A look back at the 2010-11 Hawks

It seems fitting that a season filled with inconsistency and contradictions ended with the biggest surprise of them all for the Hawks.

Somehow a team that was outscored for the season, got blown out regularly at home and played a flawed offensive style ended the franchise’s 15-game losing streak in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

After middling opponents such as Philadelphia embarrassed them and they turned in so-so defensive efforts for six months, the energized Hawks made the top-seeded Bulls sweat before losing in six games.

“We’ve shown we can play with anybody,” Hawks guard Jamal Crawford said during the Bulls series, “and some nights we can play with nobody.”

That contradiction is reflected when looking back at a player-by-player review of the season.

Al Horford, C/F

Look back: Horford was the Hawks’ most consistent player while posting career highs of 15.3 points per game and 56 percent shooting. Horford was a good all-court defender and ranked 10th in the NBA in rebounds per game. His post moves are still mechanical, and he struggled to score in the playoffs.

Look ahead: Horford, who turns 25 on June 3, signed a five-year, $60 million contract extension in November. He started 30 games at power forward alongside either Jason Collins or Zaza Pachulia, and all signs indicate he would like to play less center in the future.

Josh Smith, F

Look back: His teammates often said the team’s fortunes depended on Smith playing his high-energy game and defending, rebounding, and running. A pair of injuries to his right knee seemed to rob him of some explosiveness. He began the season shooting a respectable percentage on his jump shots, but his accuracy steadily declined until bottoming out in the playoffs.

Look ahead: Smith, 25, is owed about $26 million through the 2012-13 season. His age, production and relatively reasonable contract make him an asset. Those same factors, plus Horford playing the same position, also could make him a trade chip.

Joe Johnson, G

Look back: The Hawks were widely criticized for signing Johnson to the richest contract in the NBA last summer, but they said the move was necessary to keep the team moving forward. He had his least productive and efficient scoring season in Atlanta this season. Some of that might have been related to an elbow injury that eventually required surgery. He had some big playoff moments, but couldn’t produce consistently against defenses designed to limit him.

Look ahead: Johnson, who turns 30 on June 29, is owed about $107 million through 2015-16. In the playoffs Johnson showed signs that he can integrate his one-on-one style with Drew’s team concept.

Jamal Crawford, G

Look back: Crawford won the NBA’s Sixth Man Award with a career year in 2009-10, but his scoring and shooting percentages took a nosedive this season. Crawford, a natural scorer, never seemed comfortable with his playmaking duties in Drew’s offense. Like Johnson, Crawford, 31, had some big games in the playoffs, but eventually was smothered by Chicago’s aggressive defense.

Look ahead: He is eligible to become a free agent this offseason. General manager Rick Sund said the team wants to re-sign Crawford, but financial constraints may make there figures to be a strong market for Crawford.

Marvin Williams, F

Look back: Williams had another disappointing season after re-signing in August 2009. He remained a competent wing defender, but his offensive production was inconsistent.

Look ahead: Williams, who turns 25 on June 19, is owed about $25 million through the 2013-14 season. The Hawks may have to hope he still can fulfill the potential he showed as a younger player.

Zaza Pachulia, C

Look back: Pachulia was the Hawks’ primary backup center for most of the season, but fell out of Drew’s rotation and expressed unhappiness with his role. The team explored trading Pachulia, 27, at the deadline, but he ended up being key to the team’s playoff success.

Look ahead: He is owed about $10 million through 2012-13. His rebounding, defense and physical style make him the team’s best reserve big man.

Jeff Teague, G

Look back: Teague never was a permanent part of Drew’s rotation during the season. An injury to starting point guard Kirk Hinrich thrust Teague into the lineup in the Eastern Conference semifinals, and he flourished while showing remarkable poise and consistency.

Look ahead: He will make $1.6 million in 2011-12, the final season of his rookie contract. He could be the team’s starting point guard next season.

Kirk Hinrich, G

Look back: The Hawks acquired Hinrich in a February trade with Washington to replace starting point guard Mike Bibby. Hinrich, 30, proved his worth in the first round against Orlando as a strong defender and efficient scorer.

Look ahead: He is owed $8.1 million in 2011-12. He could start at point guard or shooting guard or possibly play as a reserve next season.

Pape Sy, G

Look back: The Hawks’ second-round pick in 2010, Sy played 23 games for Utah of the NBA Development League and 23 minutes for the Hawks.

Look ahead: Sy’s $789,000 salary for next season is not guaranteed. The Hawks already have spent about $600,000 for Sy’s 2010-11 salary and a buyout for his French club team, so he should start the season on the roster.

Magnum Rolle, F

Look back: Rolle was playing for Maine of the D-League until the Hawks signed him April 11. He did not appear in a game.

Look ahead: Rolle’s $789,00 salary for 2011-12 is not guaranteed. He is expected to be part of the team’s training-camp roster.

Free-agent eligible this summer

Damien Wilkins, G/F

Look back: The Hawks signed Wilkins, 31, to a pair of 10-day contracts before signing him for the rest of the season Jan. 28. He appeared in 52 games and helped boost the team’s perimeter defense.

Josh Powell, F

Look back: The Hawks signed Powell, 28, as a free agent last summer. He appeared in 54 games.

Jason Collins, C

Look back: The Hawks re-signed Collins, 32, last summer in large part so the 7-footer could defend Orlando’s Dwight Howard in the playoffs. He played that role well in the first round against the Magic.

Etan Thomas, C

Look back: Thomas, 33, signed as a free agent last summer and played 82 minutes in 13 games.

Hilton Armstrong, C

Look back: Armstrong, 26, came with Hinrich in the trade with Washington. He appeared in 12 regular-season games.