No Game Is an Island: Perfect Balance

Posted by Rob Mahoney on February 26, 2010 under Previews | 2 Comments to Read

The Atlanta Hawks are one of the most watchable teams in the league not because of one must-watch player (a la LeBron or Wade), but precisely because they don’t have such a player. They’re a quality team on the verge of true contention (and share that standing with the Mavs, in some regard), and they’ve done so with a team-wide embrace of on-court versatility. Mike Bibby may be penciled in as the point guard, but I’m not sure he’s a point guard. Joe Johnson may be penciled in as the shooting guard, but I’m not sure he’s the shooting guard (although the guy certainly does love to shoot). Josh Smith may be penciled in as the power forward, but I’m not entirely unconvinced that Smith isn’t a futuristic warrior from the year 2183 to prove to us how futile the notion of gravity really is. The personnel in Atlanta allows for such a system to thrive, and the best Hawks team of all time is not a product of individual dominance, but of incredible parity:

With just about every competitive squad in the league, you can isolate a player that stands at the heart of everything the team hopes to accomplish. More often than not, that player is simply the team’s most talented (Chris Paul, LeBron James, Brandon Roy), but in some cases, it’s a secondary star who compensates for shear production with massive on-court influence (Chauncey Billups, Brandon Jennings, one of the Boston Celtics).

Or, in slightly less frequent and more bizarre circumstances, a team is left with no focus at all, depending on a balance of power, production, and personality to turn what could be a tornado into a whirling dervish neatly dressed in a tuxedo and a bow tie. The Atlanta Hawks are a team without a singular focus, without an anchor. That type of situation could be a cause of trouble for any number of rosters throughout the league, but somehow, someway, Atlanta makes parity look easy.

You can read my full piece on the Hawks here at HP.

The Dallas Mavericks visit the Atlanta Hawks:
7:00 CST
ESPN (or online at ESPN 360)