--To a man, the Hawks insist this is the best training camp they've had under Mike Woodson. The only problem is that Josh Smith is the only player on the roster to have participated in all five. And while he agrees that the competition and tenor of camp is as good as it's been since he was drafted, he's hesitant to knock any of his former teammates.But he is willing to characterize this group of players as the best "fit" he's seen during his time with the Hawks.
"Everything works with this group," he said. "From the starters to the bench to the way we're trying to play to the atmosphere and attitude during camp. It all makes sense. There is still a lot of work to be done, obviously, and just because it looks good on paper and during the first few days of camp doesn't mean everything works out in our favor in the end. Nobody can predict how things will end up.
"I just know that it feels right from the start, and I figure that's half the battle. The rest is up to us, and I mean the entire organization. We have to finish the deal."
--Whatever it is that G Flip Murray doesn't do well on the basketball court, Joe Johnson has yet to see it. Most every move Murray has made during training camp has been the right one, Johnson said. And Murray's ability to score in bunches and lead the Hawks' second unit has been a revelation for a player that's bounced around the league throughout his six-year career.
"I think it's him just getting comfortable with us," Hawks captain Joe Johnson said. "He was just taking whatever the defense gave him and exploited it at every turn. That's what veterans do."
After a tough shooting night in the Hawks' preseason opener in Orlando, Murray has been a consistent force off the bench, a role Woodson expects him to maintain throughout this season.
Adapting to a new environment has come pretty easy as well. Playing on five different teams in his first six NBA seasons has a way of making the transition a bit easier the next time.
"I've been on different teams throughout the league so I've had no choice but to adapt," Murray said. "One thing I can do is come out here and play my game, but at the same time I can learn how other people play on my team. Once I get accustomed to what they can do it's pretty easy for me because I can adjust my game to fit in. It's not hard at all."
That kind of attitude is why Murray's transition has been so seamless, on and off the floor.
"He became one of my favorites instantly," Josh Smith said. "He's a real person. He speaks his mind and jokes with people at the same time. And I can respect that. He'll police you and then invite you dinner two seconds later. That, to me, is the ultimate pro."
MAIN REASON THE HAWKS CAN WIN: They know what it looks like now, winning. They know what it smells like after making the playoffs last year. They know what it feels like after shutting out the NBA champs on their home floor in that first round playoff series against Boston. The Hawks took meticulous notes during that series, the good and bad stuff, and made sure to bring those notes to training camp this year.
MAIN REASON THE HAWKS CAN LOSE: The roster is finally balanced and the depth is finally up to par. The only thing that can wrong now is injuries or inadequate coaching. Those are the only two things that can derail what has become one of the most promising young teams in the Eastern Conference from their path to a second straight postseason berth.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "When I look around (the locker room) and see what we've got, I think we're in pretty good shape. I feel like there's no question that guys did some major work in the summer to get ready for this season. Now we have to get more solid all the way around. We've got things we need to improve upon like any other team. But if you look at us as a whole, I don't think that anyone can argue that we're not improved from where we were a year ago." -- C Al Horford, when asked if he thought this Hawks team was better than the one he played on during his rookie season.