Birds of Prayer: Why It Might Be Possible The Hawks Actually Did Something Right

Alex Curtis-Slep is the author of NBATipoff and an avid drinker of cold, cold water. This is his first post here at the Paroxysm. Today he discusses the little-discussed Crawford trade for the Hawks and why they may have managed not to screw up this time. Enjoy. -Matt

The Hawks recently pulled off a deal that sent Jamal Crawford from Oakland to Atlanta. In reading some people’s quick thoughts about the trade, mostly on Twitter, I have to say I disagree with any criticism of this deal.
HOW can you say trading bench guys who don’t contribute, for a guy who has tremendous scoring ability, is bad?
Put the fact that the Hawks’ offense is based on stagnant one-on-one isolation plays aside for a second.  As a pure basketball move, the Hawks added a much more talented player to bring into next season in hopes of  moving closer to competing for a title. Look at how much Acie Law and Claxton have accomplished recently. One telling stat: Acie Law averaged about five minutes a game in the playoffs. That spells a guy who either doesn’t fit in Atlanta, or who is just not a contributing NBA player. Claxton doesn’t need stats. Since he didn'[t meet the media, as Law did, that suggests he’s probably not a big part of Golden State’s plans. He’s a guy who has been struggling with knee injuries and on a young, rebuilding team, is already old at 31. Talk about two guys filled with questions–maybe they do fit Golden State perfectly after all.
The Hawks took advantage of a bargain. Don Nelson demanded that he be put up for clearance and the Hawks knew how to shop at Walmart. The Hawks want to win now, and rather than waiting to see if Mike Bibby would re-sign or not, they got a very nice insurance policy.
Crawford may be a nice fill-in, but there are still issues when you look at how they run their offense. It is not very well thought out. Basically what they do is isolate or run pick and rolls (think of a more poorly executed Magic offense). Joe Johnson does tons of dribbling, throws up some bad shot, or finds the guts to drive and score maybe half the time. I could go on all day about their offense. Overall, it is a terrible half court offense that has little to no movement. This makes for very hard-to-watch playoff basketball at times. Players are the ones that dictate how a team runs their offense, but I feel like Mike Woodson needs to take some heat for this.
Whether Woodson is going to coach the Hawks closer to title contention, that’s for another article. Since Woodson does look like he will stick around as coach, let’s face it: if the Hawks play a similar style of offense, it will still look horrible at times. Crawford could make it look even worse. He’s put up 50 points in games because he gets lots of shots up. Nevertheless, I still have faith in Crawford. I believe he can change (yes he can!).
Crawford has never really gotten a chance to play on a great team. He has played on young Bulls’ teams, and overall horrible Knicks’ and Warriors’ teams. This is his first chance to play with a team that was in the second round of the playoffs last year. That’s going to increase his focus. He’s going to have a chance to put himself in the national spotlight. We are going to see Crawford’s best season yet.
Listening to a recent Jamal Crawford interview, he said he thought passing was his biggest strength. Now while I will disagree with that (his strength is putting the ball in the basket), it brought to mind an intangible strength he will bring: leadership. Since Joe Johnson usually leads by play on the court, rather than also verbally motivating his teammates, Crawford seems like the perfect person to be that verbal guy. Think of what Derek Fisher has done for the Lakers. Jamal may not go as deep into it as Fisher, but I’m sure he will help the bunch gel better.
Hawks’ fans know this move improved their squad. Adding Crawford is going to give them more firepower, give them a better verbal leader and rid their team of useless bench warmers. With Crawford added to the mix, the Hawks are moving closer and closer to being a big time East contender. If Mike Woodson comes up with a better functioning offensive system, the Hawks could be lethal next year. Think about your Eastern conference sleeper. Pencil in the Hawks.

Matt Moore

Matt Moore is a Senior NBA Blogger for CBSSports.com's Eye on Basketball blog, weekend editor of Pro Basketball Talk on NBCSports.com, and co-editor of Voice on the Floor. He lives in Kansas City due to an unbelievably complex set of circumstances and enjoys mid-90's pop rock, long walks on the beach and the novels of Tim Sandlin.