State of the Hawks: Williams’ loss hurts

Prior to Lou Williams’ season-ending knee injury, the Hawks likely had enough talent and depth at guard to flourish in the East. What might be the impact of Williams’ absence?

Lou’s injury will obviously impact the offensive output, not just from his numbers but the bench, as a whole. When a player is that creative and productive, he opens up the floor for his teammates, as well. Without Lou, (the Hawks) will not get as many quality looks at the basket. I love the addition of Jannero Pargo.

On Monday, Jannero Pargo had a phenomenal first day with the Hawks, scoring 16 points and nailing four 3-pointers in Atlanta’s win over Minnesota. From your viewpoint, what does Pargo bring to the team, especially with Williams sidelined?

The Pargo pick-up (was) a great move by (Hawks GM) Danny Ferry. Because he was with the team last season, (Pargo) knows Larry Drew’s system, knows the core of this team and is comfortable here in Atlanta. I still can’t believe he was available. He proved that in his first game as a Hawk — (scoring) 14 of his 16 in the second half, most of those in the fourth quarter — that he still has game.

Al Horford’s production has been trending upward in recent weeks. Among the big men in the East, where does Horford stack up?

Brook Lopez of the Nets is probably the best pure big man in the Eastern Conference; but other than him, I’m not sure anyone else is better than Al at center, and Horford (a pure power forward) is playing out of position. The league just doesn’t have the amount of quality centers, compared to the 1970s, 80s and even the 90s.

Al hustles, played excellent defense and has an outstanding mid-range jumper. What else could you ask for?

Do you have any reasoning for the Hawks’ sluggish starts against struggling teams?

It’s the Hawks M.O. — they play up or down to the level of their competition, and it drives me and all of their fans crazy. I wish I had the answer as to why!

What kind of impact have Devin Harris and Jeff Teague had with the club — especially in the second half — when playing together?

Devin Harris brings a presence to the perimeter defense that is lacking when he is out. All of the guards can score, but he is by far the team’s best defender outside. And Teague’s quickness is outstanding. Between the two, other guards have to be extra careful both handling the ball and making passes or a quick turnover and two- or possible three-point play will follow.

Both Devin and Jeff are exceptional offensive players, but it’s their defense, as a duo, which often has a tremendous impact of the Hawks.