The Bill Comes Due (we knew it would)

All those discussions, regarding Woody’s sparse use of his bench earlier this season, always had an air of foreboding.  Injuries, to key players, is a reality of the NBA (and all professional/collegiate sports).  So when a coach like Woody makes a conscious decision to under utilize his bench, on an ongoing basis, it can mean one of two things:

1) He’s too worried about winning each individual game, to an extent that he’s willing to roll the dice, risking the season, as a whole, and leaving his team without a well-developed bench, ill-prepared for an injury like the one to Horford, or,

2) He doesn’t believe the bench he has, no matter how much run he gives them, is capable of competing against opposing teams.  He doesn’t believe he can win with those players.

Since the latter theory contradicts the general consensus of most Hawks’ fans, that Woody has the strongest bench he ever been provided with, by simple exclusion, it points to the former (that’s point #1 for those of you confounded by references to “former” and “latter”).  If this was a new concern, if Woody hadn’t ridden his starters like dogs, all last season, there might be more of a question as to what gives.  But, as folks have been chatting up SINCE last season, this is no surprise here.

So, today, with Al Horford out, the Hawks got spanked at home by the Sixers.  And let’s not lay too much weight on Horford’s absence without highlighting that the Sixers are without all-star power forward, Elton Brand.  We were outrebounded by 15 primarily by a small forward (Young) and a rookie (Speights).

Add to this train of thought the long-standing opinion of many (certainly me) that continuing to play Horford at center, instead of his natural position of power forward, would limit the upside of this current team.  With the recent run of losses, this thought has apparently re-emerged (based on what I’ve read from folks).  With Horford out, our starting frontline, for the next few games will be (in my ongoing opinion) two small forwards and an obvious second-team center.  This is going to present a very real challenge for the Hawks during Horford’s absence.  And I think games like today are going to create an ever-evolving blueprint for how opposing teams attack the Hawks.

It seems like Woody doesn’t have much of a choice but to give Solo and RandMo some run here.  He lost without them today.  So the outcome can’t be any worse if he gives them a chance.  And it’s the only hope he has, that the Hawks have, of developing a reliable bench.  From that perspective, Horford’s injury, if it was to happen at all, and it appears that he will not be out for an extended period, couldn’t have come at a better time.

But all this really then comes back to the front office and ownership.  How do they feel about the development potential and ability of the young big men they’ve provided for Woody and the team?  If they have a seemingly higher opinion, in that regard, to they push their head coach to give these guys a chance?  Or do they now look to make some moves?

What’s become pretty clear is that the Hawks are not in the same class, as the roster is currently constructed, as the Cavs, the Celtics and the Magic (in my opinion).

Does the organization make a concerted effort to build on the potential of this years’ team, by looking to acquire the kind of improved front line talent that could conceivably give them a shot to take on the first-tier of the Eastern Conference?  Or do they settle (and that’s almost an unfair term to use for a situation that sees the best Hawks team in over a decade, but failing to seek in-season improvements to your roster, is, by it’s very definition “settling”) and go with what they’ve got?

And, finally, as most of you know, I’ve been running an ongoing commentary on my belief that the ASG is in a very tenuous position, from a cash flow standpoint, with annual operational losses, a significantly higher payroll (as long as Bibby stays here) and a credit market that’s extremely unwilling to extend cash to support under-performing businesses.

So the question isn’t just about whether the front office and the owners WILL make an effort to bolster this season’s roster:  it’s really a question of whether they can AFFORD to.

What do you folks out there think about all that??

73 comments Add your comment

The Hawksta

January 11th, 2009
9:18 pm

As usual great read Ando!

However, when you counting other people’s money the conversation can get kind of testy! The only person I think is of any immediate use to the Hawks is Wilcox from OkC. So now that we know who we need it’s a matter of putting together a package, crunching the numbers and finding out whether this can work.

doc

January 11th, 2009
9:44 pm

nice stuff ando, short on semi-colons, something personal?

since you brought up the fella, mr young looked pretty good for a third year college kid. at half time i posed this question to melvin and manny t. if you had a choice who would you take, marvin or thadeus? surprisingly there were two answers. good chatting up those two guys and hanging a bit with melvin as he dropped down to some empty seats next to me.

not a good crowd today, family day and little to cheer about.

Sautee

January 11th, 2009
9:53 pm

Oooo doc, a low blow!

Ando, I’ll come back tomorrow and discuss.

JJ

January 11th, 2009
10:15 pm

Our defense at the guard positions,especially at PG,is killing the Hawks.Does Bibby’s offense compensate for his lack of defense?I don’t think so.You win with defense,and early on this season we were playing good D,but I think we started to believe we were a great offensive team.Our TEAM has to play DEFENSE……

MannyT

January 12th, 2009
3:17 am

doc…As soon as Marvin learns that like a good pitcher, he needs 2 good moves. Right now he has about 8 mediocre moves. The problem being he outthinks himself when he gets the ball if it is not an obvious 3 point shot. Simplifying will make his offense better. His defense has improved this year.

The Young fella will be good, but you are tempting me to go back to my old standard…if Marvin played there and Thad played here, would you have the same argument. There is a Woody factor that makes this question less obvious than you state.

Ando…the Hawks can afford a move, but I don’t know that they will make one. The affordability comes in doing what they did last season. If you want to send an expiring contract (Zaza) or two (Marvin) out, you can get a decent player in return for that 9+ mil. You could probably get something done with either Josh as well. However, I think the ASG would be against that move unless we really hit a severe downward spiral like down to 9th in the east.

All that said, if he wasn’t hurt, I’d put in a call for Chris Kaman. Others may look at Channing Frye, but I wonder what we could offer Portland? They do need to save some cap room now that Miles will add about 9 mil to their cap number, but Frye makes less than Zaza.

BWAF

O'brien

January 12th, 2009
12:31 pm

JJ…Winning with defense is the correct way. But you can also win by outscoring opponents, and the Hawks are able to win some games that way. Uptempo, and running. However, Woody refuses to let them play that way.

The ironic thing is that if Woody let the Hawks run, that would hide some of his obvious strategic coaching deficiencies.

Good read Ando. The bad thing is if the bench does not play well immediately (for whatever reason) people will be quick to say thats why they don’t get any PT. Completely ignoring the fact that it takes consistent PT and confidence (and Woody plays a huge role).

shresee2

January 12th, 2009
12:47 pm

The inprovements to the bench in the off season were good compared to previous years. However, we all know Al is no center and he is getting beat up down there. If this continues the starting five may not 100% at playoff time. JJ even said after Sunday’s lost to the sixers that the starting 5 are not clicking and digging a hole before the bench players come in. It took the Cav’s and the Celtics years to develop a nucleus of winning basketball. Although money is an issue ownership has to see if a good product is on the floor people will come. Even with the economy tight, people want a reason to cheer and get together. Biddy is good but his defense is lacking at times. Flip can drive the lane but causes to many turn overs. JJ said this is the best year he has had here because they are winning and playing like a team. However, all that yelling Woodson is doing has not motivated them.

cjizzle

January 12th, 2009
3:02 pm

I think Woody needs to get Law involved more off the bench. We need to see what this kid can do.At times he looks like he has some skills however, he disappears from the rotation even when the team is getting blown Away. The last three games the team has been very flat!! Perhaps Law could and would have provided a much needed lift. Can anyone say late season colapse from a top seed to a bottom playoff seed again!!!

Big Ray

January 12th, 2009
4:51 pm

Nice post, Ando.

Good comments following it, too.

Rod from College Park

January 12th, 2009
5:32 pm

Doc,

The answer to your question is that I would take Thaddeus Young over Marvin any and all days of the week. It is amazing to me how many times this year I have heard that Marvin has improved. I will give him a little credit on defense, but the defensive improvement makes him close to average, and not terrible. He is such a limited player. He can not create his own shot. He can’t stay on his feet when he drives. I have never seen a 6′11 guy fall to the ground as much as duck. His handles are questionable. He can only hit a shot when he is wide open, and that is still iffy. He should be the main guy on the trading block. We really need someone at the three who can take someone of the dribble and get to the lane, as we have enough stand still jump shooters (Bibby, Joe, Evans, Flip). Young’s game needs work, but he is fluent and has a very high basketball IQ (which is amazing because, I know that Paul Hewitt did not help to develop that). Marvin should definately be the odd man out. Think of all the young 3’s in the league (Granger, Young, Deng, Prince, Melo, Thorton, Chandler, Howard, Gay, Durant,Outlaw…), can you honestly say that you would take Marvin over any of them now. I can’t. We won’t even go into the fact that he was drafted with the #2 pick in the draft. Maybe Denver will trade Melo for Marvin, since they got drafted in the same position in the draft and Marvin is a little younger. (That was a joke).

Big Ray

January 12th, 2009
8:29 pm

Rod,

Some interesting points. I hear you on Thad Young and the others. One has to wonder if Marvin could do similar things if he came up under a different coach, and therefore under a different system. Of course, this has been debated many times before.

On the flip side of the coin, some of a player’s development is squarely on the player. You know, those who help themselves get helped out…that sort of thing. However, there’s one guy on your list that I’d not take over Marvin at this particular moment: Deng. He’s stinking it up in Chicago (when he’s healthy that is), and is certainly not earning the $71 million dollar contract that he held out for last summer. He was better last year and supposedly onto the next level. Heh….

Should you judge a player by his draft position? Or should you judge the person that picked him there?

Chea

January 12th, 2009
9:00 pm

Ando, dude, could, you, possibly, use, any, more, commas?

And “tenuous”? Is this a Hawks/SAT/GRE blog?

Our owners want as much stability as possible with the Belkin mess looming, so Woody knows he has his job until it’s all resolved. Any pressure they apply on Woody to use his bench is superficial. The ASG is reticent about things like that anyway. Oops, did I say reticent? Damn Ando, you are contagious. Like Anal Fissures.

HB Ando

January 12th, 2009
9:22 pm

Chea, yes, I could, possibly, use more commas, if irritated enough. I’ll tell you what’s “tenuous”: some random speaking, as fact, that the ASG is committed to stability until the Belkin mess is resolved, and that, in turn, Woody KNOWS his job is secure, until that issue is resolved.

And I’m not reticent to point such an observation, out.

P.S I’ve never heard of contagious anal fissures, and I’m kind of grossed out by anyone who has expert knowledge of such things (unless you’re a proctologist, which my commas doubt, at the most cynical level, clinically speaking).

HB Ando

January 12th, 2009
9:29 pm

By the way, Chea, could I get some of your “pets” at a volume discount?

Just, wondering….

HB Ando

January 12th, 2009
10:10 pm

Let’s go back through the other responses and see what happens:

Hawksta: thanks, and true dat…

doc: I’m short on colon. Bringing in “semi” seems redundant…

JJ: slow PG + undersized front line = flawed defense (at least over an 82-game season). There’s a reason the Hawks fell off when Smith was out. He’s the X-factor, who makes up for the simplistic equation above. But what I wondered, out loud, when we started out 6-0, was could the Hawks possibly maintain the playoff level of intensity that they came out with, over an 82-game season. The answer was, and is (with a nod to Chea), no.

Manny: I don’t know how you can validate, any more than Chea, that the ASG “can afford a move”. I’ve done my best to point out why I don’t think they can afford the current payroll, a full $10 million greater than last year, and any previous year. Where’s you’re evidence? As far as a healthy Kaman, I’d say the Clippers would be far more likely to move the expiring contract, of a guy who’s 10 years older, in the name of Camby. And I’d be willing to take a shot in that direction (I’d be far more interested in giving a 30-plus Camby a 4-5 year deal than a similarly aged Bibby). Frye is starting to develop the reputation of Melvin Ely. A guy who gets a lot of talk, but continues to fail to impress, as the years quickly pass.

shresee2: hard to find fault with anything you said.

Rod: I’m struggling to jump into your point, because I’m not sure I can find the time necessary to fully extrapolate my opinion. It’s the TRUTH, what you say. Anyone who’s been following Sekou’s blog, since it’s inception, knows that I’ve beaten the poop out of the Chris Paul issue (for those who might read this and haven’t, no less than Sekou Smith has backed the fact that I resolutely called for the Hawks to draft Paul BEFORE we took Marvin). The generalization of your point is grounded in the position that great “wings” have always been somewhat discounted, in the draft, in exchange for teams seeking either the next great big, or the next great “one”. There are several names that you highlight (notably, Granger, Gay and Durant), who are worth discussing. But Durant was the #2 overall. And ‘Melo was 3rd overall, famously behind Darko. More noteworthy, in that draft was that Bosh was #4 and Wade was #5.

If I was going to make a point about the recent history of great wings, and where they were taken, I’d actually point to both Pierce and our own JJ. Both were taken 10th overall. Both were viewed as “complete” talents (not unlike Granger, who was taken 17th in ‘05, just a year later than the Hawks had Josh Smith fall in their laps). If someone wants to carve out some meaning from all the wings you highlighted, with Pierce and JJ reasonably added to the mix, it’s that the league has historically viewed the wing position as easier to fill.

It’s that very point that I made to one of the owners, in e-mail correspondence, right after Marvin was drafted. What I said was that I questioned the local hype regarding Marvin as a once-in-a-decade forward (I’m pretty confident that you could track that position back to a certain hall-of-fame Hawk, who’s currently acting as an announcer for the local squad), given the (at the time) projected expectations of Rudy Gay, who was expected to come out the next year (and, in addition to Brandon Roy and Randy Foye, were all taken after the infamous Sheldon Williams).

Say it with me, “Chris Paul”……….

Say it with me, “Brandon Roy”……….

Say it with me, “Ugggggghhhhhhhhhh”……….

Just don’t try and say these opinions are hindsight. They weren’t, aren’t, and never will be……..

doc

January 12th, 2009
10:14 pm

um for clarity, anal fissures are not contagious, contiguous maybe just not contagious.

rod, cant argue the point. what it does say is marvin has not lived up to the billing he didnt ask for which was he is a one in ten year player. i really like what marvin has done this year only as i watched the finesse, smoothness and motor of the kid i had to wonder. he was probably the surprise of the draft last year as he made a huge impact from the point they put him in the line up and i doubt many expected it of him. dont know how he fits in the scheme of things with elton brand but he did seem comfortable shooting threes, leading the break and finishing at the rim and playing with the big boys.

HB Ando

January 12th, 2009
11:18 pm

I’ve had a lot of folks scoff at my pre-season suggestion that the Hawks, committed to a long-term front line of Smith and Horford, might look to swap Marvin for Bargnani. Bargnani’s last five games: 21.4 points, 7.4 boards, 1.2 blocks, 3.4 (3.4!!!!!!!!) 3’s (17-26, which is over 60%), and around 55% overall from the field.

It was only a week or two ago that I mentioned to Ray that HoopsHype quoted Bargnani’s availability as Toronto acknowledged a need to balance out the lacking quickness of their front line.

I’ll say it again: with Smith and Horford, boarding from the 3 and 4, a guy like Bargnani would be perfect, despite his rebounding softness. It’s all about balance. And a front line of Smith, Horford and Bargnani would be relentlessly confounding for opposing defenses.

Based on reasonable projections, they’d average nearly 30 boards and 6 blocks a game. And Bargnani’s 3-point shooting would create crazy space for Josh drives and Horford’s developing low-post game.

Just sayin’………

doc

January 13th, 2009
12:03 am

you know ando life is tough you get criticized for too much punctuation and i last week for too little. i didnt know their were grammer police on the blog. left them in college i thought. if nothing else bro we bring balance to each other and i guess the blog as well. how nice and reaffirming. so keep on truckin man. ando, it is better to have half a colon than half an azz.

HB Ando

January 13th, 2009
12:12 am

Heh heh…..

Don!

January 13th, 2009
8:23 am

With the NBA trading deadline fast approaching, I have one real, deep fear for these Hawks — trading Bibby. If we struggle badly over the next few weeks … and we might … I think there’s a real possibility that the ASG will dump Bibby to avoid paying the remainder of his salary for the year.

This is where the lack of run for Acie, and the rest of the benched bench comes into play. When everyone was healthy, we really needed to get these guys some more run. Now that Big Al is out, our other bigs will get some time — but that’s something that should have been addressed BEFORE the injury.

The same may well hold true at the PG position for this team. Either though age, injury or trade — Bibby may not be here the whole year, and almost assuredly not next season. We need to start looking at some other folks here and now.

Maybe the expectations will be lowered over the next couple of weeks for this team, so that Woody feels like he can get the players not currently getting good minutes some good minutes. That way, our remaining players will be better off for the stretch run, and if we do make a move before the trading deadline, we have a better evaluation of our own talent to make solid decisions with.

One other issue bothers me at this point, and it’s been glossed over in the good start to the season. Woody, Sund and the ASG have no real history with each other. They may not all be on the same page. That can cause problems, especially when a team is at an important transition point in their development like the Hawks are now. We have the makings of a good team, but so did the Bulls two years ago. One or two smart moves will make the Hawks contenders (like the Cetlics), but one or two bad moves will make us pretenders (like the Bulls). Or we could just get stuck in the middle for the next decade like the Nets.

I really would like to see better signs of unity from the ASG, Sund and Woody in terms of playing, developing and keeping talent over the next few weeks. In Woody’s case, playing more folks. In Sund’s case, shaking the trees around the league to find folks compatible with Woody’s system, and in ASG’s case, making the public announcement to simply continue supporting this team for now and the foreseeable future.

I don’t know. I think we’re at a crossroads here. As the blog title says, “The Bill Comes Due.”

So are we going to pay it, or file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy? Hawks fans want to know.

Later,

Don!

Sautee

January 13th, 2009
8:34 am

I can’t say ANYTHING about the “low humor” on this blog, lest MannyT become convinced that I am fixated somewhere I’d rather NOT be fixated. ;-)

Rod from College Park

January 13th, 2009
10:13 am

Enter your comments here

Rod from College Park

January 13th, 2009
10:50 am

Ando,

I actually like the Bargnani idea. It would definately change the the look ouf our team dramatically. I just know that a move does need to made if we seriously want to compete in the east. I am glad to know that you do kind of agree with me. I have just finally come to realize that Marvin is a true bust. I have really had a problem this year with all the comments about how his game has improved. I actually feel like he has gotten worse. He seems like he is missing more free throws, he does not hit the open shot like he used to, and he consistently falls when he penetrates, and can not finish consistently. Barring a trade for a big man, I really feel like a wing player who can create his own shot, slash, and penetrate to kick or finish at the rim would really change the dynamics of this team. I feel like Marvin is that piece that we really need to get rid of because he does nothing for the team.

Melvin

January 13th, 2009
11:43 am

I think Sund is savvy enough to allow Woody to do his job how he sees fit without interfering or mandating some specifics. Therefore, if things does not go accoordingly to expectations then Woody would have hung himself with his own rope…

Chea

January 13th, 2009
1:25 pm

When we are winning and Marvin is playing solid (not quite inspired, but solid) man-to-man defense and is content to go off to the side on offense and drain the jumper when his number is called, he will look like a good fit. When the other starters aren’t bringing the swagger and we go down by 50, Marvin’s willingness to go off the the side becomes quite annoying. Let’s face it, Marvin is an athletic jump-shooter with great length and no swagger. He doesn’t have the desire to dominate; he doesn’t even seem like he has all that much fun playing. It’s like bball is his duty, not his passion.

I would take the risk with Bargnani. Marvin’s usefulness on the floor and our overall intensity, for which other players are mostly responsible, go hand-in-hand. Barg’s skill set would do us better. This trade would have been a hail no at the beginning of the season, but now, gotta roll the dice, given how Bargnani is playing with JO out. Hopefully JO gets back and drives Barg’s value down.

Please don’t say that trading Marv would be an overreacting to recent woes. I wonder if anyone knows/can look up the farthest a team has advanced after being down 50 at some point in the season. Being down 50 is no joke; it necessitates a change. This team reminds me (slightly) of the 04-05 Falcons, luckily advancing to the NFC Championship despite gaping holes shown while losing to the Chiefs 56-10 (8 rushing tds!) and the Bucs 27-0. We have some gaping holes of our own: lack of an offensive system that consistently uses the post, frontcourt depth, and the horrendous management/development of our bench (we play 82 games Woody). Unless the NBA suddenly changes its playoff format to single-elimination, we aren’t going to go as far as those Falcons, let alone win it all.

jhan

January 13th, 2009
1:50 pm

I agree Melvin. Woody will be his own judge & jury. He has a team full of vets with a couple of young players sprinkled in. Bibby, JJ & Al Horford are players that any coach would like to have. Josh & Marvin have been tutored exclusively by Woody since they came into the league. Woody has had 4 1/2 years to mold them into players that fit his system. If they continue to underperform or won’t buy into Woodys system then either the players or coach needs to go.

Najeh Davenpoop

January 13th, 2009
5:00 pm

Bargnani still plays zero defense. If you want to trade Marvin, trade him for someone who competes on both ends of the floor.

I think shifting J-Smoove back to SF will only expose his below-average ball handling skills even more and leave him guarding perimeter players too often, making it harder for him to play help defense inside where he makes the biggest impact. And if Bargnani is gonna be on the floor, J-Smoove’s help defense will be more important than ever.

The roster is not what needs to change. If Mike Woodson would get the Hawks to push the ball more, none of these roster issues would be a big deal. I’m never a fan of changing personnel because the coach isn’t good enough to use them properly.

If any personnel move should be made it should be bench-related. I’d be open to, for example, trading Flip Murray for DeSagana Diop. Yeah, the Hawks need more size, but Bargnani is not the answer.

richbrave

January 13th, 2009
5:29 pm

SAUTEE:

Low humor? How about thong low? drMARYb, where are you.

richbrave

January 13th, 2009
5:32 pm

Hey doc and H.B.:

You bums are the worst grammerians I ever red.

doc

January 13th, 2009
6:35 pm

richbrave are you talking about my age again?

Big Ray

January 13th, 2009
9:04 pm

Game time. It has to be tonight. If not, then it doesn’t happen. The Hawks have to get back on track NOW. Or continue to spiral. Sure, a three game losing streak is not cause for panic or worry, but if you want to climb your way out of a hole, do you go lie down and take a nap? Or do you start clawing at the walls?

Now or never. Don’t compete tonight, and the wolves come out. None of the teams we visit out in the West can be taken for granted. Not even the Clippers. Game time. Let’s do this.

Don!

January 13th, 2009
9:34 pm

Ray, it looks like our Hawks are Dancing With Wolves.

Or maybe playing like wolves … the T-Wolves, and that ain’t good.

Not good at all.

Later,

Don!

Don!

January 13th, 2009
9:39 pm

31 -16, Suns killing Hawks at the end of the 1st. Josh gets rejected by Amare with 2.5 seconds to go, and that’s a good metaphor of the game so far.

Ladies and gentlemen, your Atlanta Hawks.

I think I’m going to go throw up now.

Later,

Don!

richbrave

January 13th, 2009
10:03 pm

‘Zup doctor in the house? Makers Mark night. Big meeting today with the Pres. of the U of R. We’re collaberating on a portion of his next book. I’m a happy man in one sense, but really bummed at seeing the HAWKS in WIZARDS mode. What did WOODSON do, show our heros a tape of a LIZARDS game and say “play like this?”

Don!

January 13th, 2009
10:10 pm

50 – 46 at the half.

And we had an Acie sighting before the late fourth quarter too … coincidence?

Later,

Don!

Big Ray

January 13th, 2009
10:20 pm

After an dismal first quarter, the Hawks get the motor purring in the second, outscoring Phoenix 30-19. I was beginning to despair.

Keys to the surge include better defense (of course), and smarter offense.

One of the biggest differences is something my man SAUTEE brought up. Flip Murray is doing what he should have been doing all along: taking a few steps inside the arc and hitting the mid-range jumper. Not only is it more effective, but he looks comfortable doing it. That makes all the difference. No reckless turnover-laden drives to the basket. No impossible fadeaways against opposing SFs and PFs. No impromptu 3s without his feet being set.

It’s a good thing Marvin and Zaza are playing with inspiration on the glass, collecting 7 rebounds apiece. Josh Smith isn’t doing diddly-squat on either end. And he’s shooting as bad as JJ and Bibby. His body language tells me he’s very unhappy. Dude needs to snap the heck out of it. Where, oh where, is the guy we had back in the season’s first 5 games?

Speaking of Zaza, I’m proud of the guy. Hell of an effort out there tonight with 8 points and 7 boards, playing against Shaq and Co.

We finished the half well. Now we need to get out on a good run to start the third quarter, and maintain a lead. It can be done. It must be done. Or we will waltz our sorry butts into two losses right after that against subpar teams. Mark THAT down.

Big Ray

January 13th, 2009
10:37 pm

Here we go AGAIN…

Big Ray

January 13th, 2009
10:38 pm

Never thought I’d say this, but can we PLEASE put Law and Flip back in?

Bibby and JJ are getting overrun on defense, and aren’t giving us a single thing on offense. This is ridiculous. And we now have more turnovers than assists. That’s an easy way to lose.

HB Ando

January 13th, 2009
11:57 pm

1-5 in January. Hmm.

Can’t really lean too hard on a six-game stretch, but that was true when they started 6-0 at the beginning of the season.

I will say that the same flaws that were suggested, pre-season, by folks like me, are the exact same flaws that are being exposed during this stretch (brief?) of futility.

Big Ray

January 14th, 2009
12:03 am

Starting backcourt (2 players): 38 shots, 10 of them made.

Starting frontcourt (3 players): 38 shots, 19 of them made.

We keep doing this…why?

10 assists, all game long. 8 turnovers. That is not a good margin by any stretch of the imagination. And here’s the deal: if we aren’t careful, we will get whooped by Golden State and L.A. as well. Golden State is always a threat to run you out of the gym, and they can make shots. L.A. has a few youngsters who are on the rise and very hungry. Now is not the time for a let-down but we’ve already lost the first game in the string. Can Woody get these guys re-focused?

Can he rely on his veteran backcourt to get things going right? I’d say that is a very good question, because his veteran backcourt didn’t deliver the goods at all tonight. Having said that, Bibby played much better than Joe in the late 4th quarter crunch. Joe gave us next to nothing on both ends of the court. And I’m tired of watching him do that. He does not lead.

And we are in need of leadership. 42 minutes, but I can hardly tell you what he was doing out there during that time. I recall a couple of one-handed shots and a few rebounds. The rest is a murky blur…

BA

January 14th, 2009
4:05 am

I noticed a concentrated effort on the part of Murray to move the ball, protect the ball, and of course score the ball. This guy would be an All-Star if they only counted his stats every other night.

Pachulia, as Ray pointed out, worked his azz off tonight on Shaq (was that Shaq?!), and contested (you know, made it harder to see) a number of the Diesel’s jumpers.

Morris looked fundamentally sound, and Law has developed a nice chemistry with Murray- guess the second team came away from the practice with something.

Overall, a great game to watch (even though it gave me heartburn). I don’t have a lot to complain about, just a tough loss to a very good Western Conference team on the road. Sometimes your star is going to miss the big shots.

Why don’t we run more slashing type plays with Williams and Smith? That would facilitate ball movement and make shots for the two of them, who are having to ad-lib the few shots they’re taking.

G Money

January 14th, 2009
7:14 am

Hey guys,

You’re absolutely right. The bill has come due. The questions that I have are:
Do we believe JJ is burned out/disinterested/doesn’t take criticism well/is injured or is just going through a slump?

Do we believe that we can’t be successful ala Golden State with a smaller front court that retains our current players?

Whatever the backcourt woes, we’ve got to work on them. More than anything else, we’re suffering from poor shooting. Big men aside, with respectable shooting from the floor and the foul line, we’ve won at least two of the past 4 we’ve dropped (Orlando at home and PHX last night).

It would be great if Woody could conjure up some of Riley’s old motivational tricks to fire this team up. That is the missing ingredient. Yea, a big man would help – if he’s a quality big man. Don’t see many of those guys running around for little or nothing. Serviceable isn’t good enough to take us to the top.

MannyT

January 14th, 2009
9:08 am

If you dig a little deeper into those shooting stats, Josh could be lumped in with Mike and Joe on that shooting. He was better, but not great…the 3 were a combined 19 for 60. Zaza and not-Thad (i.e. Marvin) were 10 for 16.

I would also add that the shooting 3 all had negative +/-, while Zaza who had to Superman-up against Shaq came in with the balanced 0 which I acknowledge as a major effort and positive for our depleted front court. The one starter with a + rating…not-Thad.

In fact, Marvin had a +6 rating while playing 40 minutes. Because we lost by 5 this means in the 8 minutes that he was out the Hawks were -11 as a team. Seems like not-Thad could tell several of y’all that his big bottom clearly pulled its weight against the Suns.

This allows the easy segue to Thad has a ton of potential, but RIGHT NOW, Marvin is a bigger contributor.

For this post, I’ll let the local ESPN stat geek do the heavy lifting.
Thad
http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/players/hollinger?playerId=3244&action=login&appRedirect=http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/players/hollinger%3fplayerId%3d3244

not-Thad
http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/players/hollinger?playerId=2797&action=login&appRedirect=http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/players/hollinger%3fplayerId%3d2797

BWAF

Big Ray

January 14th, 2009
10:55 am

Manny,

From that perspective, you make an excellent point.

Consider a few things:

1. Josh attempted only on 3, though he did attempt some jumpers. Bibby and JJ attempted 12 threes of the 38 shots they attempted, accounting for roughly one third of their shot attempts.

2. Josh has not taken that many shots in a game all season. In fact, he’s only come close to that twice. Once against Houston (19 attempts), and once against New Jersey (18 attempts). He usually takes anywhere from 10 to 14 shots in a game. Why was this game different? Easy….

3. With the clear #1 and #2 options on offense (we are running a perimeter oriented game are we not) not getting anything done, Josh automatically tries to assume a leadership role on offense. He can do this, but certain factors have to be present for it to be effective, and we’ve seen how it can work. During that span in which he averaged roughly 21 points a game, those factors were in place:

4. Josh has to be in the right spots, whether that is cutting across the lane, running the baseline for an alley-oop, or posting up/facing up a defender for a spin move or a drive to the bucket. For that to happen, we need a few things: Josh has to recognize where his sweet spots are. Whoever is handling the ball (that would be ANYBODY in your backcourt) needs to recognize his sweet spots as well and GET HIM THE BALL IN THOSE SPOTS. Finally, coaches and players alike have to stay on him about where he is most effective if he happens to stray away from what is working for him.

5. You can lump Josh into last night’s shooting debacle except for a few things: Josh did attempt some jumpers, but he only attempted one three pointer. Bibby and Johnson attempted 12 three pointers of their 38 total shot attempts. That account for nearly a third of their shot attempts. At least Josh hit for 41% (like you say, not great). But it beats 35% and 19%….from offensive options #1 and #2, no less…..

Anyway, just a different perspective, not really an argument.

Big Ray

January 14th, 2009
11:30 am

I see I managed to repeat myself in #5. Started writing the post one way, then changed it to something else, and forgot what I wrote in #1. Sheesh….

I don’t get the Marvin vs. Thad Young thing.

Marvin had a good game last night. Where was the complaint on him? I must have missed it.

This +/- stuff is both a blessing and a curse, and I’m leaning more towards curse. To me, it’s just yet another stat used to prove a point or disprove a point, which of course can be undone by…you guessed it…another stat.

How does it account for guys who screw up for most of the game, then win it in the end for you with a few clutch shots? I’ll bet he still gets a big fat -10 or something.

JJ shoots 19% and has the SAME +/- rating as Smith, who shoots more than twice the percentage (with nearly identical shot attempts), grabs three times as many rebounds, assist difference is negligible, and same number of turnovers….in TEN MINUTES LESS?? Explanation, please…Oh, it must have been the foul difference. JJ only had one, Smith had 4. Yeah…

And how is it that Solo and Mo Evans have the first and third worst +/- ratings for the game when they weren’t there long enough to do any real damage (okay, Solo had three fouls, but Shaq was in the game, what do you expect)?

I just don’t get the +/- stuff….I try to concentrate on who has the higher + rating and forget the rest…

But Marvin vs. Thad Young? Is this really an issue? And uh…the stat geek results were interesting. Marvin is marginally producing more than Young right now. But to read said Stat Geek’s thoughts….Thad is the one to have for the forseeable future, unless I’m mis-reading him. I don’t have a dog in this fight, as I don’t care to compare the two, feeling that we have MUCH LARGER issues.

But consider one thing: Marvin in his FOURTH year- 13.1 and 6.1. Young in his SECOND year- 13.2 and 5.0. Add to that the fact that nearly all else is equal in just about all of the categories. Marvin hits more threes, and is more accurate from that range (38% to Young’s 34%), while Young is a tad bit better overall from the field (47.9% to Marvin’s 46.7%).

The only big difference I can see is in the number of years played. And with that, all I am going to say (for the moment) is HMMMMMM…..

Don’t let Ando get ahold of this, the bill will come due part II…

jhan

January 14th, 2009
2:18 pm

It’s not always the number of mistakes a player makes that must be noted – it’s also WHEN the player makes the mistake.

If the team is up by 10 & a player makes a bone-headed mistake it usually goes unnoticed. The same player jacks up an ill advised shot with 39 seconds in the game when we really need a bucket – that player will get criticized a lot (even if he had played well before that).

That is where Josh Smith is right now. He does so many things well during a game, but seems to continually make the “bone-headed” play at the wrong time. It seems like he takes a bad shot, throws a bad pass, dribbles the ball off his foot, forgets to box out, is late on a defensive rotation at the absolute worst times.

Everyone on the team makes these same mistakes, it just seems like Josh has a bad case of timing. Is this related to his bball IQ like some think or is it just Murphy’s law for poor Josh.

Big Ray

January 14th, 2009
2:26 pm

Don’t know. Let’s just trade him for somebody who’s smarter.

HB Ando

January 14th, 2009
7:08 pm

Damn, Ray, if that’s the only factor we should use in trading Smith, he could be traded for almost anyone on the blogs.

Just ask us……..

I think there’s a bit of legitimacy to the (however pointless) Marvin vs. Young discussion. Both would have been lottery picks if they had come out straight from high school. Both looked a little overrated during their freshmen years. Neither seemed to suffer much, in the eyes of NBA scouts, when they entered the draft after their first year. Marvin is longer, leading to an ongoing discussion regarding whether he’s a 3 or a 4 (answer is 3, based on his lack of post-up game and disinclination to be a rebounding force). Young is a classic 3, who’s more explosive, and who seems inclined to go to the glass a little stronger (though the RPG numbers don’t currently support that subjective opinion).

I’ll stick with what I’ve been saying for almost 4 years: before it’s all said and done, either Marvin or Josh will need to go, because they both see themselves as small forwards (even though their games are drastically different). I don’t see the Hawks giving away Josh’s unique athletic skills. And I don’t see them paying Marvin a bunch of money to stay here. Not when JJ and Horford will be coming up for extensions in the very near future.

Of course the pink elephant in the room, in my opinion, is whether JJ really intends to stay in Atlanta for the long haul. If the organization gets an inkling he won’t, it changes the dynamics of how they would treat both Marvin and Bibby (if Bibby makes it through the trade deadline).

Big Ray

January 14th, 2009
11:07 pm

Exactly, Ando. Exactly.

Wow, Smith draws yet another charge. Must have been an accident (again). You know, him being so dumb and all.

Big Ray

January 14th, 2009
11:08 pm

Heh. 15-12 at the start of the 2nd quarter. I’m beginning to wonder if both teams are trying to see who can play worse…