How to right the ship?

Thirteen games left in the month of January, and only two of them look anywhere near winnable, given the way the Hawks are playing now.

Intensity. Effort. A modicum of execution. Did they leave it all in Cleveland? What has happened to the Hawks? Okay, so I get it, it’s only four game losing streak. There are worse things. But if you’re a Hawk fan, you know what those worse things are, and you fear that they may be coming. In the distance, in between the deep, nerve-bending knell of a fateful bell, you hear the voice of some ancient and mythical Greek or Roman soothsayer wailing,  ”Beware the Ides of”…..January? Just what is going on here?

Make no mistake about it, things only get tougher from here on out. So how to stop this shipwreck before it really happens? Well, a win against Eastern Conference doormat New Jersey wouldn’t hurt a bit. It’s a start, but it’s not nearly enough. In fact, it’s probably not even a tuneup for what comes next. Boston. Then Orlando. Then Boston again. The Hawks match up fairly well with Boston, but the Celts are playing good enough to be at the top of the Eastern heap. And Orland always seems to have our number. In double digits, that is. So how to right the ship?

Backcourt Blues, Part II

Right now, Mike Bibby is playing as well or better than anybody else in the backcourt. That is to say, they are ALL struggling, most in more ways than one. Jamal is struggling, Joe is struggling, Mo doesn’t get much PT, and Teague is probably trading text messages with Acie Law, because he just can’t be learning much about the NBA game right now. Jamal seems to attack the best, Bibby handles and runs the offense the best, and Joe gets the most points. The problem is that Bibby is back to getting exposed on defense, Jamal is back to streak shooting, and Joe is back to having to take way too many shots to get his points. Really, none of them is playing solid, consistent defense. And like it or not…in the game of basketball, the defense starts on the perimeter. What to do? How do the Hawks get their guards back in the groove?

The Disease Is Spreading

Against New York, our frontcourt showed up big (well, except the local walking missing persons report known as “Marvin”). Now before we get all down on Marvin, let’s try and look at the situation from all sides (ha….we know better). Marvin is the fifth option on offense, and it would seem that most people, Woodson included, want to see him assume a role in which he contributes through defense and rebounding, along with the occasional bucket here and there. This SEEMS to sit well with Marvin, only he’s not filling that role consistently. Against Cleveland, Marvin showed up, giving Lebron James a run for his money in the first game. In the second game, well, we all know what happened there. Lebron is not a guy you can do that to, two games in a row. Against New York? Poof! Like it never happened. On the other hand, what about the nights that the Hawks are struggling badly on offense, and Marvin’s few shot attempts are rining true? What’s wrong with riding a different horse for a little while, you might actually compete in the race! Sometimes all it takes is a change of pace to rejuvenate things. Nobody said Marvin has to get the ball all night and score 30 points. Is it out of the realm of possibility that he score 10 or 15 and open things up for his teammates?

Al Horford is few things if not consistent and reliable. I like to call him “Mr. double double or dang close to it.” That’s what he does, normally. He makes good decisions with the ball, he fights for rebounds, he defends. The same could be said of Josh Smith,  when he’s got his head in the game (something that has happend a lot more often than not this year), only he is more dynamic than he is reliable. But the backcourt disease is a spreading virus. 

The complaint you hear all the time is how Josh and Al are not dominant post players. True, but they can score, and have shown the ability to do so. So what do you do when you have good-but-not-dominating post scorers? You get them involved early, and let the offense flow from the inside, out. When those guys can’t get into rhythm, it’s often realized too late. By then, what good does it do to try and get your low post guys involved? Or conversely, the frontcourt has gotten into a rhythm, only to be forsaken for the backcourt, who is ice cold. Either way, it destroys leads and wins. How do the Hawks keep finding themselves in these same predicaments, game after game? The disturbing thing is that it is present in both wins and losses, in good games and bad. What’s most consistent about the Hawks? Their method of failure.

The Solution

Do I have one? Heh, not likely. But somebody has to come up with one. The team has to come up with one. The team leaders, to be more specific. Some say that the team lacks leadership. The coaching staff has to come up with one. The head coach to be more specific. Some say the head coach is part of the problem, and emminently incapable of providing the solution. Well, the buck stops somewhere, and that somewhere is the General Manager. Identifying the problem doesn’t seem to be an issue. Just ask Mike Woodson, he can tell you what’s wrong after every single game. Just ask team captain Joe Johnson, he seems to always have that answer as well. Or anybody else you can stick a microphone in front of, though the aforementioned individuals tend to be the most…..candid, if I may….about it.

But the Hawks don’t need to be worried, interested, or consumed with what’s wrong. They need to be consumed with how to fix it. Fail to do it as a player, and it assuredly falls to the coach. Fail to do it as a coach, and it will assuredly fall to the general manager. That’s where the rubber will finally meet the road. We tell ourselves one more time, it’s just a 4 game losing streak. We hope that it doesn’t get worse, but never has the potential been better for that to happen, then now. And just think, we aren’t even experiencing any injuries! So how to right the ship before it wrecks? How to avoid that approaching iceberg (they, like trees and telephone poles, apparently have the ability to move into your path)? How to avoid what is merely hypothetical now, become reality later?

104 comments Add your comment

Kiki

January 5th, 2010
4:34 pm

O’brien: that paragraph you extracted from the daily dime says it all!! and it also mention the solution:

“Until the Hawks demonstrate the ability to create high-percentage shots through a diverse half-court offensive attack, the game plan for stifling them won’t change. That it took more than a quarter of the season for that game plan to become consistently effective speaks to the team’s potential”.

I hope JJ and Woodson read this article, although JJ may think: this is MY CONTRACT YEAR, so, i going to keep ballhoguing to raise MY STOCKS on the free market. And Woodson? more of the same.

SOLID

January 5th, 2010
5:24 pm

FIRE mike woodson!!!
fire mike woodson
why has he not used teague against a number of these quicker guards we have played lately????
fire woodson, he does not know how to get optimum effort/play out the team
FIRE WOODSON !!!

jerrywest

January 5th, 2010
6:59 pm

Perhaps I should have retained my skepticism a few weeks longer. When the Hawks got off to such a blistering start this season, I tried to curb my enthusiasm. They weren’t supposed to be this good and would probably regress to the mean, I thought, especially since they lacked a superstar performer and had yet to have a major injury.

That thought process changed on Dec. 18, when I saw Atlanta dismantle Utah so thoroughly that the Jazz pulled their starters midway through the third quarter … with the Hawks leading by 27, after scoring 17 fast-break points in the first six minutes of the third quarter. While Atlanta had played well on other nights, that game was the first time this season when I really thought, “Wow, these guys are good.” Cosmetic scoring made the final (96-83) much more respectable, but anyone leaving Philips Arena that night had the distinct impression the Hawks had arrived as an elite team.

Since then, however, they’ve done everything in their power to reverse my opinion.

After the Utah game, the Hawks’ record was 19-6, with a strong point differential against a good schedule. At the time, they stood atop my Power Rankings, largely due to an unexpectedly potent offense that topped the league in offensive efficiency.

Atlanta has played eight games since then, and won only two of them — against Minnesota and Indiana. The last four games, all defeats, have proven particularly painful — Atlanta had consecutive second-half meltdowns against Cleveland, the latter coming with the aid of a clock malfunction, dropped a home game against a lesser New York team when Nate Robinson came out of cold storage to hang 41 on them, and suffered a one-sided rout by a Jermaine O’Neal-less Heat team in Miami on Monday night.

While the losing streak is unlikely to hit five — the Hawks’ next contest is at home against New Jersey on Wednesday — Atlanta is in danger of losing contact with the other Eastern powers in the playoff race. The defeats dropped the Hawks to 21-12, and with a Boston-Orlando-Boston stretch coming up over the weekend, they could easily be five games out of the third spot in the East by this time next week.

Although it’s possible one of the Cleveland losses could still end up in the win column — if the Hawks’ protest of the second Cleveland loss is upheld and the replay (likely April 2 in Cleveland) goes in their favor — the takeaway from the past eight games remains the same.

The common thread? Atlanta’s once-vaunted offense has hit a wall. Although the Hawks still rank second in the league in offensive efficiency (109.3), they haven’t been playing up to their usual level in the past eight games, with an efficiency mark of 105.8 — and only 101.9 if you subtract the two doormats (Minnesota and Indiana).

Subjectively, they’ve been worse than those numbers, because they’ve saved their worst for the times that matter most. A six-point overtime against Chicago. A nearly nine-minute drought in the fourth-quarter against Cleveland, followed by a 37-point second half the next night. A 19-point fourth quarter against a toothless Knicks defense. Monday night’s 75-point debacle in Miami was a rarity because it lasted all four quarters, but six of the past eight games have shown extended stretches when Atlanta’s offense went off the rails.

Look a little deeper, and there’s a surprising reason. The Hawks’ offense has benefited from an odd approach, as I mentioned a few weeks ago — they don’t shoot a particularly highly percentage, but they’re so good at rebounding and avoiding turnovers that they generate far more shot attempts per possession than most teams.

Lately, however, one of those planks has disintegrated: The Hawks stopped getting offensive rebounds. Atlanta’s offensive rebound rate in the past eight games is a measly 17.7 percent, barely half what they were averaging until that point. In two games against the Cavs, the Hawks grabbed only 12 offensive boards while Cleveland nabbed 87 defensive boards — with no second shots, perhaps the second-half offensive meltdowns were inevitable.

Even against lesser teams, it’s happened: Atlanta survived against lowly Indiana, for instance, while grabbing a measly three offensive boards. On other nights, against better teams — such as Monday, when they grabbed only seven of their 46 misses against Miami — they couldn’t slip by so easily.

Atlanta once stood third in the league in offensive rebound rate at 30.4 percent; thanks to the Hawks’ recent malaise, they’re a distant seventh at 28.1 percent. It’s unclear to me why the second shots vanished, and given the small sample of games there might not be any reason at all.

Nonetheless, it’s something they’ll have to remedy if they’re going to keep pace with the three top dogs in the East — a group they’ve already fallen dangerously behind.

With plenty of time left and a chance to quickly make up a few games this weekend, the Hawks can get back in the race for a top-two seed. But the lesson here is that the Hawks won’t rebound in the standings unless they rebound a few more of their own misses./[quote]

its been evident that there is no longer a commitment to rebounding. This happened early last year as well. It seems that this will be a problem as long as this team is together.

jerrywest

January 5th, 2010
7:00 pm

the above is from Hollinger’s espn insider

KevinA

January 5th, 2010
7:01 pm

Big Daddy

January 5th, 2010
5:00 am

When I saw a 60 minutes piece where the Tim Donaghy, the disgraced NBA Referee, was interview, he indicated that NBA Refs get irritated with some players constant griping and don’t give them calls but do give the fouls. He said they discuss it and their is a general feeling among them who the cry babies and gripers are. Now I am as big a Josh Smith fan as their is and the jersey I bought is a Josh Smith jersey, but somebody ought to play that segment of the interview for him before every game

I think the Refs reactions are real and normal. Josh needs to turn this attitude thing around.

MannyT

January 5th, 2010
7:11 pm

Hollinger has the stats as usual.

I guess this is one time that Woody’s old words work in his favor. He has often said that the team needs to rebound and play defense. If we are not rebounding, we cannot run (or get easy put backs on the offensive end.)

If you are going to shoot a low percentage, you have to get extra shots via steals or offensive rebounds.

Now the interesting question is what will Woody do to get them back on track. Like Hollinger, I am not giving any extra credit for NJ stats. Let’s see how this plays out starting on Friday. If we lose on Wednesday, hide the sharp objects in the locker room.

BWAF

MannyT

January 5th, 2010
7:13 pm

Astro,

I would not compare how guys get time here with other places. Who would have thought that Shelden would be more productive in Boston than here?

BWAF

steven A.

January 5th, 2010
7:49 pm

WOODY IS ALREADY DONE/HAWKS UNDERACHEIVE.
coach Woody will be gone by seasons end, HOWEVER, there must be some accountability on
the part of this General manager ” RICK SUND.” Stevie Wonder can see that this team needs some kind of
identity and toughness..ala a RON ARTEST type of player. even a 59 year old Bruce Bowen would
be an upgrade over MARVIN FREAKIN WILLIAMS. Make a TRADE..SHAKE UP THIS ROSTER.

Melvin

January 5th, 2010
10:06 pm

Bye, bye Othello Hunter. Now get me Stackhouse in here….

Astro Joe

January 5th, 2010
10:24 pm

Melvin, I’m guessing Mario West. And we don’t have enough basketballs to support a team with Joe, Jamal and Stack.

MannyT, let’s see what happens now that Big Baby is back from the Land of Stupidity. And Shelden could have played that same “Solo role” for us… he just was needed to obtain Bibby.

doc

January 5th, 2010
10:40 pm

stackhouse put on clinics during the summer and isnt going to choke under pressure. he also allows us someone as a defender, as well as someone who can come off the bench in case a player is going either soft or is off on a particular night. he can do it with d or o. never understood hunter being on the team instead of stackhouse at the outset of the season. would have given woody another weapon to go to. oh yeah, he only packs a six gun.

i dont understand sund’s comment about the waiver wirer. who is coming on that already isnt out there. or is it the time folks start dropping players. seems like someone is punching a button

O'Brien

January 5th, 2010
10:44 pm

So Hawks have a players only meeting, and Sund also waived Hunter. I wonder what is coming down the pipeline

niremetal

January 5th, 2010
11:27 pm

Hunter’s contract was about to become guaranteed for the rest of the season, which is why the cut happened now. It actually makes a great deal of sense because there always are other teams who do the same thing. And usually, there are a handful of good veterans who come out of that crowd. I guess we’ll see what happens in the next 2 weeks.

Melvin

January 5th, 2010
11:32 pm

AJ,
You can never have enough scorers. Defense is overrated. Stackhouse is clutch and brings a toughness on the perimeter which we dont have.

Doc,
Cosign the Stackhouse analysis…

Obrien,

Hopefully it will be the signing of Jerry Stackhouse. We need somebody that will drive the ball to the rim with NO REGARDS FOR HUMAN LIFE (as Kevin Harland would say)…

Melvin

January 5th, 2010
11:32 pm

Nire,

Wouldnt adding Stack at the vet min would be cheaper than keeping Hunter?

doc

January 5th, 2010
11:42 pm

is there a 13th man on some roster that woody is going to use in his 8 man rotation? i think not. nire good points but i dont think it is reality to think someone is going to fall from heaven that we can use, so a team can skip out on payments. no one on that short list will fit what woody wants or this team needs. by the letter of understanding the payroll rules, you got a point. reality is to say; “my boy rick, wtf, you mean by that one”.

O'Brien

January 6th, 2010
7:40 am

Even if we sign someone like Stackhouse, aren’t they going to be in a suit on the bench anyway?

And I agree with whoever (I think it was AJ) who was asking why hasnt Joe Smith received more PT? Even before the injury, I dont think we have been utilizing (consistently) what he brings to the table.

Fundamentals

January 6th, 2010
8:46 am

We haven’t used anything anyone brings to the bench consistenly except Crawford. Honestly, he’s overused at times. When he’s hot he’s hot, when he’s not he’s not. That’s how we managed to nab him so cheap. Don’t get me wrong I love the aquisition, but Woody has to feel out when to use him and sit him when he’s off.

Astro Joe

January 6th, 2010
8:59 am

Which is why I think Mario West makes the most sense… because he can be that guy who plays once every 5 games for the purposes of bothering JR Smith, Nate Robinson and anyone else who may be having a season/career high kind of game.

Fundamentals

January 6th, 2010
9:08 am

Anyone know why Mario’s knees are wrapped in the D-League. He’s producing, but seems to be slowed down for some reason. He doesn’t have the fire we usually see? He has effectively run the point for Maine. I’d be up for giving him a shot here.

O'Brien

January 6th, 2010
9:52 am

I like Mario’s energy, focus and defense, but I dont understand why 3 years in, he still has no jump shot. Even Chills could make the occasional jumper (especially if he was open), and Chills has a very ugly form on his shots.

AJ,

I like the Mario West signing too (even if we got Stackhouse, I dont see Woody or JJ doing anything different offensively). Even last season, I think Woody should have used West more. There were times when the offense was struggling, and I thought West would be able to provide a spark and some energy (dude goes 100 mph all the time), and good defense.

But my question is, as the 13th guy, wouldnt Mario be wearing street clothes on the bench? Or does the 13th guy get to suit up in case his “nimber” (’Nique’s word) is called?

Fundamentals

January 6th, 2010
10:15 am

13th man could be used if the coach watched match-ups and suited the appropriate guy up each night. Just like the swap for Joe Smith when Joe went down. It’s manageable if you want it to be. He’d also be available in practice. Guess that would change come playoff time, but that’s how I understand it.

Mario needs to gain confidence in the NBA to show his shot. He wasn’t the greatest, but he did well for GA Tech. Just because he doesn’t shoot all the time like other guards all the time doesn’t mean he can’t. At Tech he was a very selective shooter. In Maine he’s putting up some pretty good stat lines by driving the lane hard and looking for opportunistic jump shots. He’s doing well. I see him developing into a Bruce Bowen of sorts if someone really gave him a chance.

It’s obvious Mario is out there to nab. What else do we have as options?

Astro Joe

January 6th, 2010
10:26 am

Exactly, Fundamentals. Ideally, you choose between RandMo or Collins as your 11th activated player… for the sake of argument, let’s say RandMo. When we’re playing a big-time scoring center, you activate Collins as the 12 player, otherwise, I would go with Mario, since there are more scoring guards/wings than scoring low-post centers.

Can you imagine Stackhouse and Crawford on the floor together?

Big Ray

January 6th, 2010
10:29 am

Niremetal has the waiving of Othello Hunter nailed.

As to the player’s only meeting, it was due. Now what will come of it?

Big Ray

January 6th, 2010
10:32 am

Astro Joe ,

E-mail sent…

Astro Joe

January 6th, 2010
10:37 am

OB, wouldn’t it be great if some of our more talented players had Mario’s drive?

Fundamentals

January 6th, 2010
10:42 am

Been arguing for F-150’s heart to spread like a virus for 2 years.

niremetal

January 6th, 2010
12:29 pm

Doc,

It’s not a matter of choice. The team must have 13 players on its roster in two weeks. It’s the required minimum. So someone WILL get signed, and it’s just a question of who.

Maybe someone saw Mario actually putting points on the board in the D-League and decided he might be worth a roster spot after all, since we KNOW what he can do on D and when there’s a loose ball…

niremetal

January 6th, 2010
12:38 pm

Melvin,

No, Hunter would be cheaper by a few grand. The rule is that teams who sign a veteran to a minimum-salary contract get reimbursed by the amount that the minimum salary exceeds the minimum salary for a 2-year veteran. That basically means that everyone who has 2 or more years of NBA experience costs the same out of pocket. Othello has only been in the league 1 year, though, so his salary ($762k) is less than that of a 2-year or more vet ($854k) from the team’s perspective. But keep in mind that salaries are pro rata since any signings will be for only part of the season at this point. The actual difference in cost between a veteran and Othello would be just ~$45k for a player signed tomorrow and kept for the rest of the year. Of course, the difference for cap/tax purposes is much more, but the out-of-pocket difference isn’t that much.

niremetal

January 6th, 2010
12:43 pm

Give me Mario or give me death. This team needs a sparkplug (both in practice and in games) and a good perimeter defender to come in and harass the waterbug PGs that Bibby (too slow), Crawford (too lazy), and Teague (who apparently still hasn’t heard of the term “reach-in foul”) can’t.

It also would make my Mario swingman jersey much more relevant…

Astro Joe

January 6th, 2010
1:05 pm

nire, I agree. If we are not going to bring in a vet that may be bought out next month, let’s go with Mario for the remainder of the year.

Big Ray

January 6th, 2010
1:33 pm

Astro Joe ,

Sent you an e-mail….

Fundamentals

January 6th, 2010
1:58 pm

Mario deserves a look based on what he’s done for this team. He’s always given 100% – ALWAYS!

Ronald McDonald the Third

January 6th, 2010
2:41 pm

Here is the real problem: Mike Woodson is a bad coach with a talented team. How about getting rid of mike woodson and finding a Talented coach so that we can have a talented team and TALENTED COOAACCHH. Making that move will probably earn us an extra 10 wins this season. Otherwise will go about 45-37 and lose in the 2nd round once again…..On a side note: There will be ALL YOU CAN EAT FRENCH FRIES and BIG MAC’s at my house tonight folks !! Bon Appetit. !!

doc

January 6th, 2010
3:06 pm

nire i know it isnt a choice and that wasnt my point. it is more dont they have a plan other than to watch the waiver line?

Fundamentals

January 6th, 2010
3:20 pm

Contenders have added some awfully nice pieces by watching the wire over the past few years. I like the idea of it? Wouldn’t anyone new be an opportunity? Has Othello ever gotten a chance to do anything? Would he get a chance for the remainder? Maybe signing someone will force Woody & Sund to agree on someone he’s actually going to use.

I say we sign a bouncer who can kick people in the jimmy when they drop below 90% effort. He doesn’t even have to be a basketball player. We could text in who to kick during the game. Few swift kicks would provide motivation or send someone to the ice tank. Either way something’s going to give.

niremetal

January 6th, 2010
4:05 pm

Doc,

What other plan do you think they should have? There frankly isn’t anyone who is an unrestricted free agent that interests me in the slightest besides Antonio Daniels and Mario West (no, Jerry Stackhouse does not interest me in the slightest on a roster where we already have Crawford and Mo coming off the bench). If I had an open roster spot, I’d be scouring the waiver wire too, not leaping at the chance to grab someone off the current bottom-of-the-scrap heap.

Big Ray

January 6th, 2010
4:11 pm

Waiver wire is but one option. Trade is also possible. Trades don’t just happen around the deadline. If a trade develops and becomes feasible before then, a smart GM pulls the trigger. Do I have any ideas about who we might trade away or trade for? No. I’m just suggesting that something else besides a waiver wire scouring might happen. And Sund is not one to tip his hand. Did anybody see Claxton/Law for Crawford? Didn’t think so….

Big Ray

January 6th, 2010
4:29 pm

“Did anybody see Claxton/Law for Crawford coming

Fundamentals

January 6th, 2010
4:37 pm

I like the flexibility. Seems we’re keeping our options as open as possible. We can sign a 13th man anytime. Didn’t see Crawford coming. Definitely a happy day. I’m guessing several teams will drop some nice pieces by Feb. Buyout’s are just now starting.

Big Ray

January 6th, 2010
4:53 pm

Fundamentals ,

I agree. Flexibility is good.

tidog

January 6th, 2010
5:23 pm

Coach Woodson asked for veteran talent and veteran bigs for the bench. he only plays Jamal with any consistency. Smith and Collins are nailed to the bench with a bunch of DNP’s coaches decision. Cleavland doubles Joe whenever he touches the ball. Coach makes no adjustment. Miami learns from Cleavland, doubles Joe and coach still doesn’t adjust to situation. What gives? This guy is a bad game time coach. He’s either sitting with his chin in hand or standing looking confused. Get him out here.

vava74

January 6th, 2010
7:47 pm

JT0 was doing a pretty decent job staying in front of Devin… JJ was lifted for a +1…

JJ is a great defender but quick point guards are not within his comfort zone.

chuckw/deadjournalist

January 6th, 2010
8:25 pm

Not sure who the Hawks are assigned to in the D-League; but it’s been an unrealistic location the last few years. It would be nice if there was a team somewhere – like Nashville, Chattanooga, Birmingham, etc. – that two teams (Griz/Hawks maybe) could have access to.

Not that the Hawks have ever taken advantage of the D (remember when Donte Smith was optioned to the Arkansas RimRockers?) but having a team that isn’t close enough to actually use doesn’t make it any easier.

Big Ray

January 6th, 2010
8:37 pm

Playing a little sloppy now. Winning easily, though….

Big Ray

January 6th, 2010
8:44 pm

I have to say, Josh’s jumper doesn’t look bad when he gets a chance to set his feet. It’s still good for him not to resort to that shot very often, but it doesn’t look bad. He just has to get a clear look, and his feet set.

Hawks are back to sharing the ball (27 assists), and that makes all the difference. Not to mention decent efforts on defense and on the boards.

Melvin

January 6th, 2010
9:45 pm

You want to right this ship? Get rid of them Red uniforms. As much as I like the alternate uni, we can’t win in them… Heck, look what the Red uni’s done for the Nets. 3-32….

Astro Joe

January 6th, 2010
10:34 pm

Ray, I just returned your email (sorry, too busy instigating over on Ken’s blog today).

niremetal

January 6th, 2010
10:56 pm

Disclaimer: Josh takes jumpers a lot less than he used to (35% this year versus 47% last year, according to 82games), so this isn’t an issue. And I don’t see this as even in the top 3 player-specific issues the Hawks need to deal with. But lest Josh read Ray’s post and get some ideas… ;)

Sorry Ray, but Josh’s jumper pretty much always looks bad. It’s somewhere between Rashard Lewis’s and Marcus Camby’s in terms of the pronounced hitch. The 2 things that are mind-boggling about it are 1) he barely jumps at all when he takes it, so it makes zero use of his athleticism; and 2) it has one of the slowest releases I’ve ever seen. But that’s not what makes it “ugly.” It’s the hitch that does that.

More importantly, take a look at this shot chart from RealGM that was posted on Hawksquawk:
http://www.hawksquawk.net/community/index.php/topic/342421-josh-smith-shot-chart-via-realgm/

He’s shooting 17-78 from midrange (that’s not counting the 2 treys, both of which were end-of-quarter throwaways, if memory serves). That’s 22%. And most of those are uncontested.

Re-read your post, Ray. “It’s still good for him not to resort to that shot very often, but it doesn’t look bad. He just has to get a clear look, and his feet set.” Well now, you just know what I’m itching to say there :twisted: . First, if he needs a clear look and time to get his feet set, it’s not really an NBA-quality jumper. Second, the reason he’s getting clear looks and time to get his feet set are that teams know that a wide-open jumper by Josh is a lower-percentage shot for him than if he gets into the lane. Lastly, if he has time to get a clear look and have his feet set, my 11-year old brother’s jumper looks pretty good too :) .

It’s no knock on Josh to say he shouldn’t be taking long jumpers. I don’t think Josh views that as his game. He can outjump anyone in the league not named Dwight. He can, should, and often does use that ability on the offensive end – crash the boards, cut to the lane, get the ball in the post. The reason he became the early favorite for team MVP was that he had stopped taking perimeter shots and started doing what he does best offensively – ie everything else.

Maybe if we had, oh I dunno, AN OFFENSIVE SYSTEM, we would see him do more of that. But no. We have one that leaves him standing 18+ feet from the basket on half or more of our possessions plays. Brilliant.

I swear, put Josh with D’Antoni or Karl, and he’d be averaging 19 and 12. And he wouldn’t be taking jumpers. They would realize that if you have a guy with a max reach of 12 feet, he should never be outside 12 feet of the basket unless it’s to set a screen.

niremetal

January 6th, 2010
11:01 pm

This is the image that always defines Josh for me:
http://i2.cdn.turner.com/si/2008/writers/marty_burns/11/12/hawks.start/josh-smith.p1.jpg

Bibby said it best – if you don’t want him taking jumpers, draw up a system that doesn’t put him on the perimeter so much. Dude can jump with D-12. Put him in a position to use that skill on every possession.