3-on-3: Wizards at Hawks: Visiting Captain Kirk Without A Couple Space Cadets
So you might have noticed that the Wizards-Hornets DC Council Game 42 has yet to be posted. With four games in five nights, amongst hours of unintended website downtime yesterday and into today (with “figuring out” time to boot), and with real life work stuff on the side, things happen. Not to worry, we won’t be skipping it… your next drink will be a double. Thanks for bearing with us as the Wizards move on… to play the 24-19 Hawks in Atlanta. For tonight’s 3-on-3 we have Bret LaGree of the TrueHoop Hawk’s blog Hoopinion, along with TAI’s Markus Allen and Kyle Weidie. Let’s get into it… the second game past the Nick Young/JaVale McGee era… three questions, three answers starts now…
#1) So Josh Smith wasn’t traded. He’s set to make $13.2 million next season, and that’s it for his current contract. What do the Hawks do with the surly Smith?
ALLEN: I don’t see any reason to trade Josh Smith this off-season, he’s arguably the best player on the Hawks team, and has been snubbed from the All-Star game multiple times. The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that Smith wants a fresh start with a new franchise, and is frustrated with Atlanta not doing enough to promote his All-Star appearances, as well as his desire to play with a championship contender. We really can’t look too much into what is “reported”, because the only person who knows whether or not he wants out of Atlanta is Josh Smith, and he has denied accusations of a rift between him and the organization (But so did Melo). The best thing for the Hawks would be to keep him around for another season, and if there is still issues, trade him by next year’s trade deadline. With Dwight Howard also under contract for next season, the Magic could definitely try to make a move to bring Smith to Orlando which would appease all the parties involved. Also, the 2012 Draft will be one of the strongest in years, and if a lottery team offers a draft pick, the Hawks might need to put Smith on a flight.
LaGREE: For the second straight summer, I’ll believe that the most logical thing to try to do is deal Smith in a mini-blockbuster that gains a lottery pick for the Hawks. I can’t see the Hawks going for a full-bore rebuild in 2013 by letting Smith leave as a free agent and amnestying Joe Johnson so they have to gain assets another way. All that being said, the most likely outcome involves the Hawks trying re-sign Smith in 2013, Smith signing somewhere else, and the Hawks acquiring someone older, bigger, and less good as his replacement.
WEIDIE: Trade him, but don’t undervalue him. But yea, when malcontents like Smith get malcontent, the best move is to get them out of town. Don’t worry ,Wizards fans, your team doesn’t need Smith — too risky for the culture (although, no one doubts the Wizards’ ability to market their players as All-Stars, per Smith’s complaint via Markus above). Getting a lottery pick for him isn’t out of the question… OR… why don’t the Knicks just trade Carmelo to the Hawks for Josh Smith and Marvin Williams? (Yea, riiiiiiight.)
#2) Make an eight-man rotation from the rosters of both the Wizards and the Hawks. How far does that team go?
ALLEN: PG John Wall: SG Joe Johnson; SF Marvin Williams; PF Josh Smith; C Nene; Bench: Jeff Teague, Zaza Pachulia, Jordan Crawford — It’s hard to say; with this lineup I could imagine this team being in the same spot the Hawks are in right now, battling for a fourth seed along with Philadelphia, Indiana, and Boston. Wall would thrive with Joe Johnson hitting shots and Josh Smith playing some athletic pick-and-roll action. Marvin Williams is the best option at the 3, but this team still lacks a quality small forward, as we’ve seen the 3-guard lineup of Teague, Hinrich, and Johnson being used by the Hawks, and Singleton/Lewis not producing much for the Wizards. Nene and Pachulia do similar things at the center position (depending on the health of Nene), and Teague and Crawford would thrive coming off the bench for Wall and Johnson. If everyone on this roster played to their potential, they could be a better version of the Orlando Magic and get a 3 seed, with 6 players on this team easily capable of scoring 10+ points a night.
LaGREE: John Wall, Joe Johnson, Marvin Williams, Josh Smith, Nene, Zaza Pachulia, Jeff Teague and Jordan Crawford. Like the Hawks, that team gets to the second round. Unlike the Hawks, that team could plausibly argue that Al Horford’s absence cost them a chance to advance deeper in the playoffs. Most importantly, Jordan Crawford’s presence bonds Hawks and Wizards fans in an epic, internecine argument over his true potential.
WEIDIE: Assuming Al Horford is healthy, give me John Wall, Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Horford and Nene as my starters. Off the bench, I want Kirk Hinrich, Marvin Williams and Trevor Booker. Those top eight players, assuming you get some cheap, championship-chasing veterans, etc., competes, but loses out to the Miami Heat for tops in the Eastern Conference…. with one caveat. Who’s the coach? Nate McMillan probably gets the job done. [Note: I’m second-guessing McMillan as my choice, not sure his offensive style would be appropriate.] Plus, there are enough good guys on this team to keep Smith motivated and happy (i.e., he’ll get to score a lot).
#3) Beating the Hornets was one thing, but what will the newer new traditions Wizards look like against the Hawks, who are back home in Atlanta with a day’s rest after a 2-4 road trip (losses to the Pistons, Heat, Nuggets and Clippers; wins versus the Pacers and Kings)? The Wizards, it should be noted, are playing in their fourth road game in five nights; Vegas is favoring the Hawks by 11 points. In your answer, give a score prediction.
ALLEN: The Hawks lost to Detroit after traveling to Miami and losing a close game by three points. They did play six games in eight days, so they were obviously fatigued. With a day of rest, I expect them to come motivated to grab an “easy win” against a Wizards team still without Nene. Washington played well against the Hornets, but it was the Hornets, and I just can’t see them holding up against Atlanta’s talent. Trevor Booker will be physical, and it will be a good match up against Josh Smith, but Joe Johnson will overwhelm anyone the Wizards will put on him. Washington also often allows opposing bench players to go off (see: Beaubois, Novak, Splitter), and either Vladimir Radmanovic or Marvin Williams could have one of those nights. Wall will drop 20 and 10, but for the Wizards to have a chance, Crawford and Booker must produce points, and that must come from defense first. Still, I have the Hawks winning 101-87.
LaGREE: The Hawks should win. If more than one of Marvin Williams, Ivan Johnson, Tracy McGrady and Vladimir Radmanovic can play tonight, then they should win handily against the depleted, stuck-in-trade-purgatory Wizards. Atlanta: 97-85.
WEIDIE: Back to earth for Washington’s talent level, as Atlanta covers the spread 107-92. The Wizards will still provide tough moments to watch (and Atlanta will show plenty of deep flaws), but these Wiz Kids will still be more refreshing to see, as they are more likely to share the ball against bad and good teams like now. Basically, with two less space cadets, you can only go up.