Are you thinking what I’m thinking? If it’s “here we go again,” then we’re thinking the same thing.
Another fourth quarter collapse. Another quick point guard doing the Hawks in. Another set of typical quotes from two of the team’s captains. Another vein of frustration popping out of the coach’s forehead. Perspectives from AL, Larry, and Joe are becoming the norm these days. But that is not the problem at all. The problem is that those perspectives haven’t changed one bit, because the situation has not changed.
That’s why management preaches. That’s not what you’re hearing from Head Coach Larry Drew, though. No, what we’re hearing from him is long-suffering. There is a fundamental difference between the two. Patience is realizing that a non-lottery draft pick might need a bit more work than a lottery draft pick. Patience is understanding that a new offensive philosophy or a new rotation player added to the mix takes some time to develop. Patience is doing the best you can as a team while waiting for injured starters to heal.
Patience is not making the same exact mistakes again and again, despite the fact that you should know by now (after 2 or 3 years) what will cause you to lose the lead in a game. Why is shot selection still an issue?
The Usual Suspects, The Usual Results
Joe Johnson is the best player on this team and the guy you want to have the ball in the worst situations. How does he end up taking only two more shots than the team’s sixth man, and seven less shots than the team’s worst perimeter shooting starter? You can criticize Joe for taking too many jumpers if you choose. But the fact is, Joe is a shooter and scorer. You WANT him to shoot.
Jamal Crawford is a streak shooter. Either he’s good, or he’s bad. There is little middle ground with Jamal. Do you want him to shoot? Yes. It’s what he does. But you have to understand that shoot is what he’s going to do, whether he’s on or not. On the other end of the floor, there is nothing to balance things out, plain and simple. The good news is that Jamal does know how to get to the line.
Now for the self-made whipping boy, Josh Smith. Josh has gotten to where he can make shots from the outside. The problem is that in his mind, can is the same as will. Smith’s early season perimeter success has eroded on a near day-to-day basis, and I truly believe that much of this has to do with him trying to establish his offense outside first, instead of inside. The problem with this is that it’s the exact opposite of what his coach has been trying to tell him. And there it is – Josh not listening again. Still. When will this change? Will it change?
Rick Sund says the Hawks like their core, and that they are going to be patient with the team. But when is patience no longer a virtue? How long can the Hawks afford to stay with the status quo? We’re not talking about making random changes here. We’re talking about fixing actual problems. When do the excuses run out? How long is ownership and management going to take an “Oh, it will be fine” stance?
Maybe Sund should start taking note of the things some of his most valued players are saying. Maybe he should pay attention to the words coming from the mouth of the very man he “hired” to change that which has not changed. Sooner or later this will be simply too much. Sooner or later regression takes hold for good, until something significant is done. The Hawks keep saying it can happen from within, but can it? They say they’re aware of the main problem. A couple of wins go by and all is somewhat good. Then the inevitable happens and it’s back to the same quotes, the same hanging heads, the same shrugging shoulders.
Perhaps Al Horford said it best :
“I guess when it gets to a point where it hurts you and really bothers you, then you do something about it. I don’t know that we’re there as a team yet.”
Does it hurt the team enough yet, or have they passed the point of where they are collectively aware (translation: are there guys who simply don’t care enough)? How about management? Are there enough guys on the floor to fix the situation, or does the fix have to come from higher? More than ever, it seems that this questions leans harder towards the latter, rather than the former.
Flip Side of the Coin
Not all is gloom and doom. At the very least, the Hawks have gotten past the injury bug for the moment. Al Horford looked like he didn’t miss a beat against Milwaukee, hitting 7 of 9 shots and adding another nice double double to his collection. Meanwhile, Marvin looked rather effective coming off the bench. This is certainly good news for a Hawks team that may need to experiment a bit more to find the best possible chemistry that it can, seeing as how the schedule will only get tougher.