Atlanta hawks: Is disarray here to stay?

A tale of three team captains 

When the Hawks lose, you can ask Joe Johnson what happened. He is likely to tell you he doesn’t know. You can ask Al Horford. He’ll likely tell you what the problem was, and all but name who was responsible for it. You can also ask Josh Smith. He’ll tell you that the team will get their heads together, they are a tight knit group, and everything will be okay. Is any of this confidence inspiring? Why are they all saying different things?

Let us get one thing out on the table, and it is something that some of you/us have already been saying since the beginning of the season. It was a mistake for Larry Drew to name three team captains. Or do you disagree? Let’s extend that even further – it was a mistake to name Josh Smith as a team captain. Perhaps you disagree more vehemently with this than the first assertion. Perhaps not. Either way, can anybody prove this was a successful venture or even a good idea? These three team captains don’t think alike. They don’t play alike. They don’t react alike. In fact, I’m feeling a bit hard-pressed to come up with something that they have in common at all. It seems that Larry Drew tried to force this team into forming its own locker room and on-court leadership. But his idea of putting three guys into such a position resulted in what looks like more confusion, which has done nothing to increase leadership. Three guys, one position. One seems like he never really felt destined to be a leader, and maybe he should have had that burden thrown on him. Another doesn’t know how to follow, so how can he lead? The third can’t lead if others won’t follow. How was this supposed to work again?

From the Sidelines

Mike Woodson’s tactics, leadership, and his overall body of work was questioned, and it led to him parting ways with the Hawks. General Manager Rick Sund then proclaimed that the Hawks needed to “hear a different voice.” So, he brought them (perhaps at the behest of his host of bosses) a familiar voice and placed that voice in the big chair. Perhaps the results have spoken for themselves. You hear a familiar but previously quiet voice saying the same things the old voice used to say. It seems the “different” voice begins to show signs of strain and frustration. The different voice seems to have given in. The different voice doesn’t know what to do. The different voice screams accountability, but can’t follow through. The different voice…doesn’t seem so different after all. Of course, its not just about the voice.

Here is where one of Larry Drew’s biggest problems may be brewing: with Josh Smith. We used to not like it when Mike Woodson and Josh Smith got after each other. But, at least Woody got after him. And, Josh got after Woody. It wasn’t good. Josh doesn’t get after Drew. Why? Maybe because Drew doesn’t get after him.  Drew has  agreed to disagree with his team captain on how to play the game. Worse, he’s made this known through public quotes. How in the world can you get an entire team to listen to you when one of the team captains is allowed to disagree with you and do what he wants to do? That’s not to say that Josh isn’t a good player, or even a good person. He has shown more maturity (or at least it seems like it) in most areas, and has put up some pretty good numbers. But….can a team operate like this, when one of its best players is constantly at odds with the head coach on such basic things as when to take certain shots or when to let the point guard run the break?

Let me put this another way – if you can’t convince a team captain not to take long jumpers at the wrong times, then how can you convince the rest of the team to not do so? Just watch the games. See how many long jumpers are being taken, regardless of how unsuccessful that venture turns out to be. Then watch how many times Larry Drew talks about taking too many long jumpers after a loss. And, it’s not just Josh Smith by a long shot. It’s a bunch of guys. Unfortunately, Josh is a team captain, which puts things in a slightly different light.

This isn’t the only problem. Maybe this isn’t really a big problem. Maybe it is. What do you think?

Breaking in the new guys

The arrival of Kirk Hinrich really helped Atlanta on the defensive end, but as scores and fourth quarter numbers have indicated, that’s not all there is to the story. The problem with the offense is that this is where the leadership of this team (or lack thereof) really suffers. A guy like Hinrich knows how to play the game. How long before he becomes frustrated with the way the Hawks play? Everybody within the organization and the fan base can talk about Hinrich’s leadership and toughness until they are blue in the face. It won’t matter. Why? Because we have three team captains already. How is a guy like Hinrich to have a positive effect when all he can do is try to lead by example (something we’ve recognized as a good but incomplete form of leadership)? Can Hinrich even say anything in the locker room? Who will listen?

On the flip side of the coin, Hilton Armstrong has it easier than his backcourt teammate. All he has to do is provide energy, defend the rim and the paint, and grab some rebounds. Maybe even set some screens on offense and be ready to score at the rim if he actually receives the ball. Of course, Armstrong can’t be certain of his role, as neither can Zaza Pachulia (who is very playing-time sensitive) or Jason Collins. Drew doesn’t seem to know what he wants to do with his bench or his frontcourt some days.

More confusion, more disarray. 

If Larry Drew and the Hawks aren’t careful, they’ll stunt their own internal growth.

The Final Word….

……comes from General Manager Rick Sund. The normally quiet Sund stated before the deadline that the onus was on this team to prove who they were and what they were capable of. He said that this team would show itself and be judged on what they did through the final stretch of the season, and in the playoffs. By saying this, Sund also put the burden on himself and his bosses. After all, if the proof is in what this team does, and the team falls below expectations, or simply last year’s accomplishments, then who else can be responsible for the final product?

Sund says this core is at the witness stand. He’s right. And after they testify, he’ll be going to the stand next. This summer, in fact.

Call it Now

Hope springs eternal, but its not the offseason yet. Forget gaining ground for now, can the Hawks even maintain their current position? Is this just a late season rut, or is the writing on the wall? If patterns hold where they are, the Hawks face the Magic in round 1 of the playoffs? Can they survive that?

Your call…

 

Big Ray, Hawks Fan Nest

286 comments Add your comment

vava74

March 8th, 2011
8:51 pm

Zaza got 65 second last game. Tonight he plays.

Hilton got some burn last game. Tonight no minutes.

lukas

March 8th, 2011
8:53 pm

Agree with Vava. Al will finish with nice stats, but the truth is that he is scare to go down low.

vava74

March 8th, 2011
9:00 pm

Al showed the “Nowitski” there.

It would be nice if he introduced that to his game.

JJ started 4-5. He is 0-6 since. WTF is happening???

Ray

March 8th, 2011
9:00 pm

Yeah I think all those DNP for certain players beginning to bite back at L.D plus not giving certain players enough burn. I honestly think our bench could be better if they just got some extra burn especially against teams like the kings win or lose it would have helped us and probably help avoid horrible games like these.

vava74

March 8th, 2011
9:05 pm

stupid teams go for the homerun (3 pointer) to cut leads when the momentum is shifting.

smart teams go to the rack and either get the easy 2 or the FTs.

O'Brien

March 8th, 2011
9:10 pm

Note to LD. Hawks made their run mostly when Jamal was NOT in the game.

vava,

I think its all about mindset with this team. Guys are soft and perimeter oriented. Al timid, Josh will pass up a shot in the paint, only to pass the ball to a jump shooter by the 3-pt line.

O'Brien

March 8th, 2011
9:12 pm

What’s up with JJ? Another bad night for him. is he still hurt? We need more from our max player!

vava74

March 8th, 2011
9:13 pm

OB,

If there was a game which required LD to use the big line up it was tonight.

With Collins, Zaza and Hilton, leaving Al to play Gasol which is a much better match up.

vava74

March 8th, 2011
9:16 pm

JJ is struggling mightily and I think that part of it is mental.

This last 3 he missed, he thought too much.

O'Brien

March 8th, 2011
9:16 pm

Meanwhile, JJ goes 1-5 from 3, and Jamal goes 1-5 from 3, Hinrich goes 1-4 from 3.

Those are the numbers LD needs to talk about. Its not all about transition points.

Sautee

March 8th, 2011
9:20 pm

Big Ray,

Is disarray here to stay?

At least until Friday.

O'Brien

March 8th, 2011
9:22 pm

lakers…12 three point attempts (5 makes).

Hawks…22 three point attempts (7 makes).

And now we go play Chicago, who has te best record in the East. Ouch

Melvin

March 8th, 2011
9:22 pm

Hawks didnt play that bad tonight. They got beat by a better team. I would have prefer that LD use the big lineup tonight. Gasol/Bynum were just too big for us tonight….

vava74

March 8th, 2011
9:26 pm

we were in the game until Jamal go in.

immediately upon his entry the Lakers scored 6 unanswered points and we had to play catch up.

the myth that our bench sucks is just a myth. all benches – in general – are worse than the starters, the issue is how to use it to maximize it.

our bench got us back into the game with Zaza and Damien playing well.

Given the Lakers line up, with Gasol and Bynum and then Odom coming off the bench, our best strategy, IMO, would have been to go big and have Marvin come in to check on Odom when he got in.

Instead, we went small to start with and then even smaller with Jamal coming in for Marvin!!!

vava74

March 8th, 2011
9:29 pm

“O’Brien
March 8th, 2011
9:16 pm
Meanwhile, JJ goes 1-5 from 3, and Jamal goes 1-5 from 3, Hinrich goes 1-4 from 3.
Those are the numbers LD needs to talk about. Its not all about transition points.”

OB,

And who comes into the game and jacks up 3 pointers as his MO?

The team plays down to Jamal’s level.

Melvin

March 8th, 2011
9:30 pm

Vava,

Your Jamal bashing has no limits…LOL

vava74

March 8th, 2011
9:32 pm

Melvin,

No, it doesn’t.

Jamal is a huge part of our problem.

vava74

March 8th, 2011
9:35 pm

Jordan Crawford unleashed his dog tonight doing his best Jamal impersonation for good and for the bad:

J. Crawford(notes) 26:35 FG9-17 3FG1-5 FT3-3 -22 oreb1 Treb4 ass3 to 5 stl2 blk0 BA0 PF0 PTS22

vava74

March 8th, 2011
9:38 pm

small potential for a little solace… the Heat are down by 8 with 7min to go and Wallace is at the line for a possible +1

vava74

March 8th, 2011
9:39 pm

calling Bill Laimbeer… calling Bill Laimbeer…

O'Brien

March 8th, 2011
9:48 pm

I meant Bulls have the best home record in the East (27-4).

Typical LD, going offense for defense, when he was asked why he went with the regular lineup instead of Twin. He said, the regular lineup scores more points.

vava74

March 8th, 2011
9:58 pm

After tonight I am no longer even residually optimistic.

Disarray is not the word. Jamalitis is.

What would I do? Start Zaza and ride him if he is playing any good or take him out if after 2 minutes he is looking bad. This way we can try to extract the most out of his good nights.

Obviously reduce Jamal’s minutes to a bare minimum.

Use Wilkins to sub JJ. Give minutes to Teague (I don’t care how bad he looked).

And always keep 2 starters of the main 4 (Hinrich, JJ, Josh, Al) on the floor.

Use Marvin to sub both Josh and Al at the PF slot.

Melvin

March 8th, 2011
9:58 pm

Can we expedite the sell of this franchise. I hope the new owner(s) get rid of all the front personnel when/if they take control. I do not trust this front office to make any offseason moves this summer…

vava74

March 8th, 2011
10:01 pm

At least the heat lost again, so we will go under the radar.

OB,

I was all for LD base on his words. The simple truth is that he is lost and should be canned pronto. Let Conner finish the season, heck, let the cleaning lady do it.

O'Brien

March 8th, 2011
10:09 pm

At least Miami lost.

And dont look now, but the Hawks are 2 games in front of the Knicks (in the loss column), and 3 games in front of the Sixers (in the loss column).

We could easily end up in 7th (although whether or not thats a bad thing is debatable).

E43

March 8th, 2011
10:24 pm

Im blaming this teams jumper happy nature on lineups. I really think that the lineups do nothing to help the cause. If LD really has a problem with jumpers then he should elect to a)use the big lineup permanently. or b)shy away from the 3 guard formation to close games. I’m just saying that if you put 4 centers on the court you probably wont see any 3 pointers or mid range shots. Right now LD is blaming it on the players when he should be forcing them into an ultimatum.

Ray

March 8th, 2011
10:25 pm

Yeah L.D was in over his head we need new coaching bloodline lol cause the old one has shown us that it isn’t going to work out.

We just need a clean sweep of the Ownership, GM, Coach, Staff(certain people), and players.

Big Ray

March 8th, 2011
11:03 pm

Big Daddy ,

Right you are. Much comes back to the GM and the coach. We shall see how that plays out this summer, because I have a sinking feeling that we’re not going to like how the postseason goes. And it may not take as many as 7 games to find that out.

O’brien ,

Your 7:50 a.m. post says it all.

fsjr ,

Oh, if only we could be several flies on the wall in a Hawks practice. Veterans and leaders talk in practice. I wonder if our guys do? I’ll never forget the training camp practice they televised last year. I know it was different because it was televised, but how different could it have been? Josh was making jokes out of everything they did, Marvin laughed from the sidelines, and Joe never said one word while going through the motions. Who talks in practice with this team?

Big Ray

March 8th, 2011
11:06 pm

Bad as it may be, I never had any doubts about the outcome. It was only a matter of how many points we lost by. The Lakers are on a mission, and we can’t hold it together for even a quarter at a time some days.

It’s a sad state of affairs when you can only take comfort in the loss of a slightly better team that is ahead of you in the standings. Miami’s failures may be our temporary salvation. Or, maybe not. Hard to say, but we can’t depend on what other teams do.

Big Ray

March 8th, 2011
11:14 pm

Sautee ,

You sound like Dr. Seuss. And that, my friend, is preferrable to any post game quotes right about now.

Observations from the game:

1) Horford looked better than just about anybody.

2) Zaza performed fairly well and led the team in rebounds.

3) Hinrich has got to be wondering if this is really any better than playing in Washington.

4) Joe underachieving….again.

5) Jamal…. ugh

6) Hilton Armstrong should play more.

7) I am really, really tired of seeing two things with Josh Smith. One is his fuming and walking back up court (instead of hustling on defense) after a call or non-call he has an issue with. Another is him forcing things by running the break. Josh running the break sometimes meets with success, but it is horribly inefficient. He is one of the deadliest finishers in the business. And one of the worst passers while in transition.

8) Damien Wilkins deserves a roster spot with us next season. He deserved one at the beginning of the season.

Najeh Davenpoop

March 8th, 2011
11:58 pm

Forget minutes — Damien has shown enough that he deserves to start over Marvin. Dump Marvin’s salary in the offseason if possible and re-up Damien for 2 years/$2 million or something of that nature and let him start. Sign some Matt Barnes-type to back him up so that the Hawks are not overly reliant on him. For a change, let’s have a key contributor on this team who actually outplays their contract.

doc

March 9th, 2011
12:06 am

big ray this team as it is playing right now is no better than the team that preceeded the coming of al horford. that is right. how bad this team has sunk in the last two months. they cant throw it in the ocean much less make a three. they cant finish at the basket either. wilkens is better than marvin, plain and simple. jj is so much the inferior player to that of three years ago. his decline is frightening.

sorry the team sucks and has no focus. it could get real ugly if they dont turn it around soon. mutiny? still we got it to 90-82 and had a good look at the three and it rimmed out, then it went the other way and we didnt sniff it frm that point on.

N.D.T.K.A.

March 9th, 2011
12:08 am

The Hawks are a dysfunctional family.

In a dysfunctional family the people at the top (re:dad and mom) have real issues or problems. Their problems, no matter how much upside or talent the kids have, will eventually be the undoing of the children thus a dysfunctional family (re: the Atlanta Hawks).

ASG, Rick Sund, and Larry Drew are dad and mom. ASG don’t make timely moves with this team, and Rick Sund can’t seem to do enough with hands tied to change the culture with the Hawks. Drew will not do what it takes to change the bad habits of this team.

Jamal Crawfords minutes needs to be limited or he should have been traded before the deadline.

Even Joe is a problem. His salary puts him in a position where he needs to speak up and take responsibility for bad play. How in the he!! can you have the highest paid player on the team not stepping up and demanding more of himself and of his teammates. Joe is a dysfunctional big brother along with Jamal.

The only way to fix a dysfunctional family is to move the children (re:Horford, Josh, Marvin, and Teague) away from the bad habits of the adults: Drew, Jamal, and Joe.

Will Joe ever step up and lead this team if not, get rid of him at all cost?

Get rid of Jamal, he does not respect Hinrich or Teague and will never defend? For all his talent this is why teams like the Knicks and Golden State traded him for little or nothing.

Drew cannot get these guys to listen. Dwayne Casey, Avery Johnson, Ty Corbin and Lawrence Franks look pretty good now.

larrykansas

March 9th, 2011
4:20 am

Remember when Marvin Williams was a freshman at North Carolina, experts were comparing him to Michael Jordan? They were saying he would be the Michael Jordan. When is this suppose to happen? What an unfair burden to put on a young man.

Big Ray

March 9th, 2011
4:37 am

“We have the luxury of having five guys that can get the ball off the board and bring it out on the dribble,” L.D. said. “I said it before and I said it again: that is where we are most effective. When Al and Josh Smith are playing with that type energy it makes us more effective. Yeah, we take a chance on coming down and them making the wrong decision. But I trust in them.”

At this point L.D. laughed a bit before continuing: “Josh has to work on it a little bit more. I was talking to him this morning. Against the Lakers [last game] he tried two lob passes that had no chance of being executed. No chance. He and I kind of chuckled about it this morning. It’s just those type plays. We have to stay in the attack mode but we have to be more selective.”

Yes, by all means. Let’s just have a laugh about that over morning coffee. After all, turnovers aren’t killing us, and we’re not scoring an all new low in points per game…..are we?

Yep. That’s what fans are supposed to get all fired up about and buy season tickets to see. A show called Cirque De Fool-Ass.

Big Ray

March 9th, 2011
4:38 am

Najeh ,

Preach it brotha, preach it.

NCBravesFan

March 9th, 2011
5:12 am

If this trend continues and the Hawks check out of the playoffs quickly, I don’t think it’s enough to blow up the roster. I don’t want LD (or Sund) back next year stirring the drink.

I have two hopes:

1. The sale of the Hawks can happen quickly.
2. New management gets the opportunity to lay fresh eyes on this mess and deal accordingly.

Samuel

March 9th, 2011
6:00 am

Iv’e been here for years and the Hawks have never been committed to winning a championship nor will they ever be. It’s just not a good sports town in terms of winning championships.

vava74

March 9th, 2011
6:29 am

We are suffering from a bad case of Jamalitis Loosenitis.

Everyone wants to jack up jump shots early in the clock and play hero basketball.

Defense is too hard and takes too much work. Let’s bury the opponents with out terrific 3 point accuracy as early in the clock as possible and with as little rebounding help as we can think of.

Even Hinrich went for it with that missed 3 that “would have put us only 5 points down”.

What is the freaking problem with trying to be 6 points down instead of 5 for crying out loud?

vava74

March 9th, 2011
6:40 am

Jamal’s first stint, spanning last 4.40 of the first and the first half of the second quarter: (minus) -10

http://popcornmachine.net/cgi-bin/gameflow.cgi?date=20110308&game=LALATL

That is when the game went away from us.

vava74

March 9th, 2011
6:48 am

The 3 bench players who usually play D and rebound (Zaza sometimes does play D and rebound well like yesterday), posted positive ± numbers.

Marvin and Hinrich, who both play D, had relatively small ± negative numbers (Hinrich -6 on 32 minutes and Williams -8 on 23 minutes).

Al was over matched on both ends (in spite of good numbers) and JJ sucked big time because his shot went away from him after starting 4-5.

Jamal compensated with a good second stint and Josh was so so.

The ± stat may not be reliable but it helps a bit (like all stats).

O'Brien

March 9th, 2011
7:52 am

I wont say Damien is better than Marvin. But when you compare his (prorated) vet min salary to Marvin’s $7.5 mil, he is great value for the money (marvin isn’t), and Damien should be an automatic invite to training camp this offseason with a contract.

Al played ok, but his mentality against Bynum and Howard are handicapping him. He does not play aggressive enough against these guys, and he is quick to settle for jumpers.

JJ needs to find a hot-tub time machine, because we need him to go back to his January form. And he needs to stop taking 3’s unless its at the end of the shot clock.

Overall, I dont think the Hawks played all that bad, but they were playing catchup the whole game, and it got away in the third quarter. Hinrich missed a big 3 that would have cut it to 5 in the 4th, but you wonder if we should have settled for the 3 at that point, or swing the ball around for a higher % shot.

And now we play Bulls in Chicago, where they have the best home record in the East at 27-4. Will the losing streak continue? Stay tuned…

Astro Joe

March 9th, 2011
9:51 am

Considering the Hawks home record the last few years AND that they had beated the Lakers at home for 3 or 4 consecutive seasons, is it safe to say “we would have won that game last year”?

John

March 9th, 2011
9:52 am

Bosh is unhappy..in off-season, trade JJ, Marvin, and ZaZ for Bosh, Mike Miller and Dampier. I’d take a roster with:

Hinrich
Miller
Smith
Bosh
Horford

Dampier, Crawford, Teague main bench players

I’m willing to bet that team will be better than current team. Just my thoughts.

Astro Joe

March 9th, 2011
9:52 am

“…they had beated?” Wow, time for some more coffee.

John

March 9th, 2011
9:53 am

wow, this season has gotten so bad I’m turning into one of those people who post ridiculous trades. Can’t wait for this season to end (1st round)!! haha

O'Brien

March 9th, 2011
10:21 am

Hawks are only 2 games up on the Knicks, and 3 games up on the Sixers (in the loss column). Anything can happen.

AJ,

Considering the Hawks home record was 34-7 last year, and 31-10 the year before, compared to 18-12 this year, I think the Hawks would have won last night’s game last year and the year before that.

As we get closer to the playoffs, I’m losing more and more confidence in LD. SHouldnt it be the other way around?

Rufus1

March 9th, 2011
10:39 am

I can find the Light….

I think this team is better than last years.

I think Damien is starting to get his legs under him, so he is starting to play better….Improving our bench.

Joe is in a shooting slump….so when he come out of the slump the Hawks will be better.

Jamal only played 22min last night.

Astro Joe

March 9th, 2011
11:01 am

Rufus, I need whatever you are drinking.

Jeff Schultz’ article was pretty funny. I actually have mixed feelings about them selling the opponent’s gear in the arena… why not make money on the fans of other teams… if the Hawks are winning they will wear their gear quietly. At the same time, it does suggest that you’re more interested in building revenue than building Hawks fans. It’s okay to sell the t-shirts for every college during the SEC tournament but my gues is that you won’t find any Florida gear at a UGA home game. If I drink what Rufus is drinking, then I could believe that the $30 Kobe t-shirt will lead to more money spent on the Hawks (e.g. competent college scouts, a better summer league team, a statistician, etc.). And, again, if the Hawks are winning, then those t-shirts have no voice.

Rufus1

March 9th, 2011
11:28 am

Sorry Astro, I don’t drink. I simply know this team can play better than they have. I holding out hope they fix their problems before the playoffs.

Remeber, Joe, Jamal and Bibby, scored a lot more points last year….Everyone else is about the same. Kirk, is an upgrade over Bibby, but Jamal and Joe have fallen off a cliff.

PS. I agree with everything VAVA says about Jamal X 10…simply take him out of the Game and we are a better team.

I would release Jamal and pick-up Kapono after 3/12/11….He can’t play in the playoffs and he has become a useless crutch for LD.