Friday, June 28, 2013

Atlanta Hawks 2013 Draft Analysis

         It was a busy night for the Atlanta Hawks and GM Danny Ferry. The team held two first round picks at numbers 17 and 18. There were many scenarios as to if Atlanta wanted to trade up or stay content with the picks they had.
The Hawks selected Germany PG Dennis Schroeder 17th overall
      The Hawks selected Brazil Center Lucas Nogueira with the 16th overall pick from the Dallas Mavericks. From the trade, Dallas acquired Miami Guard Shane Larkin from Atlanta's original #17 pick.  Nogueira played for the Brazilian U-19 national team at the 2011 FIBA Under-19 World Championship. He was ranked fifth in rebounds per game and second in blocks per game.

      With the 17th overall pick, Atlanta choose 19 year old Dennis Schroeder from Germany. He played for the German national under-18 and national under-20 teams. Schroeder played with Germany in the 2012 FIBA Europe under-20 Championship and led his team to fifth place. He averaged six points and two assists. Scroeder also played for SG Braunschweig and averaged 17 PPG in the playoffs.

     Mike Muscalla was drafted 44th overall from the Dallas Mavericks but was traded to the Hawks. He played his college basketball at Bucknell and in 2011 he was the Patriot League player of the year. This past season, he won the Patriot League player of the year award along with its defensive player of the year award.

The Hawks selected Brazil Center Lucas Nogueira with the 16th pick
        Atlanta drafted PG Raul Neto, another Brazilian drafted by the Hawks in the 2013 NBA Draft. He averaged eight points and two assists with his team, Lagun Aro GBC.

      The Hawks drafted Long Beach State Forward James Enis with the 50th overall pick but was traded to the Miami Heat. He averaged 16 points and seven rebounds this past season in his senior  year.

Overall, the Atlanta Hawks had a decent draft but will be looking to build a stronger team via free agency. They have $30 million in cap space and will look to bring a superstar to Atlanta.- Yuriy Andriyashchuk

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Hawks Hire Mike Budenholzer As New Head Coach

       The Atlanta Hawks have decided to go in a new direction. They have hired San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Mike Budenholzer to coach the Hawks. Budenholzer was an assistant with San Antonio since 1996 and has won four NBA Finals with the Spurs.

Budenholzer coaching Tony Parker in San Antonio
      Larry Drew had a 230-128 career record with the Hawks. He was hired to replace Mike Woodson in 2010. Drew led Atlanta to the second round once but also has two first round exits. This season he did a great job of coaching a team that traded allstar Joe Johnson last summer and played without sixth man Lou Williams due to injury. Atlanta also played without Zaza Pachulia in the playoffs.

      Mike Budenholzer was mentored by Spurs head coach Gregg Papovich. He won all four of his championships with San Antonio. Budenholzer has been privileged to be able to coach great players such as David Robinson, Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobli. San Antonio won the Finals in 1999, 2003, 2005, and 2007.

      Hawks' GM Danny Ferry was the Vice President of Basketball operations with the Spurs from 2010-2012 so he knows Budenholzer very well. They will look to take the Spurs' winning tradition and transition that into the Hawks' franchise.

      It will be a busy offseason for Budenholzer and Ferry. The Hawks have two first round picks in next month's draft. They hold picks 17 and 18. They also have $30 million in cap space. They will look to sign a superstar such as Chris Paul or Dwight Howard to take Atlanta in the right direction in order to build a championship caliber team.

   The Hawks hired a coach with experience from a winning team and will look to take what he learned from San Antonio and use that to bring success to the organization.-Yuriy A.

Atlanta Hawks Season Review

The Hawks traded six-time all-star Joe Johnson to the Brooklyn Nets in the summer and critics believed that Atlanta didn’t have a star or a real leader in the locker room. The team also made major offseason moves in the front office; signing GM Danny Ferry as GM and president of basketball operations.
Hawks' head coach Larry Drew
Hawks' head coach Larry Drew
Ferry got to work quickly, acquiring Devin Harris from the Utah Jazz and signed Sixers’ guard Lou Williams. They had great shooting coming off the bench from DeShawn Stevenson, Anthony Tolliver and Kyle Korver.                                                                         

The Hawks had an up and down second half of the season. Atlanta couldn’t find their rhythm after the all-star break and lost chemistry. Nonetheless, with Lou Williams out, the Hawks stepped up and received great bench play from Ivan Johnson, Kyle Korver, Johan Petro and rookie John Jenkins.The Hawks started the New Year at 20-11. Sixth man Lou Williams suffered a serious leg injury in a game against the Nets in late January and many believed that Atlanta’s season was over. The Hawks dealt with this kind of situation before. Last January all-star Al Horford tore his pectoral muscle and was out for the season. Atlanta still finished the year as the fifth seed with home court advantage.
Forward Al Horford played well when the New Year started. He had many games of streaks with double-doubles. His leadership played a tremendous role in the Hawks keeping pace in playoff position. He was in the discussion of making the all-star team but was snubbed. He is a two-time all-star.
When the playoffs came, the Hawks finished as the sixth seed with a record of 44-38. They played against the third-seeded Indiana Pacers. The Pacers won the first two games of the series at home in blowout fashion. The Hawks also defended their home court by winning two games at home. Indiana went on to win the next two games and won the series 4-2. The Pacers dominated the paint with scoring from big men David West, Tyler Hansbrough and Roy Hibbert. They did this without all-star Danny Granger.
Hawks' forward Josh Smith.
Hawks’ forward Josh Smith.
The Hawks have a busy offseason ahead. Head coach Larry Drew is a free agent and so is Josh Smith. Smith has been in trade discussions every year at the trade deadline but the organization continues to have faith in him. Atlanta has $90 million in cap room. They will be looking to sign a superstar such as Chris Paul or Dwight Howard. Many fans in Atlanta want Josh Smith and Dwight Howard to play together. They both grew up in Atlanta as childhood friends and played on the same AAU team.
Atlanta also has two first round draft picks. One of them is from the Houston Rockets. They hold the 17th and 18th picks. The Hawks will be looking to draft a center to help Al Horford move to his true forward postion. Horford would still be able to receive this help should the Hawks acquire Dwight Howard.
The Hawks suffered a first round exit for the second straight year and are looking for answers. It should be an interesting offseason for Atlanta as a lot of money will be spent and their search for a superstar to take them to the next level starts now. GM Danny Ferry will look to make aggressive moves and bring success to the city of Atlanta.- Yuriy A.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Atlanta Hawks vs Indiana Pacers Series- 1st Round Of The NBA Playoffs

The NBA playoffs have started and the three-seeded Indiana Pacers are facing the six-seeded Atlanta Hawks. This series is going to bring physical match ups such as Roy Hibbert and Al Horford guarding each other. This series will also display great shooters such as Paul George and Devin Harris.

Jeff Teague drives to the basket
Hawks' head coach Larry Drew surprised critics by exceeding expectations this season after the team traded away all star Joe Johnson last summer. Atlanta struggled in the second half of the season but it earned them an average sixth seed. The team held their heads up and worked hard even when they lost Lou Williams and Zaza Pachulia to injuries for the rest of the season.

The Pacers have had a great season. Being led by all star Paul George, they dominated the competition. They have had many key wins such as three wins against the Miami Heat. They win games by dominating the paint with their big men such as Roy Hibbert and Tyler Hansbrough.

Game 1 of the first round series went to Indiana. They got to the free throw line at will and played excellent basketball inside the paint. There were some questionable calls but the Pacers were on their A-Game and it led to a 107- 90 win. Paul George recorded a triple double with 23 points, 11 rebounds, & 12 assists.

Atlanta head coach Larry Drew put his bench in the game near the end of the third quarter and that received some criticism. Many believed that he rested his starters too long and that's why the Hawks didn't play well in the fourth quarter. Yes, the bench did help trim the lead down to nine but they eventually got tired. Late game situations belong to Jeff Teague, Al Horford and Josh Smith.
Josh Smith defending Indiana's Paul George

A concern that Larry Drew should focus on is Josh Smith's shot selection. He shouldn't be settling for jump shots all game long when he can just drive to the basket and score at will. He makes significant progress when he plays his game in the paint area. He misses many jump shots and three point shots and that always ends up being detrimental to the team. Smith must develop a better basketball IQ when it comes to those situations if Atlanta wants to make this a long series.

The series continues in Indiana for game 2 between the Hawks and Pacers. We will see what adjustments are made for both teams and how the results will play out. For the Hawks to win, they have to aggressively attack the basket and make their free throws. If the starters play well for 48 minutes, the Hawks will will head in the right direction to win a series against a very tough Indiana Pacers team.- Yuriy A.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Josh Smith And His Future With The Hawks

Every year at the trade deadline, there is always speculation about Josh Smith getting traded from Atlanta. At the end of the day, he’s still a Hawk.
An Atlanta native, he has playing for his home team since 2004. He was the 17th pick in the draft out of Oak Hill Academy. This season he is averaging 17PPG and 8 RPG. He was snubbed out of the all star game once again despite playing great basketball.
Nobody knows for sure if he will resign with Atlanta this summer. He is looking for a max contract but no team is willing to pay him that kind of money. The Hawks have saved a lot of cap room by trading Joe Johnson to Brooklyn and are looking to add top free agents next to Smith. Atlanta wants to add Chris Paul or Josh Smith’s childhood friend, Dwight Howard.
As of now, Smith seems content in Atlanta and believes the team can win. GM Danny Ferry believes that he can persuade many free agents to come to the Hawks and build a championship calibur team along Josh Smith, Jeff Teague, and all star Al Horford. Smith looks to finish the season strong and have success with the Hawks. We will see how 2013 plays out for the young Hawk.- Yuriy A.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Look At The Second Half Of The Season For The Atlanta Hawks

The Atlanta Hawks are about to start the second half of the regular season and there are many things to look forward to. Among them are the trade deadline and the push for home court advantage in the playoffs.

Rumors are swirling about Atlanta trading hometown favorite Josh Smith. Smith was snubbed out of the NBA All star Game even though he averaged 17 points and 8 rebounds per game. He has many off-nights but he will have to bring the energy and intensity every game if he wants to make a run with the Hawks in the playoffs and remain in Atlanta. The trade deadline is February 21st and we will see if the Hawks will accept any teams' offers for Smith or if they will stay content and decide to negotiate with him on a new contract before free agency this summer.
Hawks' Forward Josh Smith

The Hawks are currently the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference. They started the New Year at 20-10 and are now 29-22 at the all star break. Atlanta lost shooting guard Lou Williams for the rest of the season due to a knee injury suffered against the Brooklyn Nets in January. The Hawks won two games in a row with wins against Dallas and Orlando before the all star break with clutch shooting from players such as Kyle Korver, Anthony Tolliver, and DeShawn Stevenson. Atlanta will look to seek more contributions from these role players. Point guard Devin Harris has been in a slump lately but will look to regain his shooting stroke in the second half of the season.

The Eastern Conference is in such a tight race heading into the playoffs. If teams such as the Nets or Pacers lose in one night, it helps teams like the Hawks, Bulls or Celtics make a quick leap in the standings. Atlanta has to play smart basketball and beat some of these contenders.

Aside from Josh Smith, point guard Jeff Teague has to take a high leadership role and have control over this team. He has to make smart decisions and not make costly turnovers. The Hawks drafted Teague in 2009 to be the point guard that they've been desperately looking for to build around.
Hawks' Center Al Horford

Two-time all star Al Horford has to control the paint. Offensive rebounding has been a problem for Atlanta in many games and if Horford crashes the boards every single game, the Hawks can be dangerous. This also applies to big men Zaza Pachulia and Ivan Johnson who give Atlanta good contributions with their scoring and rebounds off the bench.

The Hawks hold their own fate. The Eastern Conference is competitive with many teams who can do damage in the playoffs such as the defending champion Miami Heat and teams under the radar such as the Brooklyn Nets and Indiana Pacers. Atlanta has to stay healthy and head coach Larry Drew has to instill a winning mentality to the team. We will see how the second half turns out for these rising Atlanta Hawks.-Yuriy A.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Atlanta Falcons Season Review

It was a wild year for the Atlanta Falcons. They had a 13-3 regular season record and an amazing run but ended in a loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game. From all of their fourth quarter comeback wins to their playoff win against Seattle, it was an exciting season.

Falcons' QB Matt Ryan
The Falcons had a lot of pressure on them heading into training camp. The critics constantly bashed them by saying that they couldn't win a playoff game. This is mainly due to the Falcons' high quality performance in the regular season but not in the playoffs. Atlanta wanted to get their first playoff win since 2004 and achieve higher aspirations.

The Falcons surprised everybody and started the season 8-0. Their first loss came against the rival New Orleans Saints in the Super Dome. Atlanta had many opportunities to get into the end zone in the second half but just couldn't capitalize. The Falcons then went 2-2 in their last four regular season games. Another key victory was on December 16th against the defending Super Bowl Champion New York Giants. Atlanta won in a blowout, 34-0.

QB Matt Ryan had an outstanding season. He threw for 4,719 yards and 32 touchdown passes. RB Michael Turner scored 10 touchdowns despite not reaching the 1,000 yard mark. The WR tandem of Julio Jones and Roddy White had a phenomenal year. Jones had 79 catches for 1,198 yards with 10 touchdown catches and made his first Pro Bowl. White had 92 catches for 1,351 yards and seven touchdown catches.

Matt Ryan was always clutch in the fourth quarter. He has 16 career fourth quarter comebacks and 23 game winning drives. No matter how much time was left on the clock, he got his team down the field quickly and always got into the end zone or had help from kicker Matt Bryant to kick the game winning field goal.
WRs Julio Jones and Roddy White
LB Stephen Nicolas was the leading tackler with 97 and Thomad DeCoud had a team high six interceptions. The defense had a great regular season despite losing Brent Grimes for most of the season.

The Falcons will also try to convince hall of fame TE Tony Gonzalez not to retire. Gonzalez had 93 catches for 930 yards and eight touchdowns this season. He also made his 13th Pro Bowl appearance. Gonzalez holds the records for TD receptions (107) and total receiving yards (14,268) by a tight end.

It will be an interesting offseason for Atlanta. They can put the right pieces together from the draft and free agency to get over the playoff hump and make the Super Bowl. The Falcons will have to get through contenders such as San Francisco and Green Bay if they want to hoist a Lombardi Trophy.

It was a fun season and I enjoyed covering the Atlanta Falcons. I will also cover their free agency and what they do on draft night. So until then, Rise Up Atlanta!!!-Yuriy A.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Lou Williams Out For The Rest Of The Season With Torn ACL

The Atlanta Hawks face a devastating blow to their team. Starting SG Lou Williams suffered a torn ACL in the Hawks' game on January 18th in Brooklyn against the Nets and will be done for the rest of the season. Atlanta faced a similar situation last January when center Al Horford tore his left pectoral muscle which required surgery.

Hawks' SG Lou Williams tore his ACL in a loss at Brooklyn
Lou Williams has been a huge contributor for the Hawks this season as he was acquired from Philadelphia in free agency last summer. Williams was Atlanta's sixth man but made the transition into the starting lineup. The Hawks have used many different starting lineups this season but saw that Lou Williams brings the energy to the team and can have a huge game on any given night. Williams has been a huge factor in many of Atlanta's fourth quarter comebacks.

Although this may be a huge loss for Atlanta, they may be able to handle this situation well. As I pointed out, they lost Horford for the second half of the season in 2012 but they still performed well and skyrocketed with huge momentum heading into the playoffs. Horford returned to play two games for Atlanta but lost in the first round to the Boston Celtics.

Losing Williams for the rest of the season leaves a huge hole to fill in the starting lineup but the Hawks have key players and many guards who can fill Williams' role such as Devin Harris, Kyle Korver and rookie John Jenkins. Williams may be gone but the Hawks still have key players in their starting lineup such as Josh Smith, Al Horford and Jeff Teague.

With Lou Williams being gone, many Hawks fans may start to panic. With the talent on this team, Atlanta can still be a threat in the Eastern conference. With great sharpshooters like Kyle Korver and John Jenkins and players who dominate the paint such as Josh Smith and Al Horford, the Hawks can beat anybody on any given night. Keep your heads up, Atlanta. Until next time, GO HAWKS!!!-Yuriy A.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Georgia Defeats Nebraska in Capital One Bowl, 45-31

UGA QB Aaron Murray
The Georgia Bulldogs came out strong after a heartbreaking loss to Alabama in the SEC championship game last month.  UGA QB Aaron Murray had a phenomenal game in what may be his last game at the University of Georgia.

Aaron Murray went 18/33 for 427 yards, five touchdowns, and two interceptions. WR Chris Conley had two catches for 136 yards and two touchdowns. Senior WR Tavarres King had three catches for 104 yards and one touchdown. RB Todd Gurley had 23 carries for 125 yards and one touchdown. The offense had 589 yards in total offense.

Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez went 16/27 for 204 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. RB Rex Burkhead had 24 carries for 140 yards and one touchdown. He also had four catches for 39 yards and one touchdown. The Bulldogs completely shut down Nebraska's wide receivers as none of them caught at least 50 yards.

Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez
Georgia fought hard and was motivated after they felt that they deserved a better bowl game. They were five yards short away from beating Alabama in the SEC championship game and were heart broken after not being able to go to the national championship. They finished 12-2 and head coach Mark Richt will have many spots to fill after losing key players to the NFL. Among them are All-American linebacker Jarvis Jones, Alec Ogletree, and WR Tavarres King.

After the South Carolina game in mid-October, everybody wrote Georgia off. The Bulldogs proved the critics wrong and won the rest of their games and one of them included a win over the #2 ranked Florida Gators. Some of the challenges of next season will be facing Clemson in the opening game, LSU, and South Carolina. This team proved that they're championship ready and will still be a contender. Everybody in Athens will be praying that Aaron Murray stays at UGA for one more year.

I appreciate the support from all of you on viewing my blogs and watching me cover the Georgia Bulldogs throughout this year. Hopefully more improvements will be made with the team and they will have bigger championship opportunities next year. So until next time, GO DAWGS-Yuriy A.