The Mike Woodson era came to an end yesterday as the Hawks informed him in a morning meeting that they would not be extending him a contract offer. Woodson ends his Hawks tenure with a 206-286 coaching record. He oversaw a franchise that was at rock bottom when he took it over and it grew into a 53 win team. Mike Woodson clearly leaves the franchise in a lot better shape than he found it.
Clearly though given the Hawks playoff performances it was indeed time for a change. The Hawks face many questions during this off season and this was clearly the first one. While they move into the uncertainty of a coaching search and then meshing that new staff with the team. Even given the uncertainties the Hawks needed badly a new fresh perspective. I don’t know who the team will hire but I would expect it to be one of the more desirable destinations for coaches this time around. Al Horford, Josh Smith, Jamal Crawford offer up some intriguing pieces that have been together and have been successful. You may or may not be able to add Joe Johnson to that list as well.
Going forward the Hawks will need to look for a fresh mind to overhaul their offensive and defensive schemes which at times were clearly lacking. Those schemes need to be able to translate into the postseason as well.
But Hawks management had doubts that Woodson’s approach would lead to further improvement, according to two people with knowledge of the decision. Among their concerns was that Woodson would have an increasingly difficult time getting through to his players if he returned.
It would be unduly charitable to view Woodson as a victim of his own success. This team, in perhaps its last week together, revealed the consistent weaknesses of the Woodson era: an overreliance on jump shots created off the dribble and in isolation, lots of talk about defense but little in the way of results, and a lack of depth. The first two problems are directly related. Though Woodson retains, from his association with Larry Brown in Detroit, a defensive reputation in some circles, the Hawks never finished better than 12th in the league in defensive efficiency largely because Woodson was most comfortable turning the offense over to veteran point guards.
But there is one other known fact. Mike Woodson never tried to alter the game. He provided no advantage when he was the underdog. He never out coached his opponent. I can only think of a handful of times when Woody actually made a move that costs the Hawks a game. (One of the few examples was the Jason Collins sub so Al Horford could play some against Gortat). No, Woody rarely made coaching blunders because he made no coaching moves. It was the same thing every game. The same plays and the same sub patterns, the same post game quotes and the same defense, the same first two offensive plays to start the game and the same non reaction to bad fourth quarter shots down the stretch.
It was the same. Always and forever. All the way down to that patented Mike Woodson stare, and what that same did was provide superior athleticism and a familiarity with a system to win more games season after seasons as skill caught up talent, but it never came close to maximizing anything. You just cannot get the most out of a team when you play not to mess things up.
The wins came, but what never came was an identity
So, Mike Woodson was relieved of his duties as head coach of the Atlanta Hawks. There’s no reason to throw any more dirt on his grave because we’ve always been clear about separating the person from the job. The job wasn’t being done to at a championship level, so we needed someone who can.
You find out about teams in the postseason, not in the Tuesday night game against the Wizards. The Hawks really weren’t any better this season than the one before when they won 47. In some ways, they may have been worse. They were stretched to seven games by a worse first-round opponent (Milwaukee) than in 2009 (Miami). They had the same problems with mental and physical toughness. Their half-court offense still struggled, particularly in tight games and in the fourth quarter. Defensive effort was inconsistent.
I beg to differ. If the management had given Mike the key players that he needed, they would have pushed passed Orlando and obviously everybody sitting on the damned bench can’t produce so get rid of the bench!! The unlitmate key to having a playoff contingent team is you need all five starters to produce and if they can’t produce, then somebody off the bench got to come in and produce!! The offense worked these past 6 years, WHAT HAPPENED NOW
Never say that I don’t give both sides of a disagreement their due. No matter how ridiculous the above statement really is.