I want to apologize for the lack of updates during that latter portion of last week and over the weekend. I am proud to announce a new addition to the Soaring Down South Family. My wife gave birth to a 7 lbs, 10 oz baby boy on August 6th, so as you can imagine, that has consumed my time. In fact, he has his days and nights a little mixed up right now, which is a challenge. However, I am enjoying this. Hopefully as he gets acclimated to his surroundings and gets his nights and days straight, I will be able to update this blog like it needs to be.
With that said, let’s talk some about what has happened with the Hawks. I talked about the blessing in disguise it is that Shaq is going to Boston and not coming to Atlanta in my most recent blog. What I didn’t talk about in that post were the three big men the Hawks are apparently looking at to fill a third/fourth center role. Apparently, the Hawks are looking at Francisco Elson, Josh Boone, and Brian Skinner to be the back up of the back up’s back up at the center position. Of these three players, Josh Boone has by far the most value. I’m a little surprised that he’s still available in free agency. Josh isn’t a great player, but he does bring a rebounding aspect to the game. He posted very solid rebounding numbers on both the offensive and defensive end last season. Josh also brings some value as a shot blocker. He could be a solid low post defender that can rebound for the Hawks. Josh can also play both the center and power forward positions, and I happen to think he would be quite valuable as a back up power forward. I’m not that high on Josh Powell at this point.
Brian Skinner is a veteran of the league and has been around the block. At one point in his career, he brought some value as a rebounder. Over the past two years though, his rebounding has declined. Even defensively, he has declined as a shot blocker. With that said, he’s still probably a better alternative than Francisco Elson at this point. Elson is one of those players that has seemingly stuck around the league because of his size, as he has brought little else to the table.
There is a yahoo sports report that the Hawks will have a couple of training camp invites that may get a look to be the back up of the back up’s back up at the center position. I haven’t seen it anywhere else, but yahoo is reporting that Courtney Sims and Garrett Siler will be in the Hawks training camp. Two years ago, Courtney Sims averaged almost 23 points per game and 11 rebounds per game in the NBDL. He has a career average of 18.5 PPG and 8.8 RPG in the NBDL. I actually like Courtney Sims potential. He is a long, athletic player who is versatile on the court. He’s one of those players that hasn’t been able to push through on the chances he has received so far. He’s been called up from the D League and didn’t get the playing time to showcase his ability. There is some question whether his representation has handled him well or not. Bottom line is, this is a big man who was the MVP of the D League a couple of years ago and played well in Hawks camp last year. IMO, him not making the team was a result of the Hawks insistence on not utilizing the D League, plus studs like Jason Collins had guranteed contracts that the team didn’t want to eat.
Garret Siler is a player many Hawks fans really like. He brings the one thing Hawks fans desperately want on the team. Size. The problem is, he doesn’t bring much of anything else. Between he and Courtney Sims, I’m taking Courtney Sims and his length/versatility. I feel Siler needs to spend some time in the D League before he makes an NBA team, and with his lack of mobility, it is questionable whether that will happen. With his size though, someone may end up giving him a shot. NBA scouts are notorious for putting entirely too much value on size and not enough on skill, IMO, at the center position.
The Hawks may actually be looking to bring Pape Sy over this year. After initially reporting that they weren’t going to bring him over, apparently Sy impressed them enough in summer league action to make them consider buying out his contract in France. Pape is a strong defender on the perimeter, which is something this team desperately needs. He’s a versatile player, but I just don’t think he’s quite ready. I wish the Hawks would have paid more attention to the perimeter defense early on in free agency, so if all else fails, I would support signing Pape because he could give them some minutes as a perimeter defender. I just don’t think he would bring anything else at this point.
Finally, message boards were abuzz this week with a report that Al Horford is going to play more power forward this year. Of course, this sparked talk that the Hawks were going to move him to power forward and play Josh Smith at small forward. As big of a Josh Smith fan as I am, I see nothing positive that would come out of making him a small forward at this point. His strength is his defense in the post, and his biggest weakness is his perimeter shot. I’m not going to say he can’t defend on the perimeter, but he’s going to have to do so a far sight better than he did last year. What I think the Hawks are actually going to do here is employ some bigger line ups more often than they did last year, and this has nothing to do with whether Al will start at center or not. I think the Hawks will end up playing Zaza and Al more together on the floor than in the previous two years. This makes me think that Larry has paid attention to the stats that show the Hawks are plus 5 when those two are on the floor together. It also likely means more minutes for Jason Collins, or maybe Courtney Sims if the Hawks wisen up and take the young buck over the aging vet. It makes very little sense to me to weaken two positions, center and small forward, just to move Al to power forward.