--If you didn't know any better, you'd think Mike Woodson couldn't stand Al Horford. He never talks about his third-year center. He rarely mentions Horford's name. But there's a good reason for that.
Woodson said he hasn't had to worry about his starting center doing anything other than what's asked of him.
And this season, you can count on that being a whole lot more, particularly on the offensive end of the floor.
"I know one thing," Woodson said. "I have to get him more touches to the point where he's a threat. Between him and Zaza (Pachulia), we need to be able to muster at least 20 points a night. If we can get Al at about 12 or 13 points and double-digit rebounds and Zaza somewhere around eight to 10 points, then we're talking."
Horford prepared this summer for more work on the offensive end than he's had in his first two seasons, when he's been more of a situational post scorer than a featured performer.
Scoring points, however, isn't his main concern.
"I think I've got to get after it a little more," Horford said. "A lot of times I've been focusing so hard on holding it down in the post for our team that I haven't focused as much on offense. I'm not too worried about because we have more scorers now than we did a year ago. And I feel like that's going to help me because it will open the floor a little more for me and Josh (Smith) and give us some more room to operate down low."
Horford won't have to do all the work himself. Woodson has incorporated a few new tweaks to the offense to jumpstart Horford's improving offensive game, which includes a much improved 17-foot jumper and an array of quick moves around the basket that he's yet to fully unleash.
"He's going to be fine," Woodson said. "Honestly, I just don't ever concern myself with Al because he's always been so much more advanced than your average rookie. Defending and rebounding, he does it all. Offensively he has to get a little better, but that's where we come in as coaches. We have to help make that happen."
MAIN REASON THE HAWKS CAN WIN: With so many accomplished offensive weapons, this team will be able to attack from all directions. That means Woodson has to spread the wealth and stop relying solely on Joe Johnson to be the catalyst on that end of the floor.
MAIN REASON THE HAWKS CAN LOSE: Like any other team, the Hawks are only going to be as good as they are healthy. Their biggest struggles a year ago came with the injuries to Josh Smith (early), Al Horford (middle) and Marvin Williams (late). They must steer clear of the injury bug that ravaged division rival Washington last year.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We've got goals this season that include showing and proving that we belong among the best teams in the league. But we're tired of talking about it. We have to go out and let our actions do the talking for us now." -- F Josh Smith, on the team goals they have set for this season.