Hawks first quarter report

The first twenty games in a season can tell you a lot about a team. It also doesn’t tell you nearly enough, depending on what you’re looking for. Either way, it’s a good time to gauge a team’s progress to an extent, and look for emerging trends and patterns. So, we’ll talk about the offense, defense, and the effect of coaches and players on each. After 22 games, the Hawks stand with a 16-6 record, good enough for third in the eastern conference, and fourth in the NBA overall. Surprised? Not surprised?

Offense

Atlanta is currently fifth in the NBA in points scored per game with an average of 104.68 ppg. The other hard numbers include a 47.2 field goal percentage, a 34.5 three point percentage, 77.2 free throw percentage, and 21.68 assists per game. The Hawks are outperforming their opponents in all of the aforementioned categories except three point percentage, where opponents are shooting 37%.

What’s the explanation, and who gets the credit for it? Well, a number of things factor into this, and most of them are related to each other. In no particular order of importance, the most obvious names involved with the Hawks’ improved offensive output are the following: Jamal Crawford, Al Horford, Josh Smith, Mike Woodson, and the bench.

First, there is the addition of Jamal Crawford. He came in as a career 40% shooter, but he has posted 16.6 ppg in roughly 30 mpg, while shooting a healthy 46.4% from the field. Crawford isn’t just the best sixth man the Hawks have had in years. He also has the ability on any and every night to come close to, match, or exceed Joe Johnson’s scoring output, whichever is needed. When they are on the floor together, Joe and Jamal can and often do give teams fits. Jamal pulls double teams away from Joe more often than not. You can’t double team both without paying the price, and both guys can burn opponents one on one. One thing that may go underutilized and/or unnoticed is Crawford’s passing ability. The gameplan generally calls for him to score, so he gets a tick under 3 assists per game. The good news is, he has no problem with passing the ball and can flip that switch on demand, something that last season’s much-appreciated sixth man (Flip Murray) wasn’t as good at.

Next is Al Horford. The Atlanta center may not impress you much with his scoring average improvement (+1.6 ppg), but there is more to it. Horford shot a pretty decent 52.5% from the field last season, and has upped that percentage to 57.8% this season. Say what you like, but that’s a mark up of 5.3%. In fact, Horford has improved his field goal percentage each year he has been in the league. More touches in the offense have certainly helped, but his game has gotten smoother as well. A turnaround jumper that we saw developing last season looks good, and Al has figured out how to use the quickness advantage he often has against opposing centers by attacking quicker than he used to.

Josh Smith is another guy whose immediate stat improvements won’t impress you by much. In the ‘07-’08 season, Josh enjoyed his best ppg output with an average of 17.2. He went backwards last season (arguably due in part to injury), ending with an average of 15.6. So far this season, he’s getting 15.3 ppg.  Not only does that NOT look like progress, it seems to be a clear cut case of regress. An understandable view but again, one stat is just not telling the whole story. Like Horford, Josh has raised his field goal percentage from 45.7 (2007-2008), to 49.2 (2008-2009), to 52.1% this season. Some of that can definitely be attributed to Josh’s decision to leave off the 3 point shot from his game, a promise he made this offseason and has so far kept to. Some of it also can be attributed to his renewed efforts to score in the paint, where he has a better chance at converting. In summation, Smith has become a more efficient scorer who for the most part is playing within his limits and not trying to overdo things. An increase in Smith’s scoring average is forseeable, but with the offense coming from so many capable players this season, it’s not likely to be a huge jump. All the same, Josh is producing this in a hair under 32 mpg, the fewest number of minutes he has played since his rookie year.

Probably the most controversial name on this short list is undoubtedly head coach Mike Woodson. How much credit does he get for the offensive success of this team? Is it possible that the Hawks are scoring more and better in spite of him, or are they achieving what they have directly because of him? Perhaps both lines of thought are too far in either direction. The Hawks are still labeled by many in the national media as not having an identity, particularly on offense. Woodson himself often draws criticism (probably far more locally than nationally) for the style of offense that he runs.

The main criticisms include complaints about too many ISO plays versus not enough pick and roll plays. Or, not enough pick and roll plays for certain players, or simply not enough plays run through certain players. When the Hawks struggle on offense, the ISO plays tend to become more prevalent, whether they are working or not. How much of this is Woodson’s style and philosophy at work, and how much is execution (or lack thereof) by the players?

In the end, the offense is far more potent than it has been in the last several years, and the numbers (stats and wins) show it. Something must be working, and it can’t all be coincidence or accident….right? Despite all the other questions, the ones that remain are these: Will the Hawks be able to maintain these winning ways throughout the season, with or without injury? Can they take these achievements and turn them into better postseason results?

Finally there is the reserve unit. Some starting players’ individual scoring averages and other statistics have been hurt by two things Hawks fans have anguished over for years. That would be better bench play, and big leads produced by the starting unit. Both have contributed heavily to the Hawks’ achievements on offense, and both may affect certain guys’ ability to make the all-star team. But I bet if you ask any Hawk player, they’ll tell you they could care less about that, as long as the wins are rolling in.

Unlike in times past, this season’s bench is simply deeper and therefore more versatile. Jamal Crawford plays starter level minutes, and is usually the first man off the bench. Zaza Pachulia has held steady as the man who spells Al Horford if he needs a breather or is in foul trouble. Enter the veteran Joe Smith, who gives the team a legit backup power forward, and keeps Pachulia from having to pull double duty. Mo Evans has is playing 9 minutes less per game than last year, yet he is currently enjoying a career high in field goal percentage, three point percentage, and has seen his scoring average only go down by 1.7 ppg. The rookie Jeff Teague has proven himself capable of handling minutes at point guard during any stretch of the game that he’s put in, not just garbage time. While he is still learning to pick his shots, score against the highest level of competition, and defend well, the young fellow seems to have no confidence issues and handles the ball well (assist to turnover ratio is 2.1 to 0.6). Whether or not Teague is the future for the Hawks at point guard is arguably irrelevant at the moment. What he does for the Hawks off the bench is everything right now.

 

Defense

As with the offense, let’s start with the hard stats. The Hawks are giving up 96.95 points per game, and are allowing 45.6% field goal shooting, 37% three point shooting, and 20.45 assists per game. As discussed before, opponents are only outperforming the Hawks in three point shooting. In fact, that has been the main problem with opponents, and an explanation for many of the losses or close games. Why the Hawks have trouble defending the three pointer may be attributed more to the style of defense they play than anything else, but we’ll get to that in a bit.

In the meantime, let’s look at more hard stats. The Hawks are outrebounding opponents 42.95 to 40.68, a difference of +2.27. Not wonderful, but better than if it was vice versa, and certainly considering  the size of the front line.  Atlanta also gathers more blocks (6.0 to 4.72) and steals (7.22 to 6.13) than their opponents. While there are defensive breakdowns from time to time, and from game to game, the Hawks have held steady enough so far to be ranked sixth in the NBA in total defense, according to stats provided on NBA.com.

As usual, Coach Woodson is the most controversial name in the conversation. Woodson is known as a defensive coach, but his team doesn’t always reflect that philosophy. Does the switching defense that he brought over from Detroit really work for the Hawks, or is it their achilles heel? Hard to say from one moment to the next. The Hawks have gone from using and executing it to perfection against some teams, to having clear disadvantages against other teams. Most important will be how to execute the defensive philosophy against the better teams. Adding to the confusion is the fact that inferior teams with good three point shooting remain a problem for the Hawks, let alone good teams with the same capability. Does that explain beating Boston, Dallas, and Portland, but losing to New York, Detroit, and New Orleans? Not really, and the problem is not easy to track.

There was a time when the defense on this team was rather clearly defined. Joe Johnson was the most solid perimeter defender, and most capable of locking an opposing player down. Marvin Williams was possibly the second best perimeter defender, and was able to stay with some power forwards as well, due in most part to his length and lateral quickness. Meanwhile, Al Horford was the most fundamentally solid and capable defender in the post.

Through all of this, Josh Smith has gone from an inconsistent, fundamental-lacking gambler with frustrating potential,  to lynchpin of the Hawks defense and terror for the opposing team…in what seems like the space of a single offseason. Smith not only leads the league in blocks per game, he is also collecting 1.6 steals per game. More importantly, he is much more active on the boards than he was for long stretches last season, having learned the value of blocking out, and using his awesome leaping ability and a never-quit attitude on both ends of the floor. Smith’s defensive fundamentals have improved, and he is more consistent in looking to disrupt the defense, rather than just trying to make the big play.

On the flip side, the Hawks struggle on defense a little too often when Smith is out of the game for any significant amount of time. It’s never good to rely on one guy to erase your mistakes, and while he can seemingly cover baseline to baseline, how do you defend when you don’t have that element in the game? What can be done to fix this? That’s something the Hawks have to figure out as the season goes on, as teams WILL make you adjust, both on offense and on defense.

For now, the Hawks defense survives. What happens in the next 20 games, and the rest of the season?

Tonight’s Contest 

After all that yapping, leave us not forget that the Hawks face the NBA’s worst team this evening, the New Jersey Nets. Winners of just two games, the Nets find themselves behind even the lowly Timberwolves, who have problems of their own.

Matchups to Watch

You knew it was coming. Al Horford versus Brook Lopez. The “real” center versus the “undersized” one. Who comes out on top? The team first, hard-working Horford, who finds himself the third option on offense most days….or the equally hard-working Lopez, who finds himself the first or second option on his team? Lopez is averaging an excellent 19.5 points and 9.3 rebounds per game, but there is always something to be said for being a good player on a very bad team. All the same, what amounts to 20 and 10 cannot be ignored. Lopez will test Horford’s abilities and savvy (can you use that word when talking about 2nd and 3rd year guys?). Will Horford hold his own, or prove that size is still very much an issue for the Hawks? Let’s not forget the X-factor, Josh Smith. Look for him to help out on Lopez, particularly if Lopez starts off hot.

Devin Harris is tough for most guys to guard, but he has struggled some this season. Harris injured his forefinger a couple of days ago, and may not play in this game. As it is, he’s already missed several games this season. If he plays, he is likely to be trouble, what with his quickness and ability to score from the outside as well. If not, then it’s a moot point.

The Darkhorse

Chris Douglas-Roberts. The kid has a bit of an unorthodox game, but he is taking advantage of the opportunity to play. Nearly tied for second on the team in scoring with Devin Harris, Roberts is also somewhat decent on the boards, and picks up a few assists and steals. The reason Douglas-Roberts is my darkhorse pick? He’s another young guy flying under the radar, who may hurt you if you don’t keep an eye on him.

So what happens this evening? Will the Hawks make it a beatdown, or will the game be close? Could it be a trap game, or are the Hawks just too good for that by now? Will Horford vs Lopez matter as much in the grand scheme of things, or just be a byline in the overall story?

80 comments Add your comment

niremetal

December 13th, 2009
12:55 pm

Mario is looking not-bad even in statistical terms in the D-League:
http://www.nba.com/dleague/playerfile/gamelogs.jsp?player=mario_west

niremetal

December 13th, 2009
1:05 pm

Crawford isn’t just the best sixth man the Hawks have had in years. He also has the ability on any and every night to come close to, match, or exceed Joe Johnson’s scoring output, whichever is needed.

Sadly, he has the ability on any and every night to come close to, match, or exceed JJ in another respect – the ability to get colder than a penguin’s feet and keep shooting anyway. Fortunately, Woody has been smart about yanking him relatively quickly on those nights where he is cold. But I’m worried what happens later in the year if JJ is cold more often and Woody asks Jamal to be the #1 offensive option on some nights…clearly, Jamal doesn’t have a good track record when he’s a team’s #1 offensive option.

As for tonight, this trap games are always scary. And you have Douglas-Roberts pegged. He is a guy who isn’t a huge threat unless you underestimate him – but who can put up 20 if you do underestimate him.

Horford vs. Lopez will indeed be fun to watch.

G-Money

December 13th, 2009
3:17 pm

The team is gradually maturing, however everyone needs to be on the same page with the coaching staff. It will be encouraging watching this team continue to evolve.

jlewis

December 13th, 2009
3:39 pm

Nire, finally someone sees the real Jamal Crawford and why he has been run off 3 other teams. He is good for this team, but he is not and shouldnt be a number one option, just dont be too enamored. Having Jamal on the floor with JJ scares me, because Jamal has never made any other player better and he doesnt take away a double team, he’s been in the league a long time, teams know how to play him.

KevinA

December 13th, 2009
4:24 pm

niremetal

Fortunately, Woody has been smart about yanking him relatively quickly on those nights where he is cold.

Woody has also yanked Bibby and Teague for the same thing. Has not recieved the credit for that to much. He does not have faith in the team to do the same with JJ.

I tend to agree with you about Jamal to a point. Jamal still needs a Bibby/Teague/JJ with him to be most effictive. I see Jamal as a very good offensive weapon, not a pg or team leader.

doc

December 13th, 2009
4:54 pm

my boy rick needs to get some cred as well there big ray for bringing this team together at a reasonable price. funny the ones criticizing him for not signing woody now are overlooking what he brought in the off season.

niremetal

December 13th, 2009
5:14 pm

Ok, if there’s one game in which the switching defense is dumb to try, this is it…

Big Ray

December 13th, 2009
5:55 pm

Wow. So Jamal doesn’t take away double teams and we should be worried that he might do what Joe does. Well, if nothing else, we’re paying him several million less to do that.

If teams know how to play Jamal, then they know how to play Joe (or are all those double teams just coincidences?). I guess the idea of having them both on the floor together at times is what has helped us keep from going 22-0. Heh….

Hey, I’m happy with this arrangement. And with the weapons we have, Woody has the option of going to other guys for offensive output. Will he? Don’t know the answer to that one. I guess we’ll have to wait for it to happen.

In the meantime, Jamal and Jeff are contributing well off the bench, and Mo Evans is looking good. Joe has 6 or more assists already, and though the game isn’t a blowout yet, it can happen at any moment. As long as we’re on the right side of it. :)

vava74

December 13th, 2009
6:48 pm

Faaaaast hands!

doc

December 13th, 2009
6:51 pm

b lopez -25 and counting for the night. yup he is dangerous as so many feared.

dont think this team is going to allow many more teams to sneak up on it nor fall for trap games. this should boost our stat for score dif a little more and out us in atie for the lead in our division or close to it since we were one half game behind at the start. top five in the nba and rising is what i think right now.

Big Ray

December 13th, 2009
7:04 pm

Teague looking pretty decent out there.

Mo Evans looking dang good.

Joe wth a PILE of assists!!

vava74

December 13th, 2009
7:19 pm

doc, before Al left the game he had the same numbers as Lopez.

Lopez’s defense is still very raw and he is a bit slow footed. No quite as slow defensively as Bogut but close. Fortunately for him he has more hop on his legs

Ed

December 13th, 2009
7:30 pm

Hopefully this type of playing rotation keeps up even when the games are closer. The Hawks are a much better team when they do and has Mo looked really good lately or what.

vava74

December 13th, 2009
7:35 pm

where’s everybody? why don’t people show up when we win big (even if against a struggling team)?

is complaining the only thing people like to do when they blog??

Melvin

December 13th, 2009
7:56 pm

vava74,

hopefully they went to the game…. the crowd didn’t look too bad from my living room…

vava74

December 13th, 2009
8:02 pm

Naaahhhh… some went to the game (Rod says that he usually goes, Daniel seems to be also a frequent flier, a few guys from the Hawks’ Nest also go…) but I really believe that when we play well people don’t feel the need to say anything positive…

vava74

December 13th, 2009
8:03 pm

By the way, Rod must be overflowing with satisfaction in light of Mo’s play in Marvin’s spot… :-)

sleepy

December 13th, 2009
8:19 pm

Jlewis – what teams did jamal get run off from ? No proof of that youre just tossing crap against the wall and hoping it sticks .

The real jamal Crawford ? so what we are seeing isnt real ? There are a ton of player in the nba that shouldnt be #1 option to be honest there are maybe 5 bonafide #1 options in the nba . Everyone else are players not quite that good forced to do more than they are able .

Teams knows how to play him ? how is that exactly ? Do you watch the games at all ? well watch what happens when Crawford runs a screen and roll from anywhere on the floor …is that not a double team Is that not a double team ?

You and Nire are a trip with this nonsense

Nire what games has Crawford shown he will be off and just keep on shooting like JJ ?

Crawford averages 13 shots per game is shooting 46% he has taken MORE than 16 shots in a game only ONCE so far this year. The past few years he has been taking 17-18 shots epr game so his shots have went down and his fg% has went up and he has shown that he can be just as productive as JJ so what are you talking about ?

http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/gamelog?playerId=165

If he asks Crawford to be the #1 option ? Where will JJ be ? Crawford scores half the time without even trying as the ball seems to find him and why would he be asked to be something everyone already knows hes is anyway when JJ is not in the game ? hes doing what you are so afriaid of right now everytime JJ is off the floor and is doing a pretty good job of it as well.

bigdave

December 13th, 2009
8:24 pm

as Stinger said tonight, “Joe makes everyone’s life easy”…

KevinA

December 13th, 2009
8:31 pm

bigdave

December 13th, 2009
8:24 pm
as Stinger said tonight, “Joe makes everyone’s life easy”…

Hawks 11-1 with JJ having 5 or more assists. the laker game game being the one loss.

When JJ has 4 or less assists the Hawks are 5-5.

KevinA

December 13th, 2009
8:34 pm

I have heard box score numbers don’t mean anything. Could they at least suggest a trend? Tonight we had 32 assists. When we have over 22 we are undefeated.

niremetal

December 13th, 2009
9:06 pm

Box score numbers don’t mean much on an individual basis, KevinA. It’s a different matter when you’re talking about team statistics. For instance, only one guy can credited for an assist in basketball (unlike in hockey), and only one person can get credited for a turnover, and only one person gets for a rebound that’s tipped multiple times. Sometimes, the person “most deserving” of the stat doesn’t get it on an individual basis. But in each of those cases, the stat does have a meaning for the team, even if the person who got credit for the individual stat doesn’t entirely “deserve” it.

So yeah – the box score stats definitely DO have a meaning on a teamwide basis, although they obviously don’t tell the whole story.

niremetal

December 13th, 2009
9:10 pm

Sleepy,

Going into this year, Crawford consistently averaged fewer points on a lower percentage shooting and with a worse assist-to-turnover ratio while playing for worse teams. Now that Crawford is coming off the bench and is being used as the #2 scoring option, he’s doing better.

Now stop hiding behind your temp handle and use your usual one.

KevinA

December 13th, 2009
9:13 pm

Ray,

Forgot to mention, great post. You explain the questions and the facts of our team. Some have a problem with that, I do not. The best team in the history of the world had weakness.

I like the fact were smashing a few teams and the weakness of our team seems more distant. I think it is ok we give Woody and the players some credit with a worried eye on the Orlando, Clev, Boston, and Laker teams.

Our biggest concern is getting better because all the wins in the world will be erased come play off time.

We have to consider a couple of factors. Have we been lucky with injury? After talking stuff in preseason how many players have under performed so far. Does Marvin = 1? And he is doing better. We really have had no adversity. Woody has really gotten a free ride but that is not his fault.

In our losses our stars stunk it up being selfish with no ball movement. But since then they have performed great. Humans are not perfect and we are on a roll. Will we revert to bad habits? – I would guess so. At the same time I think it will happen less often. Life is good for Woody and the players.To be honest I think even Woody is surprised.

With every good game from the bench his trust grows – our improvement is bigger than Woody or any one or two players. I would bet they are surprised.

Big Ray

December 13th, 2009
10:12 pm

Don’t know who “Sleepy” is supposed to be, but I know he’s not any one of us who have posted here today. I looked. Whatever the deal is, he (or she) raised an interesting counter argument to some of what has been said about Crawford earlier.

I don’t think anybody is asking Crawford to be the number one option on this team, or he would be starting, at the very least. Yet, if JJ is out for whatever reason, for any length of time, shouldn’t we feel better about who steps into his place compared to what we’ve had to replace him in the past? Shouldn’t we feel better about having a second very potent scorer in the lineup, a guy who is KNOWN to put up big points?

Or are we going to dump on the guy (and his past) while lauding JJ as the number one option (as if that were being threatened, or as if everybody didn’t already know it)?

I seem to recall that JJ himself, while a good #1 scoring option, was constantly drawing double teams, and there was such an outcry about him needing help. Yes, he’s a better player than Crawford. But he needs help, and so does this team. Crawford clearly provides that.

Bottom line, Crawford has blended into this team seamlessly, accepted a bench role when he has been a starter his entire career, and is helping this team win. I suppose that just doesn’t count for much with some people.

Sorry, but Sund’s acquisition is a success. Consider me enamored…..

niremetal

December 13th, 2009
10:16 pm

Uh…I’m happy we have him, Ray. I just get tired of hearing from the relatively small cadre of people who say Crawford is as good or better than JJ. Kind of a big leap from that to criticizing him as a player, isn’t it?

Big Ray

December 13th, 2009
10:18 pm

KevinA ,

Thanks! I agree that apparently the trust is growing with Woodson. The real test is always true adversity, but while the proof is in that pudding, I’m not exactly wishing for adversity. We’ve had our share in the past. No sense in borrowing trouble. It comes freely enough on its own. :)

Perhaps these guys are surprised at their own performance. The younger guys probably are. As you say, it’s all good as long as they can keep it going, and we have to find a way to translate this into a better post season performance. However, they play the regular season for a reason…..

Nire ,

I’m almost afraid to ask this, but how does one reliably determine who deserves credit for a stat? Of course, I realize this is an opinion based question and answer, but I’m still somewhat morbidly cruious.

niremetal

December 13th, 2009
10:20 pm

And in case you were gonna counter that he never said anything like that…

he has shown that he can be just as productive as JJ

hes doing what you are so afriaid of right now everytime JJ is off the floor and is doing a pretty good job of it as well.

There’s this group of people on this blog and (more prevalently) on Hawksquawk who are convinced that JJ somehow feels threatened by Crawford (funny, since JJ keeps passing it to him) or that Crawford is as good as JJ. It’s getting old.

That’s what I’m disagreeing with. I’m not disagreeing that Crawford is a solid player who should be #1 on everyone’s list for Sixth Man award right now.

Big Ray

December 13th, 2009
10:26 pm

Nire ,

” Kind of a big leap from that to criticizing him as a player, isn’t it?”

Depends on your point of view. I say that both are examples of opinions, and nothing more, or less. So in that vein, there is practically no leap at all. I mean, you’re tired of people saying Jamal is as good or better than JJ (how dare they, dang it). Apparently somebody else was tired of hearing people criticize Crawford. What I see is two different people tired of hearing opinions that they don’t agree with. Good thing this ain’t politics…. :)

When it comes to scoring, I’d say it’s pretty close. Their styles are different, which muddies the waters a bit. Joe is slower and more deliberate. Jamal is faster and more dynamic. Remember that top 50 list of players currently in the NBA? Well, Joe is fairly high on that list. Where was Crawford? ;)

Opinions. Everybody’s got ‘em. It’s all good.

niremetal

December 13th, 2009
10:30 pm

Ray,

I’m almost afraid to ask this, but how does one reliably determine who deserves credit for a stat?

That’s my point EXACTLY. You can’t reliably determine that. Therefore, the individual stats are useless. But just as a simple example, if a player drops a perfect pass, the passing player is given the turnover (because the rule is that a turnover is “credited” to the last person on the team who had control of the ball) even though the receiving player was more at fault. Of course, there is a massive gray area with regard to who is “most at fault” in those kinds of plays, but the tyranny of the box score demands that 1 and only 1 player (the passer) be credited with the turnover.

Similarly, say a player tips a ball to keep a rebound out of an opposing player’s hands; his teammate then catches the ball around the three point line, having never made a move toward the ball (this is how it seems Bibby and JJ gets about half their rebounds). The player who catches it receives credit for the rebound, although the fact that the ball ended up in his hands may well have been entirely a matter of luck.

Then there are similar arguments about assists that are the result of multiple passes and good ball movement, steals that are the result of harassing defense of another player, etc. I could go on and on. The whole point of all this is that individual stats don’t tell you much. The fact that a TEAM got a turnover, assist, rebound, or steal DOES tell you something, though.

doc

December 13th, 2009
10:31 pm

nire you missed the sarcasm … his plus minus was -25 while he was on the court at that time. not a huge difference maker, no?

team growing with crawford doing everything i expected him to do or be. said it before the media at 790 that he was “flip on roids”. i laughed when i heard the 4 o’clock football guys try to wake up to the hawks and their potential after about ten games as crawford helped drive the nail into some tough teams at the end of games.

like it when jj plays the distributor. he should have 8 to 10n assists regularly with crawford on the court.

cant wait to see the new improved nba teague in person. good game for the youngin. maybe ready for nire’s/daniel’s moniker, jt0.

niremetal

December 13th, 2009
10:31 pm

PS – “Useless” is obviously hyperbole. But I actually do think that in a substantial number of cases, looking at a stat sheet actually confuses the important things that happen on the court more than it clarifies them.

Big Ray

December 13th, 2009
10:37 pm

To be honest Nire , I wasn’t looking to counter anything. I wasn’t defending Jlewis and yourself, or sleepy. I was, however, wondering where this sudden problem with Crawford was sprouting from, as prior to yours and Jlewis’ comments, there was nobody on this blog saying that Crawford was as good or better than JJ. Maybe I should re-read the blog, I’ve been wrong before (blew up a calculator trying to count how many times that’s happened).

The only thing I’m truly aware of is that I presented the positive side of Crawford’s effect on this team. You countered with a more negative view, which was championed by Jlewis, who stated that you had revealed or recalled the “real Jamal Crawford.” I asked who this real Jamal Crawford was, and how was he hurting us?

After that, Sleepy came in and made his statements, which I thought were quite interesting. By the way “interesting” doesn’t = “agreement”, in case you were wondering.

Anyway, I’m sure all opinions get old to people who don’t agree with them. Without exception.

Big Ray

December 13th, 2009
10:42 pm

LOL. Good catch on the hyperbole Nire . I could imagine what would have happened had you left that for say, the next 12-24 hours. I think you imagined it as well… :)

I don’t really worry about the hair-splitting details like who deserves which stat, and for what reason. Talk about finding things to argue about. Is there any other use, if you aren’t getting paid to do it? Remind me to NEVER make that a blog topic. :lol:

Big Ray

December 13th, 2009
10:43 pm

Night, my peeps. Gotta be up at O’Dark Thirty for a wonderful monday morning in my real profession. See ya on the flip side!

bigdave

December 13th, 2009
10:44 pm

KevinA…

that speaks volumes… or does it suggest that on those nights were he doesnt have 5 teammates missed shots?

either way, i ve liked Joe’s had a nice rhythm to his game since the Raptors home game after poor outings (particularly shooting) of a stretch of like 3-4gms:

bigdave

December 2nd, 2009
7:37 pm

like Joe’s approach tonight… not forcing… sharing the ball, feeding the hot hand/open man… and then picking his spots…

KevinA

December 13th, 2009
10:56 pm

We can talk trends – visual or box score but the Hawks are on the up swing . Hard to pick a player or coach that is not involved. What are we worse at. 3 pt shots? I was on that one early but last three game – how can I argue.

Alien in ATL

December 13th, 2009
10:59 pm

Big Ray,

On a previous blog, in reply to one of my comments to your statement, you accused me of backstabbing.

I already mentioned earlier that I only occasionally agree with most of your statements, but from time to time, I do.
Excuse me for not agreeing with that particular statement (about the coach being more concerned about his contract), but I don’t think I did any backstabbing there!!
You don’t agree with most of what Woodson decides, and that is your good right. Yes, you give some credit to the team, but you rarely credit the coach for it. You always find a way to accredit the success to individual team members, but rarely to the coach.
So is it me backstabbing or is it you trying to cover up a hate campaign against coach Woodson? I don’t see how you can accuse someone of backstabbing only because one doesn’t agree with one (or more) of your statements? Unless you are just the same as some of those other bloggers that think anyone disagreeing with their view is either stupid or less ignorant than a newborn.
Yes, I think the Hawks are having a great season, and yes, I do attribute a lot of their success to their coaching staff! So yes, I think he is doing one heck of a job, bringing a team from the cellar of the NBA to a top contender for many years to come. But that is my opinion. I won’t call you names or a backstabber if you disagree with that. So I would appreciate it not calling someone names only because they comment/disagree to a statement you made.

Alien in ATL

December 13th, 2009
11:01 pm

** that I usually don’t agree with most of your statements, ….
(sorry – should have proof-read before submitting)

Big Ray

December 14th, 2009
7:07 am

Alien in ATL ,

I made a comment about Woody caring more about a new contract than a plaque that says “Coach of the Year.” I’m not sure why exactly you took issue with what I had to say, but here, my friend, was YOUR reply on Ken Sugiura’s blog, December 11th, 11:59 p.m. Please note the section highlighted in bold:

Big Ray.
Your 10:10 PM comment:
I love 16-6, but it’s too early for me to give the man that plaque. Besides, I think he wants a contract more …

So the man has to coach like you bloggers think he should coach and not think of his future? Is that the way you act in your job? Your comment makes no sense at all, unless you want to keep your backstabbing plan ready for the next game the Hawks will loose. Give it up and recognize a coach doing a good job., using his team as he knows them best and giving some players enough time to gain confidence in games they fit at moments they fit. I am waiting on all your comments the first time he plays Teague 20+ minutes and the Hawks loose the game!

Alrighty then. So, you accuse me of planning to backstab Mike Woodson. I truly think you misunderstood my comments completely, given your vehement disagreement, your accusation, your referencing my behavior in my job, etc. How very strange that “backstabbing” came out of your mouth first. How very strange that you describe this as “disagreement,” then come in here all innocence, proclaiming the horrors of my attack on you (history shows you came after ME, not me after YOU), etc.

And, to complete matters, here is MY reply, minus a previous quote that I should not have to repeat again:

Alien in ATL ,

Maybe if you knew what I was talking about, my comment would make more sense. I gave Woody plenty of credit for the team’s record in my previous post, which I had cut and pasted. The only thing I said is that I didn’t endorse giving the man Coach of the Year award (hence the reference to the plaque) for being 16-6. They don’t give out awards for the season when you’re only 22 games into it. MVP, DPOY, COY, MIP, and such awards are given at the end . Furthermore, I stated that Woody is most likely far more interested in a contract extension than he is in winning Coach of the Year.

That was an endorsement of Woody, not an indictment .

NOW you know. Your back-stabbing comment is off base. But keep your knife. I’m sure you’ll want to try and use it again.

Oh yes, I did reference a knife. Why? Because you essentially called me a backstabber. Then you turn around and say that you wouldn’t do such a thing. Right..

Explain to me how that is a hate campaign? Pick out a single blog that I’ve written where I’ve endorsed or asked for Woodson to be fired. Find one where I’m condemning him. Either you haven’t read much of what I’ve written, or you’ve studiously avoided each and every positive thing I’ve said about the man. Have you even read the above blog article?

I think your main issue is that I don’t give Woody as much credit as you think I should, or as effusively as you do. I don’t have a problem with that. We all agree and disagree on different issues. I really don’t think that you understand my view on Woodson. If you read the above blog article, you’ll see that I asked questions about how much credit he should get for the team’s success. The purpose of a question is to elicit a response from you, my fellow Hawks fans. NOT to turn up the heat on the subject of discussion. But I guess in the minds of some, if I’m not giving total, unabashed adoration, then I must be “hating”. Sigh …some things will just never change…

It does not bother me that you don’t agree with much that I say. The only thing that bothers me is misrepresentation and untruth. I never called you a name, not even once. I took what you originally accused me of, and suggested that you were inacting (unfairly and inaccurately at that) your own accusation upon me, which you were.

Now, are we going to act like normal people and agree/disagree on various subjects while talking Hawks basketball? I’d like to. This other contradictory drama nonsense is better left to high schoolers.

If you wish to know my true view on the coach and the team, we can discuss it. If you don’t like anything I have to say, then you of course have the right to disagree or simply scroll past anything I write. No skin off my back or yours, but you might want to leave “backstabbing” out of the conversation next time, yes? Especially if it comes out of your mouth first… :)

Big Ray

December 14th, 2009
7:11 am

And don’t worry about proof-reading…we all make mistakes. ;)

I misspelled “inacting”, should have been “enacting”…

Daniel

December 14th, 2009
8:49 am

Big Ray- very good quarterly report. I think you hit all the issues. Make sure you same that blog, definitely one of your best.

I know you did not put your points in any order, but I will say that Josh’s improvement, which is deceptive if you aren’t watching all the games, is astronomical. His dedication to defense, rebounding and driving the basket is the MOST important improvement on this team. It allows for Al’s improvement, gives Joe and Jamaal the space on the floor to work and erases some defensive lapses.

One point you left out, Joe Johnson’s improved play. Yes, I said it. His improvements are somewhat subtle like Josh’s (not reflected in stats). He is sharing the ball well (despite what some people think). He has clearly become comfortable with Crawford, and most importantly he has provided more leadership on and off the court than in years past.

Daniel

December 14th, 2009
8:49 am

uhhh… I meant “save this blog”…. lordy, I can’t type today.

niremetal

December 14th, 2009
9:18 am

Daniel,

The thing that’s impressed me most about JJ this year is that he’s getting after it more on the boards. The stats only show a slight uptick, but he’s “there” for rebounds way more than he was in the past. That’s not necessarily something that’s important for a guard to do in general, but it definitely helps if you want to run.

And he had a few games where he went into ISO mode (and, of course, Woody did nothing to stop him), but he seems to have settled into his own skin on that front too – the only game this month where he went ISO a lot was against Dallas. And in that game, no one else was getting the ball in the hole, if memory serves. He hasn’t raised him game as much as Josh has (although, as always, the stats don’t reflect the major improvements by Josh), but he has raised it.

The biggest difference between last year and this, of course, is Crawford over Flip. I initially didn’t like the Crawford move because I had the image of him as the Knicks’ resident chucker etched in my mind. But after Ray talked me down from the ledge, I said “Crawford has indicated that he is happy to come off the bench. And if he can be SuperFlip, I think we might have the 6th Man of the Year on our bench. That alone provides us with a big upgrade.” So far, so very good…

doc

December 14th, 2009
9:33 am

rnire, he better be “there” more because he is playing the three spot maybe 10 to 15 minutes a game regularly, not like last year. if he wants to he can become a point forward in a second like he did yesterday. if he doesnt go “there” then we are left with only two under the boards when we go to the lineup that includes him, jamal and bibby/teague. point forward may be his best position.

niremetal

December 14th, 2009
9:53 am

I thought this pretty much sums up the development of my views on the Crawford trade:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iBSF0Gi7oM0

doc

December 14th, 2009
9:57 am

Nire, btw, yesterday though against an inferior foe we saw what jj can do in totality. i cant emphasize how his sharing the ball and getting it to folks where they want it will make it easier for everyone him included. wasnt arguing just placing an emphasis on what he has to do for this team to do well. since the team is doing well and he is the leader, then he gets cred and rightly so. he has gone from the only professional ballplayer on the court to a main cog in a championship team.

niremetal

December 14th, 2009
10:05 am

I agree, doc. Now if only we had an offensive system with ball movement and off-ball screens built in instead of relying on the players on the floor to create it :twisted:

doc

December 14th, 2009
10:20 am

nire, you the man there. i would love to see the ball movement we see from the celts for example. ;-)

Hawkster

December 14th, 2009
10:22 am

Is there a place here on the AJC where one can vote for the all-stars? If not, why not?