Atlanta Hawks: For wear and tear talk ’bout practice, not games

Woody ran his players into the ground when he looked like this.

Woody ran his players into the ground when he looked like this.

From time to time I’ve heard concerns that Woody is running his main guys into the ground and I know that’s been his rep. So let’s look at the minutes per game for J.J., Smoove and Al before I point out how those numbers might not even be the most important consideration in the matter.

J.J.’s minutes are down slightly, from 39.5 last season to 38.1 this year–the fewest he’s averaged since he was a bench player for Phoenix in 2002-03. Smoove is playing 35.1 minutes per game, same as last season and down from his workload in his third and fourth seasons. Horford’s minutes are up to 35.2 from 33.2.

(Marvin and Bibby aren’t really in the discussion anymore. Marvin is getting the least burn since he was a rookie. Bibby’s minutes are at a career low, less than Jamal’s.)

OK, those are the overall minutes for the Big 3, but what about the monthly splits? Is Woody riding his Big Three more as the playoffs approach?

For J.J. and Al it depends on how many minutes they log the rest of the season. Al’s minutes took a big jump from January (35.3) to February (39.2) but are way down in March (33.7). J.J.’s average minutes increased in January (38.1) and February (40.1) but are back down in March (37.8). Smoove’s minutes have been pretty constant through January (38.1), February (38.1) and March (39.3).

You can always look through the game logs and raise an eyebrow about the minutes here and there. Recent examples include J.J. playing 42 minutes at Miami after he played 37 minutes while sick the night before. Josh played 45 vs. Golden State and then 40 at Miami, where he didn’t seem to have his usual focus and energy(though Smoove doesn’t have the same age and injury concerns as J.J.)

But players’ work rate outside of games might be as (or even more) important to wear and tear than what happens the rest of the time. How often do they practice? How long are the sessions? And how intense are they? I don’t have any way of objectively measuring where the Hawks rate in those areas–I only get to see the latter part of full practices and usually they are just shooting or walking through plays by then. But my feeling is the practices have shortened and from talking to Woody they’ve tended to be lighter workouts.

The subject came up the other day when Woody noted the Hawks had a good, hard practice on Wednesday before they headed to Washington. Being a coach and all, he lamented that he can’t put the Hawks through those kind of sessions more often.

“I can’t beat ‘em up like I did in the early days,” Woody said. “I’m serious. Ask Smoove. I used to give them no days off. We would practice every day. They used to hate me for that. I’ve learned to back off.”

Smoove says it’s true.

“(Blank) no we didn’t get a day off,” he said. “Especially when I was a rookie, we would come in when the veterans had days off. And we would come in an hour-and-a-half early and do a full practice, three-man weaves and everything. And then we would go out and do the second practice (with the veterans).”

And did they hate Woody for it?

“Hell yeah,” he said.

Woody knows he can’t do it like that anymore. That could matter more than the minutes logged by his horses, at least as it relates to physical wear and tear over the long term.

Peep my story on Josh’s emerging leadership.

Ken has the Pistons game tonight.

MC

184 comments Add your comment

Nate ArchiBALL

March 13th, 2010
4:27 pm

I’m not going to say it………

Clyde

March 13th, 2010
4:32 pm

Had to check in from Brazil

FIRE WOODY

Cannon

March 13th, 2010
4:44 pm

I think it’s safe to say all that hard work has finally paid off for Smoove,

Luke M

March 13th, 2010
5:00 pm

Good analysis, but another egregious single game example is the loss to Golden State (or was it Dallas?) when Horford played 50 minutes, and Zaza only played 6. That is an awful breakdown of minutes between starter and backup. Small ball or no small ball, you can’t leave your starting C out there for 50 minutes.

Dukester9

March 13th, 2010
5:39 pm

Let me say Woody has done a great job building this team through the 13 wins seasons. But to get to the next level I believe we need a new coach. What bothers me is this organization does not care about the next level of winning. They are just investors who want there return and 50s in most cities will pack the arena. But here we are I just dont feel we have the heart,talent or COACHING to get there.

Grandad

March 13th, 2010
5:55 pm

Using practice time to run 3 man weaves?
Just curious, how many times do you run the 3 man weave
during the course of a season?
I understand that it is a full ct. conditioning drill.*
*used extensively back in the 50’s. [I would know.]
My point:
Practical modern basketball suggests that any practice time
[wear & tear on legs] should incorporate game situations,
fundamentals, teaching, as well as conditioning.
Yes I’m picking at a nit. There are however, lots of nits to pick.
Michael, once again I apologize to you as I appreciate your inside
reporting then taking your info and using it to dissect Wdsn.

I Must Write

March 13th, 2010
5:59 pm

Good job, MC.

You finally got rid of the stupid AKA’s.

Ha

KevinA

March 13th, 2010
6:34 pm

We have had many blow outs this year. I would think that with closer games the big three minutes would be up instead of down. I would also hazard to guess that’s why we get off of fast start’s at the beginning of the year and play less effective later. Maybe that’s why we go to jump shooting instead of attacking the basket in the second half of games. The million dollar question is would playing the bench more from the beginning of the season cost us wins.

In my opinion Evans, Teague, ZaZa and Joe Smith should have had more minutes in the second half to have our best 5 fresher for the last 10 minutes of the game.

northcyde

March 13th, 2010
6:40 pm

Grandad . . have you ever played organized basketball?

The 3-man drill is more of an agility, hand/eye coordination drill, than anything else. You have to watch both the man and the ball, while creating the proper spacing between each other so that you can get the ball down the floor. LOL . . and so you won’t run into each other.

It’s a very helpful drill when it comes to transition basketball because it not only provides conditioning for the player, it helps the player make the right kind of pass when throwing to a person going full speed.

It’s no wonder why Smoove is pretty much devastating on the fast break, whether it be as a finisher or a passer. Of course . . . Woody won’t get any credit for this.

Sautee

March 13th, 2010
6:47 pm

Or his H.S. coaches who undoubtedly ran the weave.

Hawk n the Ham

March 13th, 2010
6:48 pm

*Credit given

Let's Get This Straight

March 13th, 2010
6:48 pm

OK.

Northcyde,

Woodson is NOT a good coach.

He has had the same starting lineup together for 3 years (pretty much). The guys have NATURALLY gotten better. No one on his teams has overachieved in the last 6 years – no, no one has overachieved. OK?

Woodson cannot devise an offensive scheme. Our offense looks horrendous against most teams. We rely on athleticism alone to win games. We have no shot against elite teams in this league and the Hawks crowds are abysmal 95 % of the time. Also, Woodson doesn’t use the bench. While you think guys like Mo Evans and Joe Smith suck, they don’t necessarily do poorly against other bench players.

Woodson is NOT a good coach, is rigiid, does not listen to his assistants, and will NOT be at the helm next year

Hawk n the Ham

March 13th, 2010
6:50 pm

Gatorade nor Redbull make a juice to keep these guys fresh.

northcyde

March 13th, 2010
6:56 pm

KevinA . . . once again, those same group of guys that you named, were constantly blowing leads at the beginning of the year. The only time that group played well, was during that stretch in December.

I mean . . damn. Zaza shot 21.7% FG last month. How does a CENTER shoot that low of a percentage . . . EVER?

joBjo

March 13th, 2010
7:09 pm

Go Hawks. bench should get some burn tonite

G-Money

March 13th, 2010
7:09 pm

Let’s Get This Straight- I have no idea which league you have been watching- the fact of the matter is that no team in this league is going to win the championship without elite players. This crap about an overabundance of talent in Atlanta just is not correct. And the players have just naturally gotten better, that one is not going to fly, every off season they are given some element of their game to improve on, and for the most part they have. Atlanta has a nice collection of talented players with no future Hall of Famers. Do the Celtics have future HOFs, Magic, Cavaliers, Lakers, Nuggets? Oh and speaking of the importance of having one- how would the fortunes of the Pistons and Nuggets be at this moment had not Joe Dumars outsmart himself and taken Carmello Anthony?

Dante Fitzgerald

March 13th, 2010
7:10 pm

Tutti Frutti, oh WOODY
Tutti Frutti, oh WOODY

A WHOP BOP A LU A WHOP BAM BOO

joBjo

March 13th, 2010
7:11 pm

Wallace and Stuckey out.

VenomSpitter

March 13th, 2010
7:14 pm

Duckman makes a 3

joBjo

March 13th, 2010
7:14 pm

get hot Marvin!

VenomSpitter

March 13th, 2010
7:16 pm

hopefully teague gets some burn 2nite

joBjo

March 13th, 2010
7:16 pm

Bynum had 20 assists in a game recently.

Najeh Davenpoop

March 13th, 2010
7:21 pm

Hawks playing hard and playing smart early.

joBjo

March 13th, 2010
7:21 pm

pistons having a T party

VenomSpitter

March 13th, 2010
7:22 pm

Josh with the nice pass

joBjo

March 13th, 2010
7:22 pm

Smoove and Joe sandwiched Bynum on that loose ball. lol.

northcyde

March 13th, 2010
7:26 pm

OK.

Northcyde,

Woodson is NOT a good coach.

Woody is not a GREAT coach. He is a good one though. Especially when you compare him to other guys in the league. When you do that, he’s a good coach. Woody gets a grade of B from me this season.

*********

He has had the same starting lineup together for 3 years (pretty much). The guys have NATURALLY gotten better. No one on his teams has overachieved in the last 6 years – no, no one has overachieved. OK?

* People said that Joe Johnson would NEVER be a #1 guy on an NBA team. 5 years later, he’s on the verge of getting a near-max contract, mainly because Woody uses JJ like he’s Kobe and Lebron ( even if he doesn’t have their skills ). JJ has 4 All-Star appearances after people thought he was crazy to come to ATL . . . so JJ overachieved as a player.

* Jay Bilas on 2004 NBA Draft night said that Josh Smith would be a bust. Once Harrington was sent out of here, Woody moved Smoove to PF. He’s steadily improved as a player ever since, almost to All-Star level ( and he should’ve made the team ) . . . so Smoove has overachieved as a player

* `Horford is not playing his natural position, yet, he made the All-Star team this year . . . so as a cener, Horford has overachieved as a player

* Flip Murray was left for dead last year, until he came to the Hawks. Woody trusted him to be our scoring option off the bench. Flip responded with one of his best seasons of his career. He leaves Atlanta, and he’s a scrub again. So Flip overachieved as a Hawk.

* Jamal Crawford was widely regarded as having the worst shot selection in the league. He was a player that, while good, NO ONE wanted. The Hawks get him, and Woody immediately tells him that he wants him to lead the league in scoring off the bench. Crawford responds with THE BEST shooting season of his career so far . . . so Crawford has overachieved as a Hawk.

*************

Woodson cannot devise an offensive scheme. Our offense looks horrendous against most teams. We rely on athleticism alone to win games. We have no shot against elite teams in this league and the Hawks crowds are abysmal 95 % of the time. Also, Woodson doesn’t use the bench. While you think guys like Mo Evans and Joe Smith suck, they don’t necessarily do poorly against other bench players.

We’re one of the best ball handling teams in the league and is currently #3 in the league in offensive rating. We rely on athleticism, and smart play by our vets to win games. Our transition offense is one of the best in the league. We’ve battled Cleveland down to the wire in both games this year. We’ve split with Dallas, Denver and Utah. We’ve swept Boston all 4 games. We’ve swept Portland. The crowd is sorry, only when we don’t play good teams ( the problem is that they don’t come out for non-big games ). The bench is ranked #25 in the league ( which means they’re sorry ). Evans and Joe Smith have played sorry for most of the year . . against the other team’s bench players, because they hardly play with the starters.

**************

Woodson is NOT a good coach, is rigiid, does not listen to his assistants, and will NOT be at the helm next year

Woody is a stubborn coach at times. But he’s also a player’s coach that those guys respect. Woody has increased his win total in each of his 5+ years as a coach. If the Hawks win 52+ games, and make a real good showing in the playoffs, Woody WILL be back at the helm for at least the next 3 to 4 years.

*********

By the way . . a GREAT 1st quarter start by the Hawks. Everyone looks good tonight so far.

Najeh Davenpoop

March 13th, 2010
7:26 pm

Marvin looking good early, on both ends.

Wabe

March 13th, 2010
7:28 pm

Now I know this is getting old on my behalf, but, wouldn’t this be a good time to plug in some minutes for JT0 with the starters? We’re in control of this game.

Najeh Davenpoop

March 13th, 2010
7:29 pm

This, folks, is what it looks like when a good team plays well against a bad team.

joBjo

March 13th, 2010
7:29 pm

uncontested dunk for Max

Wabe

March 13th, 2010
7:29 pm

Damn good quarter though

VenomSpitter

March 13th, 2010
7:33 pm

Man put teague in dammit. U see how the flow has just been messed up?

VenomSpitter

March 13th, 2010
7:33 pm

Josh is the best passer on the team

northcyde

March 13th, 2010
7:34 pm

Smoove running the break and making a great pass. Learning what Woody and the assistants taught him in all of those daily practices as a rookie.

KevinA

March 13th, 2010
7:35 pm

12 assists already

Najeh Davenpoop

March 13th, 2010
7:35 pm

“Woody gets a grade of B from me this season.”

Funny you should say that. For all the differences in opinion you and I seem to have, I give Woody a B too (sometimes it slips to a B-, but for the most part it’s a B).

I guess my posts reflect that I want to see him become an A+, whereas you want everyone to be happy that he has the HOPE scholarship.

northcyde

March 13th, 2010
7:37 pm

Great defense Mo.

VenomSpitter

March 13th, 2010
7:37 pm

best D i’ve seen Mo play

northcyde

March 13th, 2010
7:39 pm

Najeh . . you’ll drive yourself crazy, expecting a coach to be A+. I don’t think there’s a coach in the league that’s an A+.

While your B fluctuates downward to a B-, My B will fluctuate upward to a B+ at times.

Sautee

March 13th, 2010
7:39 pm

Who says Mo can’t play D?

Sautee

March 13th, 2010
7:42 pm

Najeh,

I’ll join you in the loony bin. I’d like to see Woodson be an A+.

And I’ll bet if you asked Woody, that HE’D say he wants to be an A+.

If he doesn’t, get him out of here.

Najeh Davenpoop

March 13th, 2010
7:43 pm

Nice drive-and-dish by Jamal.

northcyde

March 13th, 2010
7:44 pm

Now if the bench keeps playing like this every night, they’ll get more playing time. They look like a legit 2nd unit tonight.

northcyde

March 13th, 2010
7:46 pm

LOL Sautee. A+ is perfect. So if you expect these coaches and players to be perfect, you’ll always have something to complain about.

This is close to A+ basketball tonight though.

Wabe

March 13th, 2010
7:48 pm

They sometimes do look like this though. Yet, they still don’t get the PT. Just think back to the Miami game when J.Smith clocked 43+ minutes. In that game, Joe Smith came off the bench in the 1st half for about 7-8 minutes and he actually had about 8 points and was doing work on the boards. But, we never saw him again.

Sautee

March 13th, 2010
7:48 pm

northcyde,

Agreed.

Wabe

March 13th, 2010
7:49 pm

J.Crawford is ballin.

Najeh Davenpoop

March 13th, 2010
7:49 pm

The old man with the and-1.

Jamal is running the offense with precision right now.

Najeh Davenpoop

March 13th, 2010
7:51 pm

Where the F-CK did that come from?