Hawks Fans: Captains review

As we know, the Hawks have three team captains. So who is leading this circus, and are they getting along? Given the play of late, one would think that the Hawks have gotten past the chemistry issues they have been having, at least when faced with inferior competition. The question still remains as to whether or not the Hawks can beat good teams. So far, they haven’t. The first win against a winning team will inevitably be faced with another question: Can the Hawks beat good teams consistently?

For now, we just can’t answer that question, and neither can the Hawks. So, let’s review how our team captains are doing. First, let me point out an article containing some of the team’s latest comments on their struggles, courtesy of Hawks beat writer Michael Cunningham. The team seems to know everything that is wrong. They say they know they haven’t been mentally tough enough. They say they’ve gone the other way when other teams made a run. They say a lot, really. You know that whole thing about “knowing is half the battle?” Well, there’s the other half that we seem to be missing here. Can these guys get both halves together, or what?

Joe Johnson

The four time all-star guard is struggling in ways we’ve never really seen him struggle before. In addition to shooting a career low 40.9% from the field, and a dismal 25.6% from three point land, Joe is also averaging the least number of points per game (17.1) that he has in his last seven years. The last time he averaged 17.1, he was the third scoring option on a hot Phoenix Suns team, and was shooting 46% from the field, with a blazing 47.8% coming from three point land. Of late, we’ve seen his left hand shrouded in a glove. Reportedly, the injury happened sometime during preseason or training camp. While an injury to either hand can no doubt affect a player’s performance, there is something of a mystery here. For one thing, the glove has only recently come into play. So too, has the mention and explanation of the injury. For another, it does little to explain 7 games in which Joe has been able to shoot fairly well, or how he has managed to keep up his rebounding. Are Joe’s struggles due solely to his injury (the severity of which is still a question), or is it also something else? Could it have anything to do with playing in Larry Drew’s offense? Yes? No?

From a leadership standpoint, Joe continues to be who he always was: a mostly soft-spoken guy who knows fully well that his team does not tend to handle adversity well. So what is he doing about it? What can he expect to be able to do about it?

 

Al Horford

Right now, Al Horford is in the running for being named the best player on the team. With career highs in scoring (16.3 ppg), assists (3.1), and field goal percentage (60.2%), Horford looks like he’ll get into the all-star game again. Holding steadily near his career average, Horford hits the glass at 9.4 rebounds per game. However, there is a change in him. To a significant degree, Horford is playing more like a forward, and less like a center. He’s blocking fewer shots, but that’s not really his game anywhow. No, the Boss defends by denying position, bodying up, and contesting shots. Sure, he still sees most of his minutes at center, but he has mostly ceased playing like one. This might be better for Horford’s individual accomplishments, as he seems headed for season averages of 17 points, 9 or so rebounds, and roughly 3 assists. But is this better for the team? Will the Hawks finally have to find a way to bring in a more traditional center than can do more than Zaza Pachulia, or can Al get back to his down and dirty ways, where he had fully accepted being a 5?

From the leadership standpoint, Al Horford has been more outspoken to teammates and the media, but is it working? Are guys listening to him, or are his words (and his basketball pedigree) falling on deaf ears? How about his fellow captains, are they in tune with him?

Josh Smith

Few things sum up Josh Smith’s effect on the game and this team like this write-up does. Like it or not, the mercurial Smith is possibly the largest driving force for this team, now even more so with the struggles of Joe Johnson, and the change in Al Horford’s play. Smith fills every stat category nearly every night, and he is making a serious case for himself to make the jump to all-star this season. Smith’s jump shot (you know, that thing that used to not really exist) appears to finally have arrived, as he makes them with some regularity these days. Scarily enough, Smith is making a whopping 39.1% from three point land, while maintaining an overall 50% from the field. Things have even improved from the free throw line (72.7%), and though all of this is still only netting him 15.5 ppg, it’s Smith’s energy level and passing ability (4.1 apg) that makes the difference. Josh still makes some woefully bad plays every now and again, but rarely do they come in succession or even close succession, and he’s not the pick pocket target on the break that he used to be. On the defensive end, the team is simply lost without him. No one on the squad comes even remotely close to his ability to defend the rim or seemingly be in two places at once. Horford’s low post efforts are great (particularly against the bigger players), but as mentioned before, he’s a body-to-body guy who can bang, not so much a shot-altering and offensive game plan-changing force like Smith.

From a leadership standpoint, Smith says some of the right things, then on occasion will say things that worry you. To be a good team captain, he has to bring his own level of energy and effort every single night. The team feeds off of it, which speaks well for him, but in some ways…doesn’t that kind of incriminate other players? Either way, this is where Josh’s leadership counts: in his effort. Without it, he can say anything a guy like Mo Evans says. Seeing things for what they are and being right when you speak out about it doesn’t make you a leader of any sort. Josh has to walk the walk, and he has to do it every time. Take a page from Kevin Garnett’s book.

 

A lot of noise has been made about Josh, his mistakes, his triumphs, and what he brings to the court for this team. Here is a viewpoint on the subject from his two teammates and co-captains, taken from the linked article above:

Joe Johnson -

He came out with that sense of urgency, flying around, blocking shots, rebounding and finding guys,” Johnson said. “When he is playing like that, we all play at a totally different level.”

Al Horford -

He impacts the game in a great way,” Hawks center Al Horford said. “For this team to take it to the next level, everybody has to be the same way.”

And of course, coach Drew -

It just seemed like he was all over the floor,” Drew said. “When he plays like that and plays under control, he is such a force.”

Take a look again at what Joe Johnson and Al Horford said. To me, the two statements sound similar, but have two totally different final or overall perspectives. But that’s just MY take. What do YOU think?

240 comments Add your comment

Christian

November 30th, 2010
9:48 pm

Astro Joe

November 30th, 2010
10:03 pm

I think the statements were about Josh’s specific game performance, not annointing him as leader (or team savior). I’ve never equated leadership with effort. I’ve never thought of “trying hard” as a leadership quality. Is hustle a leadership trait?

Frankly, until this season feels like something other than a disappointment (for me), the question of leadership is a moot point. Let’s see if we have a leader when we face the Florida teams, not when we’re mostly playing the lesser dozen teams in the league.

Miles D

December 1st, 2010
12:18 am

What it sounds like Al and Joe are saying is that because Smoove is so critical to this team. When he brings the energy, effort, and more importantly the maturity and great attitude. It up lifts the whole team because he has the type of talent level to be a “game changer” something that none of our other players have and “thats his role.” Its all about guys knowing and accepting “their roles.” Also, Josh has a really strong personality, so it becomes even more critical for him to “carry the torch.” And alot of games are directly contributed to Josh’s success and/or failure! Its a blessing and a curse! But ultimately, “he is a seven year vet and its time he start playing like one!”

tjhook

December 1st, 2010
12:28 am

Josh allows other players to take risks on defense but some of the role players – Williams, Teague don’t realize the core players’ abilities allow them to be aggressive because they are not counted on regularly to score or rebound heavily. I just want these two to realize the opportunities being afforded them

Ramon

December 1st, 2010
1:15 am

Big Ray, to me it seemed as if Joe gave a lazy mentality answer. And Al gave a hard working mentality answer. It seemed as if Joe was feeling as if Josh is the only player on the team who are supposed to do those tasks. Almost felt as if he was saying, if Josh doesn’t block shots, if Josh doesn’t rebound, the Hawks are toast. On the other hand, it felt as if Al was saying, if EVERYONE did those things, and focused more on those things with energy, then the Hawks would be unstoppable. Very rarely in the NBA do you find a team with a high caliber offense and a blue collar work ethic. However, if the Hawks did that (as I think Al was referring to), who could beat them? It almost feel as if the team actually takes Josh for granted. It seems if Josh was injured or not on the team, the players would be FORCED to provide the energy to do the things that he does.

Ramon

December 1st, 2010
1:17 am

Big Ray, to me it seemed as if Joe gave a lazy mentality answer. And Al gave a hard working mentality answer. It seemed as if Joe was feeling as if Josh is the only player on the team who are supposed to do those tasks. Almost felt as if he was saying, if Josh doesn’t block shots, if Josh doesn’t rebound, the Hawks are toast. On the other hand, it felt as if Al was saying, if EVERYONE did those things, and focused more on those things with energy, then the Hawks would be unstoppable. Very rarely in the NBA do you find a team with a high caliber offense and a blue collar work ethic. However, if the Hawks did that (as I think Al was referring to), who could beat them? It almost feel as if the team actually takes Josh for granted. It seems if Josh was injured or not on the team, the players would be FORCED to provide the energy to do the things that he does.

That is part of the thing that gets me about the Hawks is the fact that they take things for granted. The only reason some of the players (Joe, Marvin, and even Horford sometimes) get as many rebounds as they do, is because Josh has cleared the other team’s big out of the way. Or Josh purposely tips the rebound to teammates, instead of controlling the rebound, and taking the credit for it statistically. Watch tomorrow’s game, and you will see many rebounds where Josh could have controlled. However, he allowed his teammates to have it. If you remember anything about Dennis Rodman, you’ll remember Dennis would run over a teammate to get a rebound even if no opposing team’s player was in the area. Dennis won because he played for Chuck Dailey and Phil Jackson. But Dennis still was a terrible, selfish teammate. Maybe if Josh decided to go that route, he’d average 12-13 boards a game. Even if it meant Joe and Marvin rebounds would drastically drop. And their effort on the glass would also.

Barton

December 1st, 2010
3:36 am

Astro, I would have to disagree only to the extent that there are some leaders who lead through words and others who lead by example. When Josh plays like the team is describing, he leads them by example and they follow with energy of their own.

vava74

December 1st, 2010
4:08 am

Ramon,

You are soooo far off on Rodman.

Rodman was one of the most intelligent players ever to hit a basketball court and always made whatever was necessary to WIN GAMES (including dirty stuff).

Rodman never took a shot that could hurt his team. NEVER.

Rodman never took a gamble on a pass that could hurt his team. NEVER.

Rodman rebounded to WIN GAMES, not to win the best rebounder category.

Josh, on the contrary is trapped between being one of the best hustle players in the history of the game (which he could be if he focused) and his own perception that he is a crossover between Magic and Larry Bird.

Josh could be a tremendous rebounder, but he seldom boxes out or at least he does not do it consistently.

He looks improved this year on all fields (including rebounding) but he and Al have not been consistent rebounders and that has been one of the factors behind our own inconsistency.

Josh is a very good passer FOR HIS POSITION, but he takes way too many gambles in critical periods of the game and you can consistently put a bet that he will either lose one possession or make a bad pass per game doing his Magic Johnson impersonation.

It’s all fine and dandy when you are facing NON HUSTLING teams like WAS, NYK and TOR, but it’s when we face teams which are more disciplined and that hustle and contest every entry pass, every shot and every drive that Josh’s efficiency has to be carefully measured.

And the simple fact is that against that type of teams, a bit too often we see that Josh’s antics end up in lost possessions (2, 3 sometimes 4 or 5 TO) and those lost possessions mean many times 4, 5, 6 or even 8 cumulative point swings… and a loss for us.

I love Josh, but my appreciation for what Josh brings us does not cloud my perception of how much better and how much more efficiently he could play.

Willie Coyote

December 1st, 2010
7:30 am

Oooo…Good catch on those quotes by JJ and Al. JJ seems to think this team needs his energy and for him to be effective to play well and Al says the team just needs to play like that PERIOD. Dang Joe, you really think you guys are not allowed to reach that next level unless Josh is on top of his game? Come on man.

Josh will run into some tough matchups that wil llimit his ability to “fly around” at times. When that happens, someone needs to pick up the slack and we don’t seem to have that guy who can do it on both ends of the court.

Astro Joe

December 1st, 2010
10:01 am

Barton, I understand the concept of “leading by example”, I just don’t recall seeing Joe, Bibby and Marvin respond to Josh’s high-energy efforts by kicking it up a notch. I think Josh needs to bring that energy for himself… so that he can optimize his own performance.

Big Ray

December 1st, 2010
10:04 am

Christian ,

Congratulations.

Astro Joe ,

Leadership would seem like a moot point, but can this team to go from disappointing to meeting or exceeding expectations without it? Or is effort the only thing necessary?

Miles D ,

I agree. Josh’s experience alone offsets the “he’s young” argument entirely. He must play like a veteran, not a guy finding his way. To me, that means bringing what he brings EVERY SINGLE NIGHT.

Big Ray

December 1st, 2010
10:14 am

Ramon ,

I don’t agree that Rodman was a selfish or terrible teammate, but I’m also not stuck on that point. I certainly agree that Josh does impact rebounding for us a great deal, by simply getting in the mix and working for it. When he doesn’t do this, we struggle, plain and simple.

Willie Coyote ,

I’ve always thought that a person needed to consistently say something before you could conclude anything in particular about their attitude or perspective. But the way those two statements were delivered definitely caught my attention!

It does indeed seem like Joe is saying that the team relies on Josh for a number of things. Remember when the team relied on Joe all the time for many of those things? We still rely on him as the most consistent and effective perimeter defender. We have relied on him as the best and most consistent scorer. We’ve relied on him as a rebounder. As a facilitator of the offense. So many things we’ve piled on one guy, which determined wins and losses for us. Now some of that torch has been passed to Josh.

How many times have we seen Mike Woodson refer to Josh as a guy who cleans up a lot of the team’s mistakes on defense? Now we hear the same thing from Larry Drew. It seems like a compliment, but to me it’s a condemning statement. You can read that and hear “Josh is great, he blocks shots, alters shots, and gets steals.” Or…you can hear “we screw up on defense a lot, and if it weren’t for Josh out there making up for it, we’d be screwed.” I think I’m hearing both. And that disturbs me. All too often, I’ve noticed (and so have both sports writers and commentators alike) that teams go right at us when Josh isn’t in the game. How does that make you feel about this team as a whole? At this point, it’s not about what Josh does well, or how often he does it (though that is a concern, because we struggle like hell when he’s not playing his game). Anytime you are focused on what a single player is doing to win or lose a game, you’re not seeing the issue with the team as a whole.

Big Ray

December 1st, 2010
10:18 am

Vava ,

I understand and agree with everything you are saying about Josh’s issues and what he needs to do to improve himself. And you’re right, appreciating his talents and skills should not cloud the fact that he has some problems that can cause this team major problems. I also think that Josh’s issues should not cloud the fact that this team has far more problems than just him. I have to say that I’m amused at the perspectives on Josh sometimes. To hear some people tell it, he’s what makes or breaks the team on many nights. Very strange, when we’re paying Joe Johnson literally TWICE as much money.

O'Brien

December 1st, 2010
10:19 am

Josh’s ability, talent, hustle, work ethic and passion says nothing about him being leadership material.

The bottom line is, when the team is not playing well, Josh tends to hang his head, and pouts. And that affects his play sometimes.

JJ talks a good game, but leadership is not his style either. He is very professional, very soft-spoken, and goes about his job the best way he knows how. He leads by example.

IMO, Al is the only natural leader on this team. He is still young, and is still learning, but he has leadership qualities that Josh and JJ dont have. Which is why I think LD shouyld have names 1 team captain.

For the last 2 years under Woody, the players always knew what went wrong, or what they need to work on. But they went out and made the same mistakes anyway.

I see the same thing happening with LD. Players can talk all they want about adversity and mental toughness, but until they show it consistently on the court against good teams, most fans will not take them seriously.

Big Ray

December 1st, 2010
10:25 am

AJ ,

True. And they probably aren’t responding to anything he says, either. The quotes are very telling all the same. Can’t recall how many of them have the same theme: “When he plays like this, we’re hard to stop.”

Sounds to me like the Hawks never stop pointing fingers. Are the other guys saying that everybody is doing what they are supposed to do, but Josh isn’t half the time? I think anyone would be quite hard-pressed to prove that one. That’s why I pointed out the difference in what Joe said vs. what Al said. Al seems to recognize what Josh does, but also recognizes that the entire team should give the type of effort that he gives most of the time. Notice I said give the type of effort that Josh is giving most of the time.

The better teams in the league may talk about a single player on their team needing to step his game up. But they tend to also say that “we’ll get it done without him.” I don’t see that mentality with the Hawks for the most part, and that really bothers me. Seems to me that if JJ or Jamal can’t get it going, we’ve wailed about how hard it is to score when they’re not there (a loser’s mentality). When Josh isn’t in the game, there is a general wailing about defense.

Where, oh where is the “we don’t have this person or this person isn’t getting it done, but let’s get to work anyway” attitude? Doesn’t exist. And we would be hard pressed to find a bundle of those kinds of statements from players, Al Horford being one of the few exceptions, if any.

Big Ray

December 1st, 2010
10:26 am

And there it is.

Co-sign O’brien at 10:19 a.m.

Big Ray

December 1st, 2010
10:33 am

O’brien ,

I think the lack of leadership also comes with another problem. Can these guys even follow a leader? They don’t all seem to have what it takes to get their own jobs done on their own . I agree that naming a single captain or at least co-captains that mesh well together was a better way to go. I thought Mike Bibby would have done well alongside Horford, but that’s just me. Bibby has experience and is a pro, and has played like one this season.

But back to the original topic. Can these guys follow a leader? Josh is hard-headed. No way around that. Joe has been captain and top dog for too long. Others seem ready enough to fall into place, but there has not been any clear leadership for this group since the beginning. They don’t always listen to the coach, and they don’t always listen to each other. But they are good at pointing fingers. Every time I see a quote, I start looking for the finger. Seriously. Maybe I’m getting too cynical…

Big Ray

December 1st, 2010
10:40 am

AJ ,

I see your point from last blog about resting JJ tonight. We don’t just lose his scoring ability, of course. We lose the bulk of our perimeter defense, meaning that our best hope of aggressive perimeter D has only two real sources – Mo Evans and Jeff Teague. Now ever time I see that Geico commercial where R. Lee Ermey plays the part of the psychiatrist who yells at the patient, I think of Jeff Teague. LOL….I know, that’s not cool, but maybe Teague will read this and get mad, in which case we may get a good game out of him.

Yep, I can hear the old Marine Corps drill sergeant on the Geico commercial right now…

“Well maybe we can march off to mamby pamby land and find some self confidence for you, ya jack wagon!”

Anyway, that’s what we lose when JJ is out, not to mention rebounding. Now, Mike Bibby will give the effort and have some effect, but he’s just not physically capable of everything we need. Jamal is even less so (naturally). I say we try to make it a big night for Al and Josh, hope the bench comes through like they did in the first game against Memphis, and hope Marvin shows up tonight. Geez, will ya listen to me? I’m talking about a 53 win team going against a perennial Western doormat. Or am I?

niremetal

December 1st, 2010
10:53 am

Vava,

I gotta say, I think both you and Ramon are off-base, though in different ways. Ramon, Rodman was an excellent rebounder and a hard-nosed defender, and he knew his limitations as a player. Like Vava said, he rarely took bad shots or gambled on passes, and he certainly did care about winning.

But vava…he was one of the dumbest players ever to hit a basketball court, not one of the smartest. He also occasionally did decide to just stop playing, though typically only when his team was way ahead or hopelessly behind (everyone remembers his hands-in-his-pants bit with the Mavs). Pippen and Jordan both felt, though, that Rodman spent too much time worrying about himself and not enough about how his actions affected the team. They called him out in the media occasionally on that basis. If you haven’t, read “Second Coming” by Sam Smith or “Playing for Keeps” by David Halberstam. For one of the more restrained MJ responses to Rodman’s antics, just read this blurb:

http://articles.latimes.com/1996-03-17/sports/sp-48148_1_dennis-rodman

“If he feels he is being singled out, he has to walk the line,” Jordan said. “Maybe this was an outburst we needed. Maybe he has to be concerned with focusing on the game rather than how he is being perceived.”

Astro Joe

December 1st, 2010
10:54 am

Ray, I guess I’m missing something. I think when players are absent, they have the mindset of “we need to get it done”. But when they are playing, the notion is that they do their job. Joe is missing shots, I don’t expect to hear “we’ll score while Joe gets his ish together”, I want those guys to expect Joe to perform if he is playing. Of course, teammates have to pick each other up when they slump… since every player will ultimately hit a bump in the road. But I guess I’m okay if they don’t verbally let a teammate off the hook.

The good news about all of the effort/energy talk is that those are controllable variables that aren’t influenced by competition or strategies. A zone defense shouldn’t influence energy nor should the use of a pick & roll play vs. a motion offense. At the same time, energy doesn’t address execution. Joe or Jamal breaking from plays is execution. Josh not closing out on perimeter shooting PFs is execution. Marvin (and Teague) deferring is execution. Horford picking up silly fouls while slapping at the ball 20 feet from the basket is execution. The entire team getting jump-shot happy is execution. I guess I still see too many mental errors to get too caught up in hustle.

niremetal

December 1st, 2010
10:57 am

Co-sign O’B at 10:19.

Astro Joe

December 1st, 2010
10:59 am

Oh and I forgot my all-time favorite peeve about the Hawks… failing to set a screen without being called for an offensive foul or moving screen violation is most certainly an ongoing execution problem… not related to hustle or effort. I’d like to see guys talk about focusing on the finer details and not just relying on a 5-Hour Energy drink to solve their issues.

vava74

December 1st, 2010
11:12 am

nire,

we will have to disagree on this one.

there are several reports (including from the zen master himself) stating that Rodman learned offensive and defensive schemes overnight and effortlessly, including ALL the intricacies of the triangle offense.

That knowledge of the offensive schemes allowed him to know exactly when and from where shots were probably coming in order to better position himself for a rebound.

his rebounding technique had a vast intellectual component.

sure, he was a loony and sometimes that carried to the court with bizarre and unexplainable behaviors however that has always been amplified by people’s perception of Rodman and not what he brought day in day out on the court.

vava74

December 1st, 2010
11:16 am

the bottom line is, Rodman brought it 99 out of 100 times but people focused on that 1 time in which he did not bring it because he was an easy target.

vava74

December 1st, 2010
11:18 am

Astro,

I’m with you (gulp) on that one.

We are pitiful setting AND using screens.

However, there is a reason for this, we have not been playing with PG quick enough for picks to work… people simply go around around the pick and reach the defensive spot before Bibby gets there with the rock…

Astro Joe

December 1st, 2010
11:46 am

vava, it ain’t a Bibby issue, I see the problem with Jamal, Joe, Teague, Flip and any other guard who tries to use a screen for either pick & roll purposes or simply to turn the corner and get into the paint.

O'Brien

December 1st, 2010
1:01 pm

From MC’s most recent blog;

“It seems there is some merit to the idea that J.J. is slumping. (He’s questionable to play against the Grizzlies due to a sore elbow that apparently has nothing to do with his shooting slump but developed overnight Monday.)” MC .

So we may not see JJ after all.

Big Ray,

Memphis beat the Lakers last night, so doormat or not, Hawks better be ready.

doc

December 1st, 2010
1:05 pm

nice ray. i thought jj was going to change his ways and be more of a “i got to do it every night andf when we dont we suffer” type of guy as he actually came close to that. now he is again deferring to what the other guys have to do to win consistently rather than him. yes, i agree and i hear the difference or can read between the lines of al and jj.

rodman did roids real well as he turned from worm to hulk overnight. not sure he would have lasted as long if he didnt.

Astro Joe

December 1st, 2010
1:07 pm

From MC’s most recent article:

The Suns, Bucks, Jazz, Mavericks and Celtics have won at Philips Arena. The combined record of those teams entering Tuesday was 53-34, and only Milwaukee has a losing record.

Atlanta has won at Memphis, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Minnesota, Indiana, New York and Toronto. The combined record of those teams was 45-72, with Indiana the lone team to post a winning record.

Let’s pick off the Grizzlies and 76ers and get to the good stuff… Miami and Orlando. Maybe the Hawks can send Coach Spo packing.

O'Brien

December 1st, 2010
1:07 pm

“I say we try to make it a big night for Al and Josh, hope the bench comes through like they did in the first game against Memphis, and hope Marvin shows up tonight.” Big Ray .

In the first game, Zach Randolph and Gasol did not play, so that helped the bench (especially ZaZa) to go off.

I posted this on the other blog earlier, but have you guys seen ZaZa lately? Good gosh…

In the last 9 games, he has played 113 minutes total, and has a total of 22 points, and 22 rebounds. Wow.

http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/gamelog?playerId=2016/

Big Ray

December 1st, 2010
1:17 pm

O’brien ,

I purposely left out the whole bit about Gasol and Randolph not playing. I figured somebody would catch it, but what the heck. We can beat them even if those guys ARE playing. But not the way we’re playing right now. And yeah, the Grizzlies’ record makes them a doormat. I didn’t say that wouldn’t mean we had to take them serious. If anything, that emphasizes my point. The Nets are a doormat, too. But we lost to them, didn’t we?

AJ ,

Missing something? No, that was not what I was implying. If anything, the team is missing something. Effort has to be there, and so does execution. I don’t see how hustle and execution exist separately. Either you make the effort to set a properly executed screen, or you don’t. Either you take the easy way out with a shot instead of making the extra pass, or you don’t. Effort and execution work together. The way I see it, leadership is maintaining a higher level of focus on both effort and execution regardless of what is going on. In other words, when the effort isn’t enough, or the opposing team’s execution is better than yours (let’s face it, sometimes the shots don’t fall, and the other team’s defense is better than your offense, or vice versa), and you find a way to compete and win anyway.

We can talk execution all day long, and mental errors. Are mental errors causing Joe Johnson to have a low point in his career right now? Speaking of which, I see everybody else has seen MC’s article on that very subject.

Big Ray

December 1st, 2010
1:20 pm

AJ ,

LOL….I’m thinking the South Beach Posse is going to send Coach Spo packing. And the funny part? They don’t know just how badly they DO NOT want that to happen. They’ve got it easy with him. Only Wade knows how things would be if Riles comes back to the sideline. Bosh and LeQueen have NO IDEA.

Doc ,

I haven’t seen one bit of that from JJ this year. Whatever happened to becoming an elite player? I know it looks like I’m kicking the man while he’s down, but that’s not how it is. Funny….some would have you believe his hand hurts, and that’s the problem. Ok, I believe his hand hurts. Same people refused to hear anything about Smith’s recovery from a high ankle sprain, and how quickly he came back from the injury (too soon, I thought).

Strange, not one mention of his hand in MC’s article. Gee, I guess it’s a slump, huh?

Big Ray

December 1st, 2010
1:26 pm

However, there is a reason for this, we have not been playing with PG quick enough for picks to work… people simply go around around the pick and reach the defensive spot before Bibby gets there with the rock

I disagree. Bibby can shoot behind a screen. Teague is quick enough to do anything off a screen, but his jumper stinks, and so does his confidence in shooting. Enter Jordan Crawford….who needs no screen.

As for Bibby, I realize he’s a favorite target of yours, but we’re talking about somebody who runs the screen and roll far better than anybody on the team, and that includes the one-handed Joe Johnson. The defender “gets there” in time because we don’t set solid screens.

Like AJ said, we’re usually moving when we set screens. Even Horford does it. We set fake screens where the screener acts like he fully expects to get the ball. Because of this, the screener never stops long enough to ACTUALLY SET THE FREAKIN’ SCREEN. The lone exception? Zaza Pachulia. And when that happens, and he realizes the defender fought through the screen, he moves back into position and tries it again….voila….moving screen violation. Meanwhile, the other guys are slipping by with a faux pas screen, and Bibby is left standing there to either take a contested shot or pass it off to a guy who wants it, but isn’t open.

The best guy at doing these “slip screens” , oddly enough?Josh Smith. He gets to the basket off a fake screen quicker than anybody on the team. Funny, ain’t it? Life is a series of trade-offs and comedic errors. Try as you might to pick at certain people, they just aren’t always the problem.

yodaddy

December 1st, 2010
2:09 pm

Way off base with Josh Smith.

Josh Smith is basically the Atlanta Hawks. Josh Smith, Horford, and Bibby are the only consistency we have. Josh Smith plays hard 98% of the time…his effort is never the issue. He may occasionally lapse but so does anybody not named Kobe Bryant and even Kobe used to sulk in his younger days.

Josh Smith is 24 years old. Now he wears the C on his chest and his play has elevated with that…better statistically everywhere except PPG. No one else in the league has his stat filling skill set.

Josh is easily the best player on the team (how can you give that to Al Horford???) and he’s really not a trouble maker at all. There are different types of leaders and Josh Smith leads through action. The reason everyone feeds off of Josh is because he’s the best player and never gets enough credit for his contributions. This guy should have been an All Star two years ago.

Joe Johnson is the one that needs to step it up. He’s the most non-emotional stone face player I’ve ever seen. Can he crack a smile every now and then, jump for joy, hype the crowd, clap his hands on defense, beat on his chest, give a fist pump??? Can he show any type of emotional attachment to the game? Show any intensity whatsoever? Barrel through a pick just to make an example, get a technical foul…..trash talk…show some personality….DO ANYTHING

I just want him to get excited about something or get mad. When Kobe is upset he is visibly upset…The Hawks could be down by 20 or up 20 and Joe has that same look on his face.

That’s the real reason people don’t show up to the games. Atlanta is not a blue collar town. You don’t just come to work, you come to work with style and flash. That’s why Jamal is a fan favorite…that’s why everybody wanted Shaq, that’s why Josh Smith is a hero to the Hawks.

With all that said the main problem for the team lies on the defensive end. We can fill it up on offense but we need a total team effort on defense and that’s where the inconsistencies come into play. That’s where 6 years of conditioning to play that way can’t be erased in 20 games. Maybe the rebounds are down because the other teams shoot a high percentage against the Hawks…not because they aren’t trying to rebound.

Astro Joe

December 1st, 2010
2:16 pm

Ray, I heard a rumor the other day that Riley may not coach them this season because he isn’t convinced that they can win a title (this season). So we may see an interim coach to baby-sit them for the last few months. Maybe Woody will get a call :twisted:

No doubt, both energy and execution are needed to do “something special”… I guess I’m just exhausted with the energy/effort mantra from the past 3-4 years. That maybe what is needed to be a 50-win team but it’s not what is needed to reach unprecedented levels. I feel we’re still stuck in a Basketball 201 class and we should have advanced way beyond that at this point. Whether it’s LD asking “what are the players doing the night before games” or the age-old statements about “starting the game kind of flat”, we’ve heard all of this for 3+ years. Take a Red Bull during pre-game warm-ups, chase it witha 5-Hour Energy drink and then replace the Gatorade with Mountain Dew and let’s end that blabber once and for all. Time to set the sites beyond maintaining the status quo… right?

Astro Joe

December 1st, 2010
2:21 pm

I love it when someone demands that we accept Josh for being the player/person he is and then in the same breath asks Joe to transform himself into a cross between Reggie Miller and Johnny Cochran. Josh is Josh and Joe is Joe. Josh isn’t going to play in a stoic manner and Joe isn’t going to play emotionally.

Astro Joe

December 1st, 2010
2:26 pm

OB, Zaza and Teague are both convinced that the Boogeyman is going to attack them from a corner of the arena. That is why they both are playing about the same under LD as they did under Lucifer. Because it has NOTHING to do with their individual abilities, attitude or preparation. Either that or Lucifer is playing with his Zaza and Teague voodoo dolls again.

Astro Joe

December 1st, 2010
3:59 pm

Shout out to Dwight Howard for his clever press conference last night. I love it when these guys show that they are sports fans… his satire of the nonsense with the Cardinals QB was pretty cool.

Meanwhile, our players seem to have the collective personality of a bowl of vanilla ice cream… a bowl that sometimes lacks energy.

O'Brien

December 1st, 2010
5:29 pm

AJ,

I dont know what to make of ZaZa and Teague. It has been my belief that with enough PT, patience and proper coaching, they would improve.

But so far, we havent seen enough improvement from them, and not surprisingly, LD has cut their minutes.

It will be interesting to see how LD handles the bench on the road during our tough Decemebr schedule. Will they leave us “dead in the water” again?

Ray

December 1st, 2010
6:34 pm

One thing I can honestly say about Josh Smith I’m glad he didn’t turn out like Lebron James like for real. Looking at how that all went down Josh could have done us the same way you know. I know what you’re probably going to say “Josh isn’t Leborn talent wise” or something like that.

Still I’m just glad of that, but back onto the topic.

If you wanted to pick a captain and you looked at this team I’m picking Mike Bibby first. You can say all you want about how Steve Nash, Rajon Rondo, Deron Williams, CP3 > Mike Bibby all day and night, but the guy has been playing with his heart out there.

If SVG(Stan Van Gundy) had someone like him on the team he would have reinforced the quote “leave it all on the floor” every night. Which is what MB does for us so far truth be told sometimes it seems like he’s younger certain games with the way he plays.

As for Al well he’s Al he’s good in my book.

Josh Smith leads by action and example not by words. When he plays with a chip on his shoulder this team really does go places you almost wonder if he did this against Orlando some nights would we even be having these conversations. I almost think we’d just be talking about how Marvin and JT need to go(I don’t think JT needs to go, but Marvin still does).

Joe…………………………………….Joe……………………………..Joe……………..Joe I don’t know about Joe. The guy is struggling very badly I’m almost certain it’s not the injury anymore I think it has to do with the fact he’s not alpha dog anymore. Thanks to Jamal Crawford, Al Horford, and Josh Smith taken over. Which makes you really wonder why we even gave him $120 million dollars. He’s shown willings to pass, but that’s about it. He’s very inconsistent this year which is sad. Thought he’d make that huge paycheck worthwhile, but it’s looking like a total waste so far.

niremetal

December 1st, 2010
7:01 pm

*ding*

Joe out for tonight due to his injury.

O'Brien

December 1st, 2010
7:18 pm

Wow. JJ will miss 4-6 weeks.

We were virtually injury free last year, so I’m not surprised the injury bug is taking a big bite out of us.

niremetal

December 1st, 2010
7:20 pm

O’Brien, link?

O'Brien

December 1st, 2010
7:25 pm

nire,

no link. During the game on Sportssouth, Jerome Jurenevich reported it.

He said (The Dr. Andrews) will be performing some surgery to remove some kind of dead skin

niremetal

December 1st, 2010
7:29 pm

I’ve got it on Triche’s twitter:
http://twitter.com/#!/ATWhoDat

Well, we’ll see. At least it’s an arthroscopy. Assuming there’s no ligament damage, he should be no worse for the wear after the skin scars heal.

O'Brien

December 1st, 2010
7:32 pm

I like what I’ve seen from Marvin so far. He is on his way to a third straight good game.

Has he ever had 3 straight good games?

niremetal

December 1st, 2010
7:34 pm

Wow, an official time out with one tenth of a second left in the quarter. Never seen that before :shock:

O’Brien, is that sarcasm or have you seriously forgotten ‘07-’08 and ‘08-’09?

Melvin

December 1st, 2010
7:39 pm

Good play by Teague and Marvin in the 1st qrt. Teague will not allow Conley to get anyway near the paint…

Melvin

December 1st, 2010
7:40 pm

3 fouls on Gay. Get him out of there.

Melvin

December 1st, 2010
7:47 pm

For some strange (and surprising) reason, the offense looks better with the ball in Teague hands tonight…