Horford’s hard work pays off

Undersized. Natural power forward. Not a true center.

Those are probably the three most common caveats you’ve heard when people describe Al Horford. I think Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers said it best however, when he said that he didn’t know what Horford was (by definition of a specific position), other than a heck of a player, and a load to deal with in the paint. Doc is right, and it’s doubtful that any coach or opposing player would disagree. Horford is a pivot man. He is by necessity, because the Hawks need him to be. He is because he has the heart to be. He just plain is. Does it really matter what we call him, or what position he seems to fit the most? Here, in his third year, Horford has become an all-star. Is this a one-time thing, or should we expect to see many more selections?

Why Not Lee or Lopez?

Hard not to be a homer here, but I’ll give it a try. David Lee’s numbers are as close to 20 and 10 as you can manage without it being official. Brook Lopez is right behind him in that segment. So how do they get snubbed, when their rebounding and scoring numbers are better than Al Horford’s? Well, we do have to remember that the coaches are voting for the all-star reserves. As good as Lee’s numbers are, he’s on a losing team. That goes double for Brook Lopez. But with the coaches, maybe that takes a back seat to something else. Like, how much respect they have for these players. How much they like them.

Lee has been a good rebounder for his entire career. A scorer? Not so much. Why? Because he’s never been the focal point of the offense. Nobody ever really took the time to find a way to take advantage of a guy who was capable of this type of efficiency. That is, until Mike D’Antoni came along. D’Antoni’s system allows Lee to rebound like he normally does, but it also called for Lee to get a lot more touches. To illustrate the point, Lee has taken 643 shots so far this year. That’s a far cry from the 618 TOTAL that he took in 2007-2008. So is his offensive production a result of the sudden addition and refinement of a repertoire of offensive go-to moves, or is Lee benefitting from the fact that he’s the team’s only serious rebounder (offensive boards mean shot opportunities as well), and his coach’s system? In the end, what precisely does Lee mean to his team? If he’s out, is there something he does that they simply cannot replace? Is there something that he does that truly drives his team to win (whey they DO win)? Tough questions, and none are to suggest that David Lee is not important to his team. The question is one of true value.

Brook Lopez, in my opinion, finds himself in much the same place that Kevin Durant found himself . As in, a very good player on a very bad team. Lopez has all the tools. He’s got the size (7-footer). He has good footwork and back-to-the-basket skills. He rebounds. He defends. He is also the focal point of his team’s offense. He takes more shots than anybody else. However, of all the players on the roster, Lopez is the only one to play in all 44 games of the season so far. He’s also the only starter to actually start every game he’s played in. Lopez is a lonely guy. You could say he can’t be replaced, but you could also say that there would be next to no difference if he were playing or not. Why? The Nets are losing all the time. Lopez is good, and he will get better. He will get named to all-star teams. But right now, he’s not good enough to do two things: One, make his teammates better. And two, make his team competitive from night to night.

The all-star game selections will always be part popularity game, whether it’s the fans voting the starters in, or the coaches voting in the reserves. Coaches like and respect certain things, and theirs is a perspective different than that of the fans in a number of ways. I truly believe that the coaches respect Al Horford and his value, more than they currently do Lee or Lopez. And why not? Al Horford is the undersized, non-traditional pivot man for a team that is top three in the East. If I could, I’d ask coaches who they gameplan more for: Horford, Lee, or Lopez. I’d ask players who they look for a tougher game from: Horford, Lee, or Lopez?

 

Josh Smith Gets the Snub

I’m not going to be silly and say I knew this was coming. However, I am going to say that I’m not surprised. I really wanted to see both Josh and Al get the nod as first-time all-stars, but I figured the Hawks just aren’t NBA darlings in the traditional sense. Remember when the Pistons were winning? They had three all-stars if I’m not mistaken. Remember the Celtics in 2007-2008? Three all-stars again. Not to take anything away from those teams and their respective players, but I can’t say it enough: this whole thing is saturated in popularity contest, to a point. Keep that in mind, as I’ll present it from a different point of view, one you may not find all that pleasant, but may hold a kernel of truth all the same.

Josh Smith has been a great player for the Hawks this season, truly taking his game to another level. At a brief glance, any outsider who didn’t pay much attention to the game would probably disagree. After all, Smith has gone down in scoring this year (15.1 ppg) from last year (15.6), and the year before (17.2). On the flip side, his turnovers have decreased, his field goal percentage has increased, and his rebounds have gone back up a bit. Perhaps more significant has been his assist average. Smith always seemed to have a knack for making a good pass here and there, but all too often he would get himself in a bad position to send one, or he’d try to force one. This season, Josh is averaging roughly 4 assists per game, and is in much better control of himself overall.

Smith is all over the court, and has become a middle linebacker/free safety on defense, cleaning up all kinds of mistakes and intimidating the opposition. His value to this team is extremely high. Some say that as Smith goes, so do the Hawks. There are three things that I believe held him back from an all-star bid. Scoring average, scoring versatility, and….popularity. Well, might as well make it four by adding rebounding. Three of these things are related in some ways, while a fourth is not. Can you guess which one? Smith’s value can’t be measured solely by his stats, but at the same time, those stats still tell a tale. Let’s start with rebounding. Forwards Chris Bosh and Gerald Wallace, who did get all-star bids, both average more than 11 rebounds per game, putting them ahead of Smith by more than 2.5 per game. That’s a significant difference, but it might be overlooked if not for the scoring differential. Smith is shooting a career high from the field, but it’s not  enough to make a favorable comparison with Wallace and Bosh. At only 15.1 points per game, Smith is out-performed by Wallace (18.6) and blown away by Bosh (23.9). And I think that this is due, in part to a lack of scoring versatility. Bosh and Wallace can both hit the jumper on a regular basis, as needed. Smith cannot, at least not yet. That, and the Hawks are versatile enough on offense that Smith is not required to produce a whole lot. Between the two, Smith gets far fewer touches than Bosh, and is less efficient than Wallace.

Last but not least, there is popularity. The stats alone are hard to overcome. And while intangibles carry weight, they mean different things to different people. Smith is a mercurial talent to seems to only now be settling into his role and his groove. He still has room to grow. He still has room to mature. Wallace and Bosh have already been there, and neither one had some of the rocky moments that Smith had. Officials probably don’t have any particular love for Smith’s whiny, pouty ways. Would it be a strange idea to suggest that coaches don’t either? What if Smith’s scoring was on part with Wallace’s? What if he was a better rebounder? The numbers always help, and they may indeed be the backbone of these decisions. And I’m not suggesting that Smith didn’t make the all-star team because he is not as well liked. But half a season of improved maturity and team play do not an all-star make. Smith will get there if he keeps his mind focused. He certainly has the talent. He may not score like Bosh does. But he can definitely show himself to be better than Wallace. And he can have a greater effect on the game than both. He just has to keep working, and keep maturing.

Was Josh Smith robbed? Depends on who you are, and if you’re comparing him to other forwards. I think he’s right on the brink of making it. Is it fair to compare him with teammate Al Horford when talking all-star bids? Maybe, maybe not. The two are linked, but they are also being asked to play two different positions and to do different things. What does Smith have to do to make the all-star team next season?

74 comments Add your comment

Melvin

January 28th, 2010
10:49 pm

Hoopsworld breakdown all-star selections/snubs to who could be coaching the east all-stars…. Good read…

http://www.hoopsworld.com/Story.asp?story_id=15120

blonju

January 28th, 2010
11:43 pm

Big Ray,

you missed one thing… josh’s minutes are down, around 33 per night, because we have won a lot of games in the 3rd quarter.. i can’t necessarily disagree with you about his offensive efficiency when compared to wallace and bosh, but i can guarantee if you trade him straight up for either of those 2 guys, his minutes are up to 38, and his stats are more like 19 & 10 — josh got robbed — hawks deserved 3 all-stars — the intangibles and winning are more important than you think when talking about who’s the real “all-star” here.

Gilley

January 29th, 2010
1:39 am

Great post!!!!!!!

wordsmithtom

January 29th, 2010
8:00 am

Echo your “hard work” comment. Some call Horfy a “lunch pail” kind of player. Brings it to work every day… I’m tired of hearing his size being a problem. Size was never mentioned when Charles Barlkley’s name came up. It was all about work ethic, consistency, leadership and heart. It’s NOT the size of fight in the dog, but the size of the fight IN the dog. Horfy has HEART. Also, as you note, this was a coachs’ pik. Josh Smith still has a rep of being a complainer. Until he consistently harnesses the need to impress his attitude, and not just his work, upon the game, he’ll stay on the edge. Let your work tell the tale; not your mouth. Instead of whining on bad calls, he could be running down the court to get ready for the next play. THAT would give him 2-3 more rebounds a game….THAT alone would make JS an allstar. He’ll get it, one of these days, if he doesn’t get hurt. That sort of “ball IQ” takes maturity. Horfy is more mature, at his age, because he played at an elite level before he got here. Josh came in as a high school player. He’s come a long way. He needn’t hang his head at the snub…he needs to run down the court and get ready to beat up on Boston tonight. That’s the only “words” the coaches will listen to…..

O'Brien

January 29th, 2010
8:07 am

Good blog Ray,

I dont think Josh was robbed. He was very deserving, but Pierce, Wallace and Bosh are also deserving. Hopefully KG will withdraw (so he can rest his knees), and hopefully will get Josh in.

If Josh could shoot the jumper more consistently, he would probably be averaging 18pts a game, if not more. There was an article that said Josh is a 37% jump shooter for his career, but this season, he is only shooting 27% attempting 2.7 jump shots per game.

I would say to Josh, stop shooting jumpshots (unless shot clock is winding down). Either go to the basket, or pass the ball. Chances are that will either increase his assist total, or increase his point total.

blonju,

I agree that if Josh traded places with Bosh, his numbers would go up. But what do you think Bosh’s numbers would be if he played for the Hawks? With JJ and Crawford on the perimeter, Bosh would get better looks at the basket, and chances are, his assists would go up, because he has JJ, Bibby, and Crawford as shooters.

Bosh does not have the kind of defense and intangibles that Josh has, but if Bosh played for the Hawks, I think he would still average 20 and 10.

Astro Joe

January 29th, 2010
8:18 am

I also think the difference is about reputation. Let’s face it, Horford has done things “the right way” from the day he stepped into an NBA arena. Smith is lauded for showing his maturity in the past 4 months. I’m fairly sure that if Smith maintains this level of play AND the Hawks maintain this type of winning record next season, that Smith will get in. I think the snub was essentially the coaches saying “yeah, let’s see you do it for more than forty-something games”.

Jon Hughes

January 29th, 2010
8:42 am

“maturity and team play do not an all-star make”…..who wrote this part? Yoda?

Daniel

January 29th, 2010
9:56 am

O’Brien- I really like your point about Josh and KG. When do players have to withdraw by? Is there a time table?

Even though, I actually predictd Joe and Al making it and Josh not (just because of the competition at his position). When it became reality I can’t help but be suprised.

I truly believe Al deserves to be an All Star, but it hard to say that when Josh is not one also.

I hope KG withdraws, he is the least deserving on the list.

Daniel

January 29th, 2010
9:58 am

blonju- It is hard for me to say Josh got “robbed” when comparing him to Bosh and Wallace. Those guys are better than Josh right now. He did get robbed because the fans voted in Kevin Garnett when he has been hurt and playing like garbage, did you see him last night? Dude, needs to take a rest and let Josh play.

[...] guy hits more than anybody in the league” Metro    Garnett still Mr. Intensity AJC    Horford’s hard work pays off Green Street   Rondo, Pierce named to All-Star team Fast break: Celtics-Magic Fox News  Magic, [...]

Big Ray

January 29th, 2010
10:11 am

Blonju ,

You’re right, I didn’t make note of Smith’s reduced minutes, and I should have. As for scoring efficiency, Smith needs a better jumper (NOT meaning he needs to shoot MORE jumpers), and a better free throw percentage. I couldn’t agree more about the intangibles and the winning. I don’t want to trade Josh for either of the guys who got the all-star nod ahead of him. No way do I undervalue what he does for this team. Did I want him to make the team? Yes, I did. But I also don’t think that he or the Hawks are “robbed” by him not making it. Not getting it doesn’t make him a worse player, and should make him a better one in the end.

O’brien ,

I agree. Bosh is a 20 and 10 guy just about anywhere he goes. If he were here in place of Josh, would that make us as successful as we are now, moreso, or less so? I am going with less, because Bosh’s intangibles aren’t intangibles. He plays with passion, but 20 and 10 is what you get from him. You don’t get all the rest of the things that Josh brings. I’m really just echoing what you’re saying, not arguing against it….

Astro Joe ,

Comment saved, and you basically hit the bullseye on what I was tap-dancing around (tap-dancing just ain’t for 300 lb guys, I can tell ya that) in my second-to-last paragraph. I couldn’t agree more.

Jon Hughes ,

Man, you’re right! Who in the devil writes this stuff?! ;)

Big Ray

January 29th, 2010
10:18 am

Daniel ,

I think it’s difficult for us because we see this purely from a Hawks fan standpoint. We also look at Josh and Al as teammates (which they are), not as two guys playing two different positions, and being asked to do different things. In a way, we are probably judging the two guys in a “who is more of the MVP of this team” than we are “who is doing what, compared to others of the same position.” It’s hard to do, considering what Josh has done for this team.

Comparing Josh’s stats and reputation to that of his opponents (again of the same position) puts him in a less favorable light, largely because as Astro Joe noted, he’s only done this for the past 40+ games. Horford compares well to his counterparts however, due to a number of circumstances, consistency, etc.

I agree that it just does NOT seem right. I think we won’t be saying this next year, though….

niremetal

January 29th, 2010
10:29 am

I think Josh deserved to be an All-Star. That being said, it was in retrospect a fait accompli that he wouldn’t make it once KG won a starting spot. Bosh deserved to be a starter (only guy in the NBA who is top 10 in both scoring and rebounding – and he’s doing it while shooting 52% from the floor) and Wallace deserved to be the first forward off the bench. But Josh has been far more valuable to his team than KG has been to his this year.

I think that an even bigger travesty is that Iverson made it. At least KG plays for a decent team. The number of deserving guards in the East is pretty damned low, but you could just bump Rose from utility to reserve guard and plug Josh or Lee into the utility spot. Argh.

If wishes were horses, this would be my East All-Star squad:
Starters
G – Wade
G – JJ
F – LeBron
F – Bosh
C – Howard

Reserves: Rondo, Rose, G. Wallace, Smoove, Horford, Lee, Jamison/Pierce (take your pick)

Big Ray

January 29th, 2010
10:30 am

One other thing. I’d argue that Iverson least deserves an all-star bid. KG was hurt, and I realize he was a popularity pick anyway. The guy is a warrior as long as he’s able to play.

Iverson is a whole different matter altogether. I don’t want to judge too harshly, but in my opinion, there is not a single thing he did this season to merit even getting a ticket to the game, much less being in it (much less being a starter!). The guy tarnished his own reputation by thinking “Iverson first” and “team not at all.” On top of that, he has posted pedestrian stats that are inferior to those of Rajon Rondo, Mo Williams, Derrick Rose, Brandon Jennings, Devin Harris, Rodney Stuckey, and hasn’t done any better than Louis Williams was doing before he got hurt.

So much for not judging harshly….

doc

January 29th, 2010
10:31 am

whew, on second read i saw tap dancing ray. i first thought you were lap dancing around aj. ;-) glad to have my reading glasses on.

great blog as usual. how is the oral surgery issue?

josh has bought in completely tothe team concept. i dont think there is any way that if he wanted to be a 20-10 guy there is anyone who could stop him from doing so. i just dont think he would fill the stat sheet as well nor the hawks win as much. the guy is unselfish almost to a fault as is horford. you dont get 4 assists on avg by playing your game.

doc

January 29th, 2010
10:34 am

josh and al, if allowed to saty together might be one of the better one two combinations ever and go down with some of the greatest pf and c combos the game has known. they are a combo effort and play their roles well. their notoriety will come.

Big Ray

January 29th, 2010
10:38 am

Celts lost a squeaker to the Magic last night, so they aren’t going to be happy campers tonight. While tired, I’m sure they don’t want to get swept for the season by us little ‘ol Hawks.

Gonna have to treat this like a UFC fight. Hit ‘em hard, fast, and continuous, before taking them down with a submission move.

Big Ray

January 29th, 2010
10:39 am

LOL @ Doc …. dang, man, dang. You don’t ever have to worry about something like that happening, I assure you.

Great comments on Josh/Al. With healthy and growth, definitely could be one of the most storied combos. Hope to see plenty of that tonight. Hope Horford’s injured thumb is better, too. Seemed to be affecting him against San Antonio.

Surgery stuff is…. okay. Still have two tubes sewn into the insides of my nostrils. NOT FUN.

Daniel

January 29th, 2010
10:51 am

Ray- Of course AI is the least deserving starter. I meant KG was the least deserving among the forwards. In fact, I basically said the exact same thing as niremetal on MC’s blog. (No nire, I didn’t meant to plagarize, we just agree, please don’t sue me…)
I am less worried about the C’s anger/desperation than I was the Spurs. Did you guys see KG and Wallace last night? That team is about to be done. They are on the ropes. Time to knock ‘em out!!!

niremetal

January 29th, 2010
10:51 am

Sorry Doc, but I don’t think Josh/Al will ever be close to the level of Worthy/Kareem, McHale/Parish, Robinson/Duncan, or even lesser-known (or at least less appreciated) pairs like Sikma/Webster, Sampson/Olajuwon, Ewing/Cartwright, Ewing/Oakley, or Webber/Divac (probably the most underrated frontcourt combo of the past 20 years, mainly because most people don’t realize how good Divac was). They aren’t even the best in the game today – that honor has to go to Gasol/Bynum. They’re very good, and certainly the best combo currently playing in the East, but I would be beyond shocked if anyone rated them above any of the above combos (with the possible exception of Webber/Divac) when all is said and done.

niremetal

January 29th, 2010
10:52 am

But hey, who am I to tamper down a little homerism. You’ve got the spirit, Doc ;)

Daniel

January 29th, 2010
11:29 am

Alright Nire, I will bite. OK Kareem/Worth and McHale/Parrish. I mean really who can compete with that?

Duncan/Robinson was only one year and one championship. If Josh and Al get a ring that immediately jumps Eving/Oakley/Cartwright). Shouldn’t it really be Olajuwon/Thorpe?
I support you on the Webber/Divac, very underappreciated.
Bynum is going to fade, mark my words…. His potential is overated, he has a poor attitude(on a team of winners and HOF’s…I mean c’mon!)and he is injury prone. I give Bynum the full brush off, he will have less of a career than Jermaine Oneal(sans chammpionships)

niremetal

January 29th, 2010
11:32 am

Kinda pulling both ways, aren’t you Daniel? The lack of titles is a disqualifier for Ewing and Co. but the presence of a title is no help to Bynum.

niremetal

January 29th, 2010
11:35 am

And Daniel – Duncan/Robinson was 6 years and 2 championships with the winning percentage never dropping below .646.

Daniel

January 29th, 2010
11:37 am

yes, it seems unfair, but you are placing the Bynum/Gasol tandem based on what they might do. Bynum was not that big of piece last year. Ewing and Co. is done so the story is written for them. Let’s say Bynum/Gasol continue to win championships with a significant contribution then I will eat my words. But for now, I maintain Bynum is a tagalong and overrated.

doc

January 29th, 2010
11:53 am

nire, i cant dispute anything now right now only add my two cents worth which is all this type of a discussion is anyway as it could be years before the answer is known, only time will tell. the only two sets i feel that will surpass them for total impact on a team will be worthy and kareem an robinson and duncan. it is only because kareem was the best there ever will be and worthy was way ahead of his time for what skill set he brought to the table on the lakers and how tim allowed robinson to fill a different need or role for his own team as he was well past his prime and game once the fundamental arrived.

worthy’s skills were not what the typical power forward had in that era but more the skill set of a combo forward that made them even more effective as a pair. remember you are looking in the rear view mirror on the other guys while trying to project what could be if these two guys are allowed to stay together for a career as they grow and mature. i also say this because they could stay together for very long time which will be longer than the spurs set of twin towers. these guys are also not towers by any means making their accomplishments even greater.

finally, i conclude by saying even if they dont ever make a championship together it will not diminish their combined record any more than the combo of accomplishments in utah by a certain power forward and point guard who never got the ring. it could be that you wont be able to mention one without the other. if you put d wade instead of jj with them right now, it would be a totally different discussion.

oh dear, i might have stirred the pot too much there. ;-)

O'Brien

January 29th, 2010
11:55 am

Josh has a reputation around the league about being a whiner/sulker (the ESPN analysts always mention it whenever they do a Hawks game) when it comes to refs. He has improved this year, but he still complains too much about the calls and non-calls. When he stops doing that, his reputation will improve even more.

nire,

I think Pierce should be on the team. He is averaging 18 pts, 5 rebs and 4 assists for the # 2 team in the East. Plus KG has missed some games, and Pierce has helped carry them.
Although Lee’s numbers are inflated playing in Mike D’s system, I would not put him on the team because of the Knicks W-L record.

Iverson should not be an all-star, but knowing him, I would be surprised if he withdraws. KG looked slow last night (Lewis drove right by him for the game winning lay-up), and he has not been impressive this year. But this is where the fans get it wrong again. I think KG was voted in because of his name.

Ray,

Although Bosh does not have the intangibles or defend like Josh, I don’t think the Hawks would have those kind of scoring droughts if Bosh was on the team. That being said, for the youth, potential, and salary, I will take Josh. (I must confess that last season I was open to the idea of trading Josh for Bosh if we could afford to resign Bosh and JJ. I’m glad Josh has taken another step forward).

Doc,

On this team, I can think Josh can be a 20 and 10 guy very easily, without changing the dynamics of the team, and the Hawks would improve instantly. My 4 keys for Josh:

1) Reduce the silly fouls he commits (so he can stay in the game)
2) Stop talking to the refs and get back on defense (more rebounding opportunities)
3) Cut back on jump shots (shooting 27%) and drive the ball. That should increase his scoring, and give him more opportunities to rebound the ball if he misses
4) Increase FT %

vava74

January 29th, 2010
12:05 pm

A very precise and humorous scouting report on both the Celts and the Magic:

http://msn.foxsports.com/nba/story/orlando-magic-and-boston-celtics-have-problems

O'Brien

January 29th, 2010
12:24 pm

Josh has a reputation of being a whiner/sulker (the ESPN analysts always mention it whenever they do a Hawks game) when it comes to refs. He has improved this year, but he still complains too much about the calls and non-calls. I also wonder if he still has a reputation of being hard to coach?

nire,

I think Pierce should be on the team. He is averaging 18 pts, 5 rebs and 4 assists for the # 2 team in the East. Plus KG has missed some games, and Pierce has helped carry them.
Although Lee’s numbers are inflated playing in Mike D’s system, I would not put him on the team because of the Knicks W-L record.

Iverson should not be an all-star, but knowing him, I would be surprised if he withdraws. KG looked slow last night (Lewis drove right by him for the game winning lay-up), and he has not been impressive this year. But this is where the fans get it wrong again. I think KG was voted in because of his name.

Ray,

Although Bosh does not have the intangibles or defend like Josh, I don’t think the Hawks would have those kind of scoring droughts if Bosh was on the team. That being said, for the youth, potential, and salary, I will take Josh.

I must confess that last season I was open to the idea of trading Josh for Bosh if we could afford to resign Bosh and JJ. I’m glad Josh has taken another step forward.

O'Brien

January 29th, 2010
12:31 pm

Doc,

On this team, I can think Josh can be a 20 and 10 guy very easily, without changing the dynamics of the team, and the Hawks would improve instantly. My 4 keys for Josh:

1) Reduce the silly fouls he commits (so he can stay in the game)
2) Stop talking to the refs and get back on defense (more rebounding opportunities)
3) Cut back on jump shots (shooting 27%) and drive the ball. That should increase his scoring, and give him more opportunities to rebound the ball if he misses
4) Increase FT %

vava74

January 29th, 2010
12:31 pm

J-Smoove » G. Wallace head to head per 48 minutes:

JS pts 21,67 : reb 12,2 : ass 5,56 : stl 2,16 : blk 3,1
W pts 21,24 : reb 12,5 : ass 2,18 : stl 1,83 : blk 1,38

I think it is safe to say that Josh wins the head to head hands down!!!

vava74

January 29th, 2010
12:45 pm

Interesting stats:

http://www.nba.com/statistics/plusminus/plusminus_sort.jsp?pcomb=5&season=22009&split=9&team=

Look how the Cavs best 3 line ups do NOT include Shaq…

In relation to the Hawks, the best line up is by far (per minute – not accumulated) is Bibby, Craw, JJ, Smoove and Al, more than doubling the +- ratio of the starting 5.

I think Rod will be smiling if he reads this… This is in line with our typical Hawks game: our starting 5 starts slow and then we get back into the game with Crawford going crazy for a bunch of points.

Some combinations listed have far too few minutes played to be considered relevant (anything under 100 minutes).

O'Brien

January 29th, 2010
12:55 pm

nire,

I think Pierce should be on the team. He is averaging 18 pts, 5 rebs and 4 assists for the # 2 team in the East. Plus KG has missed some games, and Pierce has helped carry them.

Although Lee’s numbers are inflated playing in Mike D’s system, I would not put him on the team because of the Knicks W-L record. Iverson should not be an all-star, but knowing him, I would be surprised if he withdraws.

KG looked slow last night (Lewis drove right by him for the game winning lay-up), and he has not been impressive this year. But this is where the fans get it wrong again. I think KG was voted in because of his name.

Ray,

Although Bosh does not have the intangibles or defend like Josh, I don’t think the Hawks would have those kind of scoring droughts if Bosh was on the team. That being said, for the youth, potential, and salary, I will take Josh.

I must confess that last season I was open to the idea of trading Josh for Bosh if we could afford to resign Bosh and JJ. I’m glad Josh has taken another step forward.

doc

January 29th, 2010
1:34 pm

o’b pierce’s numbers do not distinguish him from josh and may show him to be inferior. as you suggest they have been without kg … i would have expected his numbers to be far superior to josh. across the board he probably doesnt fill the stat sheet as well as josh nor make as much of a difference on defense. after all pierce doesnt play behind bibby or jamal who have very inferior d whereas he pays behind one of the better point defenders in rondo with long quick arms and speed forward and laterally.

vava that was the line up i predicted to be huge in the off season and was laughed at. jj is better at three than maybe at two especially if he doesnt have to bound the ball.

nice stats for wallace and like him a lot. he has maybe been overlooked in his career. if josh were on other teams his numbers would easily put him in a category that folks couldnt overlook as well and maybe be better than wallace. guess, i am a homer but feel a bit more objective when you put numbers up there like that and see his smash’s total contributions to his team.

niremetal

January 29th, 2010
2:00 pm

Doc,

Do you seriously think that Josh/Horford have a shot to surpass McHale/Parish in ANY measure (team wins, individual production, whatever)? Come on, now. Those were two Hall of Famers. Larry Bird was one of the greatest, but he doesn’t win a title without McHale and Parish.

As for Josh’s scoring, why do you WANT him to be a featured scorer? That’s not Josh’s game. Josh is an incredible help defender, a great rebounder (and an elite offensive rebounder), a good post defender, a good passer, and a great hustle player. But he has a poor jump shot, is a poor free throw shooter, is a mediocre ball-handler, and has an above average (but by no means great) post repertoire. Most of Josh’s points come at the rim (8.8ppg) and most of those are assisted (62.5%) or come off offensive rebounds. Even moreso than Horford, he doesn’t create his own shot very well. So he’d need a LOT of touches – and in a system that gives him lots of open looks – to average 20ppg.

Lighting up the scoreboard is not Josh’s game and THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT. Every championship winning-team has at least one or two key players who are never asked to be a featured offensive player – whether it’s Horace Grant, Rick Fox, Mario Elie/Robert Horry, etc. Josh is, in my mind, the Horace Grant of this team. If he’s feeling it, he can put in 20 points. But you want him to spend most of his time and energy doing what he does best – defending, rebounding, And he’s been in the league 6 years now, so it’s tough to imagine that he’s going to suddenly develop mad handles and a dagger jumper.

The team does better when Josh fills up the stat sheet across the board, not when he scores more. That’s why the Hawks have done better the past couple years as Josh has taken on less of a featured offensive role but greatly increased his scoring efficiency and cut way, way down on the silly mistakes he made back in ‘07. If you want to be a playoff team, you can’t ask Josh to be your #1 scorer over the course of a full season. That’s not his game, and it’s not what you want him to focus on.

My view is simple: I think we compete for a title much more easily if Josh averages 15-16, 12, and 5 while shooting 53% from the field than if Josh averages 19, 8, and 3 while shooting 45-46% from the field (which, based on his game and past stats, is probably what his percentage would drop to if he were asked to average that much). So why would you want to turn Josh into the latter? Why would you want him to expend his energy on anything other than what he does best?

Astro Joe

January 29th, 2010
2:00 pm

If Smith comes into this game with his head screwed on right… and with KG looking like an 89 YO, Josh could have a signature game. I expect his teammates to look for him early and often in tonight’s game. It wouldn’t shock me to see no less than 3-4 amazing plays from Josh in the first half alone. And I’m not quite sure how I feel about the premise… because I really enjoyed the more controlled Josh that played againstthe Spurs the other night. I’d rather not see an in-between-the-legs-360-windmill-throwdown attempt ala the Heat series last year.

O'Brien

January 29th, 2010
2:11 pm

thanks for the link vava. If I’m not mistaken, the best 3 player combination for the Hawks is JJ, Josh, and Horford, while the best 2 player combination was Josh and Horford. Interesting.

Doc,

I like JJ at the 3, but only for spot minutes. I think an interesting poll question would be…who is the better SF? JJ or Marvin?

nire,

I think Josh can average 18 pts, 11 rebs (Gerald Wallace “nimbers”), 5 assists, and 2.5 blocks, without being a featured scorer. Just cut back on the jump shots (pass the ball or take it to the rim), and step up his rebounding efforts.

AJ,

KG looked really slow last night, this is the second night of a back to back, and only his 4th game back from injury. Hawks need to make him work on offense and defense.

One key will be Bibby. If he is able to hold his own (offensively), that would be a big plus, because defensively, Rondo will get by him all day.

Astro Joe

January 29th, 2010
2:21 pm

OB, Rondo has played 3 games against us and I’m fairly sure that the TEAM has held him down relative to his season averages. Bibby plays aropund 55-60% of the game, whatever his defensive liabilities are will not likely be the cause of a defeat.

niremetal

January 29th, 2010
2:21 pm

O’Brien,

It’s JJ, hands down. That being said, JJ is more effective as a 2 where he can use his size and long strides to create space; against 3s he gets a slight edge in quickness, but he loses the advantages that make him as good as he is at the 2. Also, playing the 3 is much more physically demanding – fatigue and injuries come much more easily when you’re having to body up and chase around people bigger than you. So I agree with you that I like JJ at the 3, but only for spot minutes.

The one thing that I find interesting about the 5-man unit stats is that our worst units always seem to be the ones with Josh and Marvin in the game at the same time; it’s less pronounced this year than in past years, but it makes sense if you watch the games. They don’t seem to “read” each other very well on either end.

Big Ray

January 29th, 2010
2:28 pm

Dang, y’all are on fire in here!

O’brien ,

In regard to your last comment to me, we’re in the same canoe. Bosh definitely means no scoring droughts, though it’s interesting to wonder if his offense would be enough to make up for a drop in defensive intangibles. I too, was ok with the idea of such a trade last year. Not anymore.

Big Ray

January 29th, 2010
2:31 pm

The one thing that I find interesting about the 5-man unit stats is that our worst units always seem to be the ones with Josh and Marvin in the game at the same time; it’s less pronounced this year than in past years, but it makes sense if you watch the games. They don’t seem to “read” each other very well on either end.

Very, very interesting. That’s something I hadn’t thought of, and I would enjoy an elaboration on the subject.

O'Brien

January 29th, 2010
3:11 pm

nire,

It has been bantered about that maybe Marvin Williams would be a better player (and have more impact on the game) if he came off the bench. I wonder how the numbers would shake out if Chills was on the team.

For the record, I would love to have Chills and Marvin as our SFs. Although Chills’ jump shot is horrible, he is 6′7″, and Mo Evans defense is overated. Mr. Sund, get Chills in here this offseason, please.

AJ,

Point taken. I will say, our guards need to help rebound the ball tonight.

doc

January 29th, 2010
3:23 pm

nire,

i think they will be comparable to mchale/chief not inferior. never said any of the other guys you mentioned would be inferior. you read something into it if you did. those guys were also paired with one of the best players ever in bird as was worthy and kareem with magic. totally different stories and keep championships out of it because there is more to it than that as i stated in my comments above. i chose to stay with the pint the only ones that would be definitely superior. again these guys are putting up impressive numbers very early in their careers and i am talking career numbers not two to four years time spans.

put a magic or bird type with josh and al and you again are talking a different story. again that was what i said if we had d wade come in here. we dont have that third guy superstar that mchale and chief had or kareem and worthy had. they were the prototype of the three star systems that win championships in most cases. duncan and robinson did it on their own merit in a way and maybe worthy and kareem would have without magic. i just dont think mchale and chief would have won all those rings without the others around them and to infer otherwise is ludicrous especially when it was with one of the best money players, bird of four in the history of the game; the others being jordan and magic and possibly shaq as well

i dont think ANYWHERE did i comment i wanted josh to score more, nire, only he was capable given the right team or circumstances. shoot al harrington did that enough on bad teams didnt he to know that isnt the measure but it the one everyone comes up with first. didnt some throw out ppg for pierce and wallace as the first justifications of their choice over josh? that is my point the kid could score in boatloads if with the right team, system or circumstances. i was not arguing i wanted him to do any of it. amare doesnt have an outside shot like josh either but has made out like a bandit playing where he does. put josh in there and his numbers soar.

niremetal

January 29th, 2010
3:23 pm

O’Brien,

I don’t know what would be best for Marvin as far as starter vs. bench. More than anything, he needs a role. Right now, his role is not really defined beyond “hit open shots on ISO-bailouts.” He’s trying to feel his way through a reduced role, kinda like Kirilenko had to do in Utah a couple years back. Once Sloan told Kirilenko was that his role was to be the #1 help defender on D, move/cut to an open spots on O, and generally crash the boards and be a hustle player, he became a vastly improved player (though not as productive as he was before the Boozer/Deron era began). I think we can expect similar things from Marvin, except replace the help D bit with “guard the opposing team’s best wing.” Basically, he needs to be Battier on D and Kirilenko on O (but with a better jump shot). But right now, his role is pretty murky.

niremetal

January 29th, 2010
3:34 pm

Doc,

Riddle me this: If you put Josh and Al on the 80’s Celtics, do you honestly think they are just as good a team? If you say yes, then seriously…you’re either stirring the pot or delusional. Those two were first ballot Hall of Fame players. That was not just because of Bird. McHale led the Celtics in scoring twice while Bird was still a superstar and had, bar none, the best low post repertoire in the history of the game. Robert Parish was a 9-time All-Star and the best on-ball defensive big man of his time. I turn it right back around – Bird wouldn’t have been able to be the player HE was without McHale and Parish taking care of everything that happened within 10 feet of the basket.

I’m fixating on this for a reason: You need to step back and take a deep breath if you’re putting Josh and Al in the same class as first-ballot Hall of Famers.

doc

January 29th, 2010
3:35 pm

btw, jj is the guy who needs the touches and time of possession,nire. look to how long or often josh or al get the ball and hold onto it or look at their numbers of shots for points scored and they are highly efficient scorers.

i dont disagree with nay of your comments on what josh’s contributions needs to be for this team to be successful. i am only saying those measures dont always allow you to end up on an all star team.

Astro Joe

January 29th, 2010
3:59 pm

If it ain’t broke… Most would agree that if Joe had to play 30+ minutes at SF, that both he and the team would suffer. Marvin is an above average defender with the physical tools to defend the most dangerous SFs in the league. He doesn’t need touches to soothe his ego and he doesn’t sulk when he sits on the bench. If you allow that this season is an aberration, his jumper has been good enough that teams can’t leave him alone and not pay a price. So that reduces double teams against other teammates by the opposing SF.

I think Marvin has his role and is playing it fine. I hope that he improves his jumper and drives and everything else. But if you allow yourself to forget his draft position and just look at how he fits with his teammates, I don’t see how you can have many complaints. It is unlikely that he will get many more shot opportunities in the coming years. The shot distribution will likely move toward Al and Smith and not toward Marvin. Adding a “scoring threat” at SF won’t add possessions, it will just mean less shots for the remaining players. Marvin is fine in his current role.. especially if his jumper returns to previous standards.

niremetal

January 29th, 2010
4:05 pm

jj is the guy who needs the touches and time of possession,nire

Al and Josh are efficient scorers in large part because their teammates give them lots of opportunities at the rim – mostly through assists, and other times through offensive rebounds.

JJ is a guard. You could make the exact same argument with Kobe versus Pau or Chauncey versus Big Ben on the Pistons of yore. The same is true of virtually every guard not named Rondo, Nash, or Stockton compared to their team’s big men. Guards have to create their own shots, so they generally need more shots in order to produce the same number of points. If you find exceptional offensive big men like Shaq, Bosh, or Duncan, then it’s ok to focus your offense on them – they can put up the numbers with fewer touches than guards because they have offensive games. But Josh and Al are not in that class. They can’t create overpower like Shaq could, and don’t have close to the touch or the repertoire of Duncan or Bosh.

And of course, the more touches a player gets, the more those touches will be contested shots, shots further from the basket, and shots facing multiple defenders. So comparing the efficiency of someone who takes 18 shots per game to someone who takes 12 is misleading even if they DO play the same position.

Remember, Dikembe was the Hawks’ most efficient scorer in his time, as was Kevin Willis in his. That doesn’t mean we would have been better if we had taken the ball more out of the hands of comparatively “inefficient” players like Mookie, Steve, Doc, and Nique.

doc

January 29th, 2010
4:06 pm

hmm time wil tell, one an all star in his third year the other maybe stiffed for one at the age of 24. time will tell who is on point or not. strange to call someone delusional or even take such a personal stance on something that is not close to being reality on ay level. again looking backwards vs looking forward is all speculation and part of the fun of discussion, to think otherwise is truly delusional, no fact to any of it.

Melvin

January 29th, 2010
4:09 pm

You guys are definitely on fire today. Great Stuff being shared. I think it’s kind of tricky when comparing players from different eras but you guys have made some great points. However, I would like to add that, didn’t Worthy play SF instead of PF. I remember AC Green/Kurt Rambis playing PF for those showtime Lakers…