Should L.D. set Al Horford free?

Al made John Hollinger’s Kevin Love All-Stars team at That’s guys who need to be set free (Insider):

Atlanta Hawks coach Larry Drew has presented himself as different from predecessor Mike Woodson, but one piece of Woodson era foolishness remains: The Hawks’ insistence on pulling anybody with two fouls in the first half. Horford has been ridiculously good this year, ranking fourth in the NBA in PER, but is playing only 29.9 minutes per game because of the coach’s silly stipulation.

It isn’t hurting only Horford; it also cost the Hawks a game in Orlando. Horford went to the bench with just two fouls and 5:33 still remaining in the first half, and in came Etan Thomas. (Yes, Etan Thomas. Zaza Pachulia also had two fouls by this point, and God forbid the backup center pick up three fouls in the first half. We might need him if there’s a fourth overtime.) A three-point lead quickly became a four-point deficit at the break, and Atlanta lost by four. Horford finished the game with four fouls, but his coach effectively fouled him out in the second quarter.

L.D. has said he wouldn’t necessarily always bench Al when he picks up two fouls in the first half. But, to my recollection, he only left him out there once in that situation and then only briefly.

More trade talk

At least this trade rumor didn’t involve Smoove (or even a different “core” player).’s Marc Stein updated his early trade winds report to say the Kings offered Jason Thompson in a deal “featuring” Teague but the Hawks declined.

The Hawks don’t need really another power forward at the expense of losing their only backup point guard–particularly a power forward who is shooting more and more jumpers and isn’t stout around the rim. Though I guess that kind of describes Josh Powell, doesn’t it?

Bibby has no regrets

Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports talks to Bibby about declaring for the 1998 draft despite the threat of a labor lockout, a choice this year’s draft prospects likely face unless there is some breakthrough in labor talks:

Atlanta Hawks point guard Mike Bibby(notes) understands the difficult decision some college underclassmen and international NBA prospects will face in the spring. He had to make a similar choice in 1998 whether to leave Arizona early with the NBA on the brink of a lockout.

Bibby opted to declare for the draft. He was taken second overall by the Vancouver Grizzlies, after which the league entered a lockout. The season did not start until Feb. 5, 1999, and teams played a truncated 50-game schedule. Because he wasn’t getting paid during the lockout and didn’t want to risk injury before he signed a contract, Bibby worked out but didn’t scrimmage in pick-up games.

“It was tough,” Bibby said. “I didn’t spend money I didn’t have. I didn’t go do anything out of the ordinary.

“I never had any regrets about leaving early. The main reason I went to Arizona was because of what they did for guards there. I didn’t plan on staying long.”

Bibby more aggressive?

Lang Greene of Hoopsworld talked to Bibby about his relationship with Teague but this was the quote that caught my eye:

“I’ve been more aggressive (this season),” Bibby explained to HOOPSWORLD. “I’m just trying to make things happen. I’m getting to the basket a lot more than I did last year. The year before and trying to get a contract over the summer (2009), you really don’t want to do anything that would get you hurt. So I kind of took it easy last summer. This summer I took care of my body, ate better and did extra running. So I’m ready.”

Bibby actually is getting to the basket at about the same rate as last season, which is hardly at all. Neither is this supposed newly-discovered aggressiveness leading to assists at a higher rate.

I have noticed that so far Bibby is setting himself up for jumpers more often by pump-faking defenders who close out and then stepping in to shoot. He also seems more likely to slip into space with a few dribbles before launching. Those observations are reflected by the much lower assist rate this season for his baskets from 16 to 23 feet.

But basically Bibby remains the same: a very good spot-up shooter who hardly ever turns the ball over and whose diminished ability to guard the ball causes major breakdowns in Atlanta’s defense.


20 comments Add your comment


November 16th, 2010
2:41 pm

Al should be centerpiece of this team. He needs to play more minutes. It hurt Hawks when he was limited in minutes on couple occasions. Some of this the new coach will pick up. It is on the job training for Drew and hard lessons he is learning.


November 16th, 2010
2:58 pm

Alternative explanation – maybe by playing Al fewer minutes now, he’ll still have his legs at the end of the season and into the playoffs.

Section 303

November 16th, 2010
3:15 pm

I wonder how long the Hawks spent on pondering that trade offer from the Kings? I haven’t watched Thompson or the Kings much this year. But, I still think of Thompson as a quality player. Dumping Teague for someone who can actually play sounds like a win. But, they probably did the right thing passing on the deal…..I think, anyways.

Section 303

November 16th, 2010
3:17 pm

And, I agree 100% that Al should not automatically get pulled after two early fouls. I can’t think of a game in which any player who got in early foul trouble, was pulled, and then came back and played all that well. Might as well leave the guy on the floor. Pulling him never seems to help matters.


November 16th, 2010
3:23 pm

Hawks shud have did the trade involving Teague for Thompson. This would have been the new lineup:
C- Al
PF- Thompson
SF- Josh
SG- Joe
PG- Bibby

Also moving Marvin to the bench gives us a legit backup SF, something we havent had. And bout the backup PG, Jamal is usually the one coming in for Bibby anyways…


November 16th, 2010
3:23 pm

Wow…4 people have commented on this blog. Guess that tells you how much people care about this sorry organization.


November 16th, 2010
3:35 pm

I have the Coach K philosophy…

Close games and big games the starters play until they are about to die.

When in doubt ask yourself WWJD or “What Would Jordan Do?”. Jordan was routinely around 38-40 mpg and so was Scottie and that’s how much Joe Johnson, Horford and Smith should be playing. The scrubs play at the beginning of quarters and never as a full on 2nd unit like LD likes to do at times. Phil Jackson strategically subs his players…not just because the players need their minutes.


November 16th, 2010
3:45 pm

Agree with oldtimer. Al needs to be more involved in the offense. He’s capable of scoring closer to 20 a game I think, and at a much higher FG% than the other guys taking jump shots.


November 16th, 2010
4:00 pm

I definitely agree with what John Hollinger and others on this blog are saying in regards to Horford’s usage. He’s an amazing player and is still underutilized. I’ve been saying all season long that I do not agree at all with Coach Drew only playing him 30 minutes or less each night. He doesn’t need to exhaust him with 40+ minutes, the way some coaches do, but you always want to maximize the use of your best players when it benefits you. Al should be averaging at least around 35 minutes per game, and I also find it a bit silly to take him out immediately when he picks up two fouls (unless this happens in the first quarter). Al is not heavily foul prone and knows how to play with fouls. I definitely think Al should have a bigger role in the offense as well. He has shown on numerous occasions that he can be trusted down the stretch to help close out games and he shows signs of being a go-to guy in games as well. I definitely feel more comfortable with the ball in his hands when we need a basket rather than having the ball in Joe or Jamal’s hands when they are going 1 vs. 2-3 and wasting the shot clock. Al could be a 20+ point, 10+ rebound guy on a nightly basis if he’s given the minutes and the opportunity. On a lot of nights, Al’s biggest enemies are his coach and teammates.

The Truth

November 16th, 2010
4:28 pm

Until Al gets more range in his offense game, then making Al a centerpiece of the offense might cost him his PER rating and stagnate the offense. The Hawks would go from ISO Joe to ISO Al. So, Al should just continue to take what the defense gives him in the motion scheme of things. The reason his PER numbers are high now is because JJ is still getting all the attention. Right now, Al got just 3 highly effective offense moves. 1) The face-up 2) The right-side shots 3) put-back dunk (clean-up basket isn’t counted). A good defender could take away much of what Al likes to do by forcing him to his left side. Until he develops on his left side, he will be handicap during crunch time if he was the centerpiece of the offense. In the mean time, he should just continue to work under the radar and do what he does best. With Al potential, if he ever becomes a complete player, he could be unstoppable.

Astro Joe

November 16th, 2010
4:47 pm

I trust Al with the ball in his hands more so than any other Hawk (other than Bibby). No doubt, he should be allowed to play with 2 fouls until he proves that he can’t make the adjustment. Al should touch the ball on every half-court possession.

Shyne G

November 16th, 2010
4:48 pm

Did anyone get a chance to read the on Roy Hibbert’s off season? The guy made a genuine effort to slim down his frame, watch several hours of film, and condition his body to compete with the best centers in the league starting with Al Horford.

Where in the world is that kind of commitment and dedication on our roster? I agree with whomever it was on this blog that said Al should be the leader of the pack. He is has fit the bill ever since leaving Florida.


November 16th, 2010
4:49 pm

Bibby is a steady guard and a very good shooter but his horrible defense is KILLING the team. We have the ability to stop no one on the perimenter.

He also puts absolutely no pressure on any defense and he is not athletic enought to help utilize our team’s great athletes, whose best years are passing them by with a PG who can not run with them.


November 16th, 2010
5:38 pm

Section 303, I pined for Thompson over the offseason because he was a young big who I thought could take on the center role. But looking at it now, he might be better suited at the 4, and he does have $8M still owed to him over 3 years, yet has not really done much so far in his rookie contract.

Not sure if we gain much unless another deal is in the works, but any change right now might be a good change…..especially when it concerns the core.


November 16th, 2010
6:37 pm

Please, if anyone else mentions Horford in the same breath as the jumper-happy POS who everyone is raving about because he’s the only player on his team who bothers to rebound, I’ll scream. Then again, it’s ESPN. What should I expect?


November 16th, 2010
6:39 pm

The trade we should make [on Dec. 15] *this yr;
To Sac Kings:
* Joe Johnson & Jeff Teague + 1st round pick
Hawks get in return:
* Tyreke Evans & Sam Dalembert (exp contract)

Gamble for both teams.
*Sac becomes relevant immediately.
*Hawks get pg
*Hawks get young star
*hawks re-sign Jamal



November 16th, 2010
6:54 pm

Grandad got the answer. Completely agree, and it is doable.

Shyne G

November 16th, 2010
6:57 pm

Are the Rockets really shopping Aaron Brooks? What is his resume like on defense? I know the guy is lightning quick with good range on his shot, but can he run the floor well? Because I am pretty sure we have the personnel necessary to make that trade possible. It could really add a whole other dimension to our offensive attack and perimeter defense.

Meanwhile tonight we are up against a formidable three point threat with good size in the paint. The Pacers are still trying to find chemistry with Collison at the helm but overall they still lack identity as a team (we too are still a work in progress). The key to this evening’s game is how we contain the perimeter without paying to much attention to Danny Granger. Man-to-man coverage or running a solid 3-2 zone is vital because this scheme will not allow their shooters to get comfortable with a ready defender standing by.

Excuse me for getting carried away but I am a coach for an AAU team up here in Chicago and I model the new motion offense the Hawks are establishing with my guys. And yes, I am a die-hard fan in the process of coming back home to Atlanta!!!

Big Ray

November 17th, 2010
12:22 pm

Set Al free? In a word: yes.

Mz. Hawkdafied

November 20th, 2010
2:21 pm

Should L.D. set Al Horford free?

Yes and no, depending on the game situation.