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    09/07/2011 10:47 PM
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2013 NBA Championship Odds and Betting Preview: Atlanta Hawks

The NBA season is right around the corner and the Atlanta Hawks 2013 NBA Championship Odds are currently at 125-1 ($100 bet pays $12700). They are 45-1 to win the Eastern Conference and their over/under season win total projection is 42,5. Below is the overall season preview by Pregame Pro André Gomes

Joe Johnson isn’t a Atlanta Hawks player anymore and even though he had been very criticized, including by the Hawks fans, especially about his overpaid contract, the truth is that Johnson went to six All Star games in a row, he watched his team turn from a terrible team with 14 wins into one of the most competitive teams in the East, while being the team’s leading scorer and carrying the Hawks into the postseason over the last five seasons.

However, it was clear that with their current configuration, the Hawks were always be a good team, but not good enough to become an elite team. The new GM Danny Ferry realized that and by taking advantage of the Nets’ desire in impressing Deron Williams, Ferry traded Johnson to the Nets in exchange for some players with expiring contracts and a future first round draft pick.

2011-12 Regular Season numbers:

Advanced Numbers

4 Factors

Overall

#'s

Rank

Offense

#'s

Rank

Defense

#'s

Rank

Pace

88.84

23

eFG% Off

50.1%

8

eFG% Def

48.2%

10

Offense

106.68

16

TO% Off

13.38

12

TO% Def

14.41

6

Defense

102.84

6

Reb% Off

23.72

26

Reb% Def

25.53

7

Rebound

49.09

25

FT% Off

19.22

25

FT% Def

18.81

5

 

Atlanta had a problematic year last season, especially when they lost Al Horford in January. Still, the team reacted well to Horford’s injury and won 9 of their following 11 games, until they reached February where Atlanta simply stopped scoring. The main reason for that was easily to realize: Joe Johnson shot 39.3% FG, Josh Smith shot 41.1% FG and Jeff Teague shot 42.2% FG. No team can survive when their three best players shot that poorly for a full month.

Atlanta Hawks month-by-month record:

Months

W

L

PACE

Off. H

Off. A

Reb%

January

16

6

89.3

107.4

98.9

49.8

February

4

9

87.7

96.9

105.2

47.9

March

11

8

88.1

106.7

105.9

49.1

April

9

3

90.5

115.9

102.7

49.1


After having recovered from a terrible month of February, the Hawks finished the season with the 5th best record in the Eastern conference and so, they faced Boston in the first round of the playoffs. The series became especially interesting with the return of Al Horford in the 4th game. Horford played 3 games and had good numbers, but Atlanta was never able to deal with Boston’s bigger experience at this level.

Offseason moves 2012-13:

Besides the already mentioned trade of Joe Johnson to the Nets, the Hawks made other moves during this offseason.

Several players had expiring contracts with Atlanta and they had no interest in renewing with Kirk Hinrich, Jerry Stackhouse, Vladimir Radmanovic, Jason Collins and Tracy McGrady.

To improve the backcourt, Atlanta traded Marvin Williams, who never confirmed the potential the Hawks saw on him, for Devin Harris and also improved the unit with several good shooters: Kyle Korver, Anthony Morrow and Louis Williams.

On the frontcourt, the team expects that the returns from Al Horford and Zaza Pachulia will be enough to take care of the team’s needs for this unit, while at the same time they only added Anthony Tolliver to give more depth to the unit.

 

A new playing style for the team

Coach Larry Drew has confirmed that the Hawks will play with a different style to the one that they used during the Joe Johnson era. Atlanta was always known for being a half court team, but having in account the arrival of several players known for their offensive skills, Larry Drew has already stated what he wants from the team this season:

"Our game, obviously, is going to be in the open floor and in transition. But still we have to establish ourselves in the low post and force teams to have to defend us down there, force teams to double team us down there." 

With that, Al Horford will have to assume the main role on the team this season. Horford has been a very efficient player on offense, as in fact over the last three seasons, he has always shot above 55% FG, something that says well about his value while he has also been averaging almost 10 rebounds per game. The biggest challenge for this season will be not only to know how well he will be physically, but how he will react in being Atlanta’s “franchise player” and so, the player that will receive the biggest volume of plays designed for him.

Horford will share the team’s leadership with Josh Smith, who assumed the main role on the team’s offense by being the player with more FG attempts per game from the team with 17.6 FGA/Game! This bigger offensive responsibility didn’t result on a raise of his efficiency, who keeps shooting too much from the perimeter – last season he attempted 6.3 FGA/game from 16-23 feet, while his previous career high on this area was 4.3 FGA/game, that had been established on the previous season.

Still, Smith improved in all the remaining numbers, while showing that he can be an elite player if he keeps himself focused and motivated. With Joe Johnson leaving the team, this is the right time for Smith to have a breakthrough and establish himself as an elite player.

Who will be the team’s starting PG?

Jeff Teague played very good on the playoffs two seasons ago and the Hawks decided to make him the team’s starting PG last season and we can say this was a good decision: Teague played in every game from the regular season, while averaging 33.1 minutes per game. Naturally, he had more opportunity to shoot the basket, but he took well these chances by being effective with 47.6% FG. With Joe Johnson having the ball on his hands, Teague had “just” 4.9 assists per game, so this season will be important for Teague to show that he can be a guard with good vision.

He will have to fight for the job with Devin Harris, who is coming to Atlanta on a deal that at first sight looked like a financial one. Harris was one of the key pieces that sent Deron Williams to the Nets, but Harris was never able to convince anybody on the season and a half where he played in Utah. He never looked healthy and as he was always a player that needed his explosiveness to be effective, Harris never looked good with the Jazz uniform. This new adventure in Atlanta will be important for him, as he is on the last year of his contract and he will certainly be motivated to have a good season.

For the remaining positions on the backcourt, Larry Drew has several options: Kyle Korver and Anthony Morrow are good spot up shooters, DeShawn Stevenson is known for being a good defender and if Larry Drew wants to recover a bit of the “Iso Joe”, he will have Louis Williams for that, as he has shown in the past that he can be effective offensively by being #30 on the league in Isolation plays and #19 in pick and roll – ball handler player in terms of points per possession.

With Horford’s and Pachulia’s injuries last season, Ivan Johnson took well advantage of the opportunity he had to show that he can be a quality option to the team by showing a lot of intensiveness on his game.

 

Final Thoughts

The Hawks sacrificed Joe Johnson in order to have bigger financial flexibility in the future, but the team continues to have conditions to remain competitive this season.

Larry Drew showed last season that he is a good coach by knowing how to adjust the team after Horford’s serious injury. The Hawks have a roster with good depth, especially on the backcourt, while they have in Al Horford and Josh Smith two legitimate All Star players on this league.

During the Joe Johnson era, Atlanta was a candidate of having home court edge on the first round of the playoffs and having as their main goal to win at least one playoff series. For this season, the expectations are naturally less ambitious, but Atlanta should remain a competitive team and they should qualify for the playoffs for the sixth season in a row. 

Follow Andre Gomes on Twitter @GomesCapper

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My name is André Gomes, I’m from Portugal and I am a Professional Handicapper. My sole purpose is to constantly beat the sportsbooks by taking advantage of the evaluation errors they make. It is most... Read more

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