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Al Horford

The Budenholzer Era begins: Atlanta Hawks Season Preview

Starting Five: PG Jeff Teague, SG Lou Williams, SF Kyle Korver, PF Paul Millsap, C Al Horford
Key bench players: SG John Jenkins, PF Elton Brand, C Gustavo Ayon, PG Dennis Schroeder
Notable offseason additions: Millsap, Brand, Schroeder (17th overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft)
Notable offseason subtractions: PF Josh Smith, PG Devin Harris, C Zaza Pachulia, PF Ivan Johnson
FACT OR FICTION: The Atlanta Hawks will rue the day that they allowed Josh Smith to leave via free agency. 
FICTION. The Atlanta Hawks accomplished a rare feat: letting an All-Star caliber player walk and re-setting their franchise trajectory, but at the same time not completely rebuilding from scratch.
With Josh Smith, the Hawks were a capped out team that would win somewhere between 43 and 53 games every season. The proof is in history: that’s what they’ve done for the past five seasons. At this point, it’s obvious what type of player Smoove is going to be: a freak athlete defender with a fantastic ability to finish at the rack and a slow, broken jump shot that’s unlikely to ever improve. Like Lamar Odom years ago, Smith is much better watched when you focus on what he is doing rather than what his immense talents suggests he should be doing. If he’s your second or third-best player, then your team should be in great shape. There’s no way he should be controlling a team’s offense or even counted on to pour in 20 points a night, but with his defensive prowess, there is a chance that he’ll dictate the pace of the game.… Read more...

Why the Atlanta Hawks Deserve Your Hate

There are four types of teams in the NBA. Some of them fall into categories relative to your particular franchise allegiance, and some stay the same no matter what the colors you cheer for.

1) The franchises you love

A pretty easy one; the city you live in, the region your family is from, the college you went to or the place your spouse grew up. The team you live and breathe and die with, the one that gives you fits late at night and effects you deep into the summer.

2) The franchises you hate because of the franchises you love

Any team that would threaten the superiority of the team you love. Perhaps it’s the crew that prevents your beloved franchise from reaching superiority. You hate them viscerally, like your DNA was programmed with the genomes that set your senses ablaze when those colors came across your corneas. You hate because you love.

3) The franchises you respectfully hate

And then there is the point where the rivalry is no longer a simple issue of them being better than you, or you trying to be better than them. It’s a rivalry steeped in deep tradition that will permeate through the histories of both regions for as long as organized ball is played. Hundreds of games have been contested, and with it, championships and accolades for both of those teams have followed. But through it all, you come to hatefully respect them on the opposite side of the field. They know the thrilling rush of victory, and the desolate emptiness of defeat. In all of your hostility and antagonism, there’s a unity of spirit that can’t be denied. You hate them, with respect, because in the end, you’re all a part of a shared tradition.

4) And then there’s the franchises you just hate…because they’re awful

There comes a point in your love of the game transcends the simple loyalty you have towards a certain team. You begin to love the sanctity of the sport that it inhabits. You start to see players as not just opponents, but also through the prism of how they represent the principles of the game you love so much. Oddly enough, the more you become invested in your team, it seems the more objective you become about the sport it’s in.

As such, the hate flows from you like a barbed Tupac lyric. Teams, players and management that you would otherwise find benign, as they have no daily, weekly or even monthly impact on your sports-watching life, begin to anger you than you have any logical cause to be. They consistently make the wrong moves, misevaluate players, hire the wrong coaching staffs and say the most offensive statements possible in the media. You hate them because they violate the sanctity of the sport you take so seriously. You hate them because they are terrible. Simple enough.

This is why I hate the Atlanta Hawks. And you should do.

The Atlanta Hawks, as currently constituted, have never won an NBA title. Their predecessors, the St. Louis Hawks, were one-time champions and the only team to defeat the Boston Celtics in the Finals until the 1980’s Lakers. Since their move to Atlanta in the 1970’s, they have never won more than one round of the playoffs. Needless to say, the Hawks’ time in Hotlanta has been tepid, at best.

The current core of Hawks have been together for over 5 seasons now, and have made the playoffs the past 4 years. Though there have been a lot of revolving pieces around them, guard Joe Johnson, forwards Marvin Williams, Josh Smith and center Al Horford have been at the middle of one of the most successful eras in Hawks basketball. Having missed the playoffs for a franchise-worst 8 seasons in a