Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Extending The Master Plan (Like It or Not)

Joe Johnson extension? No surprise at all.

Bret @ Hoopinion and Drew @ Peachtree Hoops have excellent points about de-emphasizing the role of Joe Johnson on the team moving forward. But for the Hawks to do so would fly in the face of every action the Hawks have taken in the last year.

We have long agreed with our Hawks writing brethren that the team would be better served with less one-on-one, isolationist offensive approach, as it doesn't scale to success against good defenses. The Hawks, however, do not see things the same way, as evidenced by their actions ever since they got cleaned out of the second round by Cleve-land.

Instead of understanding their offensive inefficiencies and working to balance the team's approach on that end of the floor, the team doubled down on the strategy by trading for Jamal Crawford and drafting Jeff Teague. They also re-signed Mike Bibby to lock down The Backcourt for at least one more season.

Even during the season, the team made zero effort towards reversing the flow of the ball to go from the inside-out. They showed almost no interest in improving Al Horford's abilities around the basket during games--some games giving him no plays at all from the post--as if he were a minimum free agent signing of some sort up front. Josh Smith worked hard in the previous offseason to develop his post game, but is encouraged by his teammates, and the team's offensive style to rain jump shots, even though there is a Mt. Everest-esque mountain of statistics that scream not to do so.

It would be great if the team decided that, in fact, a Joe Johnson heavy, dribble-dribble-shoot approach was better used as a change up, rather than the teams' fastball, but to continue to hope that things will change looks to be a dead end, sadly.

So, in those terms, it makes perfect sense that the team is looking to lock Joe down before the influx of cap space and capital invades the conversation in the summer of 2010. Joe is the linchpin of their entire approach offensively--even with his Earl Campbell like workload since becoming a Hawk. Like it or not, this is the path the Hawks have more than made clear they are traveling down--and they are counting on Joe Johnson to lead the way.

As for Joe, Sekou Smith (who broke the news linked in the first sentence on his fantastic blog) and others have done an excellent job over the past year of highlighting Joe's more than willing attitude to having things continue as is--he likes his role as the main man on the floor--so it will be no surprise to see he and the team comes to terms on an extension, since there are few (if any other than the Hawks) teams that will afford such admiration, attention, and production for Joe next season.

The HHB is chanting and meditating for some zen calmness to wash over us, despite the team's obvious warm embrace of an offensive philosophy that is in polar opposite to their own. Suggestions and incense can be fired off in the Comments Area.

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