cavaliers) made the playoffs.

That’s cause for concern in New Orleans, where expectations are admittedly lower than they have been in recent years, due mostly to the drama surrounding Chris Paul and all the front office and coaching (Monty Williams) changes that have gone on. Dell Demps knew he was taking over a tough situation when he left San Antonio to help resurrect the franchise in the Crescent City. One thing the Hornets do have going for them, though, is all of the principle figures are on the same page, per John Reid of the Times Picayune:

After a summer of turmoil involving trade rumors regarding Paul and whether he could be happy playing for the franchise, having him on board is vital for Williams, who was hired in June and is the league’s youngest head coach at 39.

Also important is West accepting the changes Williams has implemented. Williams emphasized West becoming a better defender and also score and rebound more in the low post rather than settling for step-back jumpers.

“Chris and David lead in different ways,” Williams said. “David may take a guy to the side and say some things to him. Chris is talking, and he knows what we want to do on offense. I don’t know any head coaching job that’s easy, but it certainly benefits me having Chris.”

That’s cause for concern/panic in Atlanta, where expectations are as high as they’ve been in the last decade for a team coming off a 53-win season with the top eight players of the rotation intact. Sure, the rest of the Southeast Division beefed up tremendously in the offseason, particularly Miami. And new coach Larry Drew has had to deal with a litany of injuries throughout this preseason. But how do the Hawks explain the listless defensive performances and peculiar offensive power outages that have plagued them this month? Monday night’s beat down at the hands of Orlando paints a bleak picture, per Michael Cunningham of the Journal Constitution:

The Hawks have used their loss to Orlando in the Eastern Conference semifinals last May as motivation for this season. The Magic swept the Hawks with a total winning margin of 101 points, an NBA record.

Before the game Monday Drew said this is a “new year” with a “new attitude” for the Hawks. Instead, there was the same feeble offense, defensive breakdowns and visible frustration that usually show up in their games against Orlando.

The Hawks led 1-0, tied it at 3-3, and then trailed from the rest of the way. Atlanta trailed just 44-34 at the half despite missing 29 of 41 shots but Orlando scored 35 points in the third quarter to pull away.

The Magic won their 20th consecutive preseason game.

“That team is on a mission and we’ve got to get like that,” Drew said. “They are certainly a measuring stick. They are getting the job done now; they are now waiting until the regular season. We have to do the same.”

The Hawks better hurry up and get started because the regular season starts in a week.

29 Comments

  1. [...] This season had hype, Capital letters HYPE. Unfortunately the hype had some journalists jumping the gun like Sekou Smith from nba.com, specifically his article outlining what he thought was a strong correlation between the pre-season and regular season (the original article can be laughed at here). [...]

  2. [...] of all, Sekou Smith, of NBA.com’s Hang Time Blog, posted that Minnesota and Memphis fans have reason for optimism, while New Orleans and Atlanta [...]

  3. six6heat says:

    The hawks are stuck for the next 6 years with that joe johnson contract..they will be surpassed this year by the bulls, the bucks, the heat, the bobcats, the celtics and magic were better last year and will continue to dominate the hawks…in in the next 3 to 4 years the nets and the knicks will surpass them. they will be the 7 or 8 seeds and be done in 5 games in the playoffs. they have some pieces to get better but are afraid to pull the trigger. the stands are half full and your super star is really a #2 guy pretending to be a #1…trade horford for marc gasol, that gives you a true center who can bang with perkins from boston and pull howard out of the paint in orlando. he will give the heat problems because they are not on the radar at the center position and size will give them problems. trade marvin williams for for anything, get a specialist, a 3 point shooter a shot blocker a rebounder, i mean anything..they need people who are great at something not just good athletes….but that contract will limit them for years and joe johnson will not live up to it…coach will be fired in 3 years and the fan base will turn really ugly…good luck hawks your window has closed.

  4. Magnum says:

    The problem with Atlanta is that they have 2 great power forwards playing together. Making Horford as an undersized center.

  5. Goto Guy says:

    Hope the Clippers really make some progress, Griffin seems like the real deal. If B.Diddy can be inspired to play ball to the best of his talents then LA could have two playoff teams. It’s a matter of attitude and desire in Clipperland to mae the playoffs, they have the personnel already anyway. How I wished that that Russian dude just bought the Clips from Strerling as he’s the worst owner in the league.

  6. Goto Guy says:

    The Hawks are just trying to be relevant for the most part. They’re still where they were a year ago, Joe Johnson is no primary star but a second fiddle.

    The Hawks wasted all their money on Johnson, the cast needs a major revamp as early as now if they can’t get a real franchise player. They should think long term and see who can play a role in their future. Maybe they wouldn’t do that because they’ve been a doormat team for a long time until Johnson came along and their string of good luck in draft picks.
    However that’s all irrelevant now, they want to get to the next level then they need to raise the level of their roster.

    The Hornets are pitiful, they have one of the top talents of the NBA. However they don’t know how to build a roster around him. I really feel bad whenever I see a player as good as Paul waste his time with a franchise that says they want to win but yet are kind of halfhearted when you look at their actions. I still can’t see why they traded for Okafor, he’s a role player, undersized for a center and really is just a better version of Charles Oakley, a good player but one you wouldn’t trust the interior defense of you’re team to. Then there’s West, He’s a SF physically but plays the 4 because he’s to slow for the 3. Isn’t really a decent defender and an ok rebounder, but he needs a real big man to have his bac as help defense. That’s why Chandler was a better fit (if he was healthy). Ariza could be the ideal 3 guy for Paul, he’s athletic, long, defends, rebounds and can finish plus he can occasionally shoot.

    Just trade Paul and Ariza to the Magic and help them out, get Lewis and Carter, Then move out of New Orleans and start rebuilding.

  7. Chris Masters says:

    ✭NEITHER the Hawks NOR the Hornets is making the playoffs this year.✭ The Hawks CONTINUE to disrespect the league by outright REFUSING to play Al Horford at the PF spot and picking up A REAL CENTER! Scoring is not their problem: their problem is that they get PUMMELED EVERYTIME they play a team with a decent center and/ or rebounders.

    The Hornets weren’t going to make the playoffs anyway because Chris Paul is easily the most overrated player in the game today. He is a product of GREAT coaching from Byron Scott. They under-appreciated his efforts with Chris Paul’s progression (where they let him do WHATEVER he wanted for 3 good years) and now look at what’s happened with Chris Paul – the guy’s 2X worse than Iverson in his prime. At least the 76ers MADE the Finals! Even worse, check the stats. CHRIS PAUL DOES NOT MAKE HIS TEAMMATES BETTER!!!
    He RUINED Peja Stojakovic’s career (how do you have one of the greatest shooters of all time on your team, and you can’t set him up for an open shot?)

    He tried to stifle Darren Collison’s growth
    He ruined Emeka Okafor’s career (how do you explain the excitement surrounding Emeka’s arrival last year? Because everybody thought Chris Paul was a real PG. They thought he would deliver a career year for Emeka, but I knew better…)

    You heard it here first:

    ✭THE LAKERS WILL STRUGGLE TO WIN 50 GAMES THIS YEAR✭ AND WILL GET HUMILIATED IN THE FIRST ROUND OF THE PLAYOFFS. THEY ✭WILL NOT MAKE IT TO THE 2ND ROUND!✭

  8. Jake says:

    I don’t put much weight on preseason results. I remember one year the Spurs lost every single pre season game, and they won the NBA Championship.

  9. azur3d says:

    ATL is lacking of rebounding prowess… i think they are having problems with rebounds on both offensive and defensive..

    thats why joe johnson gotta do the rebounding job too which gives opponent alot more shooting opportunities.. they need

    1 or 2 solid tall rebounders like either o’neals, eddy curry,noah, miller, dalembert

  10. piffboy says:

    nobody wants emeka with dat contract how u gonna get pieces if noone wants him??my man ike u buggin if u think dat ill put money that sixers aint even in the lottery this year..

  11. ike says:

    THE SIXERS WILL BE THE WORST TEAM IN THE LEAGUE.YOU HEARD IT FROM ME

  12. Mohammed says:

    CP3 needs to shoot more threes. Without that, the Hornets can sum up enough points. Sure he’s passing well and hustling but its not enough considering their roster. They don’t have the element of surprise that they had in CP3′s
    rookie year either. Its gonna be a tough season for them.

  13. Paul says:

    I would like to see some lineup changes in the ATL because the one they have now will not get it done as the league is growing and all the top teams keep getting better.

  14. lofty says:

    LOL GIRZZ???? now that was a good one! :)

  15. Ben says:

    So what do you have to say about the Lakers…well they have only won one pre-season game…Now What???

  16. Ismail Pamuk says:

    I think that the new orleans hornets are done and the grizzlies will be in the playoff race now but what about orlando? I’m really impressed with them because everybody was talking about the miami heat while orlando is really playing good and winning games with 20+ points difference.

  17. notnilc20 says:

    Go Grizzlies!! Look for them to hit the 50 win mark this season…..only reason they didn’t make the playoffs last season is b/c they had to deal with the Allen Iverson drama.

  18. ZULU says:

    A coaching change may or may not have been needed. For the ownership and G.M. to sit on their brains and wallets while all serious change was going down with the serious contenders? Speaks volumes to the point that major changes were needed and didn’t take place. Hawks are still a top lower tier team…

  19. nola504 says:

    I can’t wait til the hornets get healthy and shock many people by making the playoffs and having a good season. the hornets are not in trouble because the season hasnt even started yet. Also west and okafor have not played in the preaseason. that is 2 starters out, which makes it very tough to win. Just wait until the season starts and we shall see.

    • KINGKOBE says:

      Dude the hornets will not make the playoffs this year. Matter fact, the hornets wont be going to the playoffs for a long while. Chris Paul will be leaving when his contrat is up and all hopes of the hornets making it to the playoffs will go up in smoke.

  20. THE REAL CUBA OF BOSTON says:

    THIS JUST IN (CP3) will be heading over to NEWJERSEY next season , as will MELO so thats why the HORNETS are just playing becuase they are contracted to, the NETS are are about to pay hard , and they will have the money ,
    so it will be CP3-, DEV-HARRIS,and MELO. FAVORS right should be interesting. as for the HAWKS they just need to refocus they will make the playoffs , low 5or 6 seed no home court for them this year.
    but they better stay focused , cuz other teams in the EAST are going to want t dance as well. and if WALL and ARENAS GEL thy could sneak in and mess up the whole rankings for the lower seeds. and they both have reason to bring it this year WALL (rookie of the yr) ARENAS (cleanup image of the year) lol

  21. N.T. says:

    CP3 needs to get out of N.O. The players around are no good (West is better than average but he can’t play defense). Atlanta won’t perform again, and probably will make moves before the trading deadline. They should have never gave Johnson the max; he definitely doesn’t deserve it because he’s not that good and when they start losing he’ll get the burden of the blame and the rest of guys won’t want to perform. Just my opinion.

  22. Nice analysis. Would be interesting to see what happens in the regular season !!

  23. glynn says:

    Coming from GA i’m REALLY disappointed in the hawks. Okay we got Jordan Crawford which was a steal in the draft because imo he was worth going top 10 or top 15 in the draft.

    But that means the offense still rely on Joe Johnson, Jamal Crawford and now Jordan Crawford. I still have yet to figure out what Marvin Williams bring to the team! He brings NO offense and sub par defense! He’s good enough to be just a role player imo. If you can’t bring at least 14 – 18 reliable points a game from that small forward position then why are you starting?

    I say they trade away marvin williams for a small forward that can help their offense. The SF position is the weakest link in the hawks lineup. Bibby is still decent at 20 – 25 mins a game becuz we have crawford on the bench. Now we have Jordan Crawford… I would love to see lineups like

    1. Jamal Crawford
    2. Jordan Crawford
    3. Joe Johnson
    4. Josh Smith
    5. Al Horford

    I would like to see the unit together playing LOTS of mins. It wouldn’t hurt for them to get a reliable backup PF and C as well. They need a center with mass and great footwork to go against howard…so if dexter pittman get cut from miami, i expect the hawks to pick him up ASAP if they expect to make a decent playoff run this year.

    Josh smith also needs to use more of his athleticism to get rebounds and draw fouls. Nobody can stop him when he’s flying through the air they can just foul, so he should take pride in being the most athletic power foward (Blake Griffin might be now tho) in the game.

    As far as the hornets go….paul just need to get out of there. I will admit their starting lineup is 2x as good as it was last year. But where is the bench??? I only see Marcus Thorton as the ONLY reliable bench player on the hornets, as well as peja. However, putting belinelli at the 2 and ariza at the 3 is a huge upgrade from last year. But who will backup emaka and david west when they get tired? They have NO good backup big men and that has been there problem over the last couple of seasons.

    There starting lineup is playoff caliber, but the overall team isn’t because the bench is such a fail. They traded cole aldrich which was INCREDIBLY dumb. I mean, he could have maybe been the starting center for these guys that way they could trade emaka and get a few key pieces and draft picks for their bench. Thus making them a team like they were in 2007-2008 season. But giving away cole aldrich to another young team, thunder was just stupid. You guys just helped them more then you helped yourselves. They had a nick collison and kristic to play center. They had more depth at center then we had at center. We got a powerfoward playing center and a real super slow center named aaron gray.

    Now imagine if they had cole aldrich at he 5 alongside david west and had emaka in even a sixth man role. That would of made the team 10x better then it is now becuz the bench would of had depth.

    All on top of that, theres a rookie coach. I’d say another fail 35 – 42 win season for the hornets, unless they make some serious moves during the regular season to fix their bench problems.

    • piffboy says:

      nobody wants emeka with dat contract how u gonna get pieces if noone wants him??my man ike u buggin if u think dat ill put money that sixers aint even in the lottery this year

  24. grimlavich says:

    well the hornets not makin the playoffs. the hawks are but they gonna lose. its gettin sad. the hornets might and should lose cp3 cause hes the only one doing work. i wanna see if the hornets can beat the nets. thats the tru test if they are trash

  25. mishing says:

    but that is all i can do it hope, or like to see something.

  26. mishing says:

    Yep, I think both those teams in trouble. and it would be cool to see the grizz improve alot this season. I hope the lakers losing alot in the preseason is not going to mean they will be declined from last season. and I hope the heat doing what theyve done would mean they will not do as well as thought.