Atlanta Hawks: ‘Big’ lineup could end up as the regular lineup

Twin towers over certain opponents but could big lineup work all the time? (AP Photo)

Twin towers over certain opponents but could the big lineup work all the time? (AP Photo)

Sacramento–Probably a major reason the Twin lineup has been Atlanta’s most efficient defensive alignment is because L.D. has focused it so narrowly.

When the Hawks need a big body to contend with an opponent’s inside power (or at least what L.D. perceives to be an inside threat), Twin goes in. Now the Hawks don’t have to double in the post and scramble. As a bonus, Al is freed from having to tangle with a bigger, stronger opponent at both ends, allowing him up to face the basket and score and theoretically decreasing his chances of falling victim to the two-foul rule.

So Twin’s starts and most of his minutes have mostly come against teams with physical big men: Phoenix, Orlando, Milwaukee, New Jersey, San Antonio, Boston, Oklahoma City and the Clippers. With the exception of Phoenix (when Twin lasted just four minutes) and Boston (which was missing all of its regular big men but L.D. for some reason was focused on getting Al away from Semih Erden)), the Thunder and Clippers games seem to be the outliers in that group.

It could be a hint of what’s to come. L.D. said he’s considering making the big lineup his regular lineup even after Marvin returns from injury.

“I’ve given it some thought,” he said. “I haven’t made a clear-cut decision if that’s what I want to do across the board. For right now I will keep doing what I’ve been doing and match big when we feel we need to go big and move Al to the four spot.”

Atlanta’s most-used Twin lineup is the one that also includes Bibby, J.J., Josh and Al. Looking at the details of that alignment*, Atlanta’s effective field-goal percentage made and allowed both are dramatically better than the usual starting lineup of Bibby, Johnson, Marvin, Josh and Al. The other numbers are all similar.

(*Those numbers from 82games.com do not include the Thunder and Clippers games.)

If defense is about personnel, execution and effort then L.D. is hamstrung in the first category, which directly affects the second. He said he likes the effort over the last couple weeks and credits the big lineup.

“I think one thing that really helped us when we’ve gone to the different lineup changes,” L.D. said. “We are not getting involved in as many rotations because we can play one-on-one in the post. Being bigger allows us to play at home more and not have to get into as many rotations. I think our pick-and-roll coverages have been pretty solid. We still have to get better at it. But we’ve made a conscience effort defensively to get back and get our defense set.”

(Drew said that before the Thunder and Clippers sliced through the Hawks on pick-and-rolls, but that’s happened all season so I doubt those two games will change his thinking on the subject.)

When the Hawks face teams that dump the ball into the post and play the power inside-out game, then Twin can be effective individually and the Hawks are sounder as a team. When the Hawks face teams that relentlessly attack them on pick-and-rolls, which at this point should be any team with a decent point guard, then Twin can be a liability. Because, let’s face it, one of the main defensive requirements for Atlanta’s bigs is to help when everything breaks down against pick-and-rolls and Twin’s help radius is pretty small.

The Twin lineup also can have problems against teams that push the pace–it’s why Collins quickly was pulled from the Suns game when he looked like a wagon on the freeway.

“It can definitely hurt you defensively if you are big and they are small and you can’t match their speed,” Drew said. “Jason has been absolutely phenomenal for us, but if we are playing against a team that has the speed I have got to be a little big more selective of whether to go big because that does put me at a disadvantage.”

But did you notice that at one point against the Warriors last week L.D. had Zaza and Al playing together against Golden State’s smallish lineup? In the first half those two were on the floor with Jamal, J.J., Josh and Al; in the second half, they were with Jamal, Mo, and J.J. The Hawks were plus-12 with those two lineups and Zaza had 11 points and seven rebounds while clamping down on David Lee.

That’s anecdotal evidence that the Hawks can go big against small and dictate to their opponents (and maybe it means Zaza is better suited for that than Twin):

“That’s my line of thinking when I go to that change,” Drew said. “I will go there if we feel like we need to defend that spot or go big and gain an advantage defensively. I feel good going big with Zaza at the five, Al at the four even against a guy like Radmonovic, who is basically a perimeter player. Al is a smart enough defender to not lose him on the perimeter. I know on the other end Radmanovic is going to have a tough time guarding Al in the post. Some teams flip flop and they will put their best defender on Al and they may go small on Zaza. If they do that, we will go to Zaza. It gives me a little leeway. I have some room to play with some certain lineups and certain matchups and certain situations. If defensively we are being hurt going big then obviously we have to go a little big smaller. If we can go big against a smaller lineup and we gain an advantage offensively, I will do that.”

MC

128 comments Add your comment

Case Quarter

January 4th, 2011
1:59 pm

We’ve been begging for this type of line-up for a while now. I say roll with it.

Case Quarter

January 4th, 2011
1:59 pm

First… lol

Willie Coyote

January 4th, 2011
2:03 pm

Going big probably is the best move for this team. Rotate Twin and Zaza as starters based on the matchup and go from there. At some point, we really need to get a legit starting center so we can stick with one starting lineup and Twin, Zaza, & Al can all rotate minutes at the 5 as needed.

it was not a bad pick

January 4th, 2011
2:13 pm

Mc,

I cant believe Drew would start Josh over marvin at the sf..Josh is not a better sf than Marvin…Have you ever seen a guy drafted #2 and never given a chance?

O'Brien

January 4th, 2011
2:21 pm

Another benefit of the big lineup, is it makes our bench more effective, because now we have Jamal and (hopefully) the improved Marvin off the bench.

2 comments though;

1) Why was there outbreak from some people when it was alleged that the only way Shaq would come to the Hawks is if he got to start?

2) If Marvin goes to the bench, I hope he embraces it (like Jamal has)and comes out and says he wants to do whatever it takes to help the team.

I dont want to hear “That’s a decision coach makes, and I have to live with it” or “I’ve always been a starter blah blah blah”.

Gilley

January 4th, 2011
2:21 pm

Wonder why this move hasn’t been made? If we were two small. Jason Collins played center for Eastern Conference Champion Nets in the early part of the decade. But if Marvin remains aggressive off the bench along with Jamal maintaining his rhythm then that would be great. Mo Evans has been trash all season. He must be going through something personal because his play has been AWFUL!

Wayde

January 4th, 2011
2:26 pm

Are you kidding me Marvin is a better sf than Josh? Marvin was never given a chance? Marvin has played the small forward his whole career and been average and he was a much higher draft pick than Josh. Josh is great at going to the basket and rebounding and shot blocking. He can be a John Drew type player. He certainly is not a great shooter but he is scorer. Marvin has potential but never lived up to it.

O'Brien

January 4th, 2011
2:27 pm

it was not a bad pick,

You do realize that Josh has made more 3 pointers (27) than Marvin (19), right? Josh is shooting 40% from behind the arc, while Marvin is shooting 30%, although Marvin has better jump shooting form.

And you do realize that Josh still gets a couple blocks even when he plays minutes at SF, while Marvin averages 0.23 blocks per game.

And Josh can be counted on for more rebounding from the SF position than Marvin. Plus Josh is a more consistent player (although he does make some dumb decisions at times).

O'Brien

January 4th, 2011
2:29 pm

“Al is a smart enough defender to not lose him on the perimeter.” LD .

So why does LD think Al is not smart enough to play with 5 fouls?

Rufus1

January 4th, 2011
2:39 pm

“like a wagon on the freeway”…..Lol that is funny.

it was not a bad pick

January 4th, 2011
2:40 pm

Wayde

josh bad shot selection is one of the biggest problems on the Hawks…for some reason people on this blog forget those bricks Josh throw up in crucial times of the game…

O’Brien

Marvin started off slow due to poor ball movement, i gurantee that Josh will not shoot a higher percentage at the end of the year..Josh blocks shots against bad small teams, but against teams with big front lines, Josh does not block alot of shots…Josh is the 2nd option on offense, he is very inconsistant, if Marvin got the shots josh got, he would easily score 20 ppg, without the 4 turnovers Josh gets a night..Marvin should request a trade…I like Josh but he does not play a position….

Ramon

January 4th, 2011
2:40 pm

O’Brien, I don’t understand it either. Why not give Shaq the entire mid-level exception? Shaq would’ve paid for his salary just in jersey sales and ticket sales alone. Also, we would’ve known for sure that we were going to be in the penalty each game. And as said before, if nothing else it would’ve stopped Boston from having him.

Astro Joe

January 4th, 2011
2:42 pm

Given how much Al and Josh enjoy shooting jumpers, go ahead and make the move permanent. In fact, if those guys get any happier with playing away from the basket, make them the starting backcourt.. they both have been known to lead the fast break.

Collins needs to be ready to catch the ball in the half-court offense, too many times he moves to get in position for an offensive rebound and allows a perfect pass to brick off his hands. If LD wants a 5-man offensive attack, Collins can’t be a non-weapon.

Rufus1

January 4th, 2011
2:43 pm

When the playoffs come….

I think we will be better, because as a team the Hawks are learning how to take advantage of mismatches….Something we never did in all of Woodson’s 6 years of “Street Ball”.

Ramon

January 4th, 2011
2:43 pm

It was not a bad pick, you’re saying Marvin wouldn’t turn the ball over more with the ball in his hands? The man fumbles the ball more than Joe Theismann on a Lawrence Taylor blitz.

Sautee

January 4th, 2011
2:45 pm

O’B,

Excellent question. Or with only two fouls.

I had a beef with LD using Collins in the Boston game against Erden. I believe that like Horford has said, that against most teams we have a quickness advantage with Al at the 5 and Josh at the 4. The switch put Al against KG and Josh has given KG all he could handle in the past, while KG definitely got in Al’s head. It also took Josh further away from the basket guarding Pierce.

I’d like to have seen Al posting up on Erden. Hell, these days I’d like to see Al posting up, period.

hbcuclassics

January 4th, 2011
2:46 pm

Hawks not bad, Not good either…

The BIG lineup is definitely the way to go, although I may start ZaZa ocassionally, he is an under utilized offensive weapon. And may help the Hawks get out of the gate faster, in fact, he’s our best low post option.

Marvin is out. Upon review, I think Marvin’s ship has sailed…he’s a very good all-around player but in simplest terms, Jamal Crawford has beaten him out of his job. Unless, the Spirit find the nerve to go over the cap and keep them both, the top six spots are set. The Hawks are playing well going big and Marvin makes too much to sit.

It’ll work out well for the both the Hawks and Marvin. Hawks get to trade Marvin/Teague/Evans for upgrades/fixes and Marvin gets more freedom to shine.

Players on radar:
Mo Williams
Daniel Gibson
Anthony Randolph
Chris Kaman
Hakeem Thabeet

Astro Joe

January 4th, 2011
2:48 pm

Ramon, not that stats matter more than subjective evaluations, but you do know that Josh averages almost twice as many TOs as Marvin, right? Or maybe turnovers from bad passes (Josh) don’t count as turnovers from mishandled passes (Marvin)… is that your theory? Turnovers when you’re “trying to make something happen” aren’t as costly to the team?

it was not a bad pick

January 4th, 2011
2:48 pm

Ramon

Marvin does not turn the ball over…maybe 1 or 2 times a game..When he falls, he usually is getting fouled

RealSquawk

January 4th, 2011
2:48 pm

Competence. Something they have been missing on the sidelines for awhile.

Marvin hasn’t been giving the chances Josh has, but he has been given the leeway.

JeJe

January 4th, 2011
2:49 pm

Good blog.

I would like another blog in this detail describing how exactly Teague is being developed to be the next franchise PG, what exactly Bibby brings to this team besides spot shooting, and why no trade rumors are involved regarding other teams’ PGs

Astro Joe

January 4th, 2011
2:53 pm

Je-Je, what exactly has Teague done to earn himself “Prince PG” status? Maybe he should first be developed to be a consistent rotational player. Sund could always acquire an experienced PG, because it seems unlikely that Teague will be ready to run a 50-win team when Bibby’s contract expires.

prison mike

January 4th, 2011
2:58 pm

Duck can keep the hawk nest(bench) nice and tidy until it’s his turn to “fly”.

JeJe

January 4th, 2011
3:00 pm

Astro Joe,

Duh.

So what exactly is our future plans for the PG position? I don’t think Teague can be a starter in this league. Might as well get a PG now. We’re just rotting right now with these two one-dimensional flawed PGs, neither of whom is anywhere close to the middle of the pack in the PG rankings

lukas

January 4th, 2011
3:00 pm

It was not a bad pick,

When he falls, he usually is getting foul? then, why Jamal and Teague don’t fall when they penetrate and get fouled? Are you related to Marvin somehow? family perhaps? if you aren’t, please wake up.

prison mike

January 4th, 2011
3:01 pm

Teague
Jamal
MW
Powell
Zaza

This is not a bad second unit when the starters(jump shooters) start to brick their precious shot attempts.

wxwax

January 4th, 2011
3:02 pm

Another excellent blog entry. Thanks, Michael.

JeJe

January 4th, 2011
3:14 pm

When Marvin falls, he is USUALLY getting hurt.

This timid stiff is ALWAYS on the ground

it was not a bad pick

January 4th, 2011
3:19 pm

lukas

Quit acting like Jamal Crawford is a baller..this guy has been on losing teams his whole career..does not play d..It takes him 20 shots to get 20 points…Marvin has been sacificing his game for average players..Joe,Jamal, and even though it hurts me , Josh…when Joe and Jamal were out Marvin produced and it didnt take him 20 shots or ball hogging to get those points..very EFFICIENT……

JeJe

January 4th, 2011
3:34 pm

LOL @ this guy calling Joe, Jamal and Josh average, but claiming that Marvin is better

Wow.

O'Brien

January 4th, 2011
3:36 pm

It was not a bad pick,

So it was poor ball movement that caused Marvin to clank all those 3’s earlier in the season?

And I don’t doubt that if given more shots, Marvin would score more. What I question, is that Marvin has what it takes to be a #1 or #2 scoring option. He has not been able to take advantage of mismatches in the past, and he missed a lot of open jumpers when JJ gets double teamed.

However, if Marvin keeps up his 15 and 6 (his average for 5 games before he got hurt) for the rest of the season, then your points may be more convincing.

But I agree that Josh makes some silly turnovers and take some bad shots.

lukas

January 4th, 2011
3:39 pm

It was not a bad pick,

I’m not saying Jamal is a baller (and he IS), i’m saying Marvin is SOFT as toilet paper and efficient only at dissapearing. Look at his number in 6 years please!! 6 years with the starting SF position!!! Josh is making more impact at that position (positive and negative) than Marvin has ever done.

You said it yourself: IT WAS NOT A BAD PICK because the lottery is a lottery, some teams get lucky (Durant-OKC) some teams do not (Oden-Blazzers). Marvin was an interesting gamble at that draft, and 6 years later he has proven that he is a good role player that can help the Hawks by coming from the bench and play consistent minutes with the second team.

Ramon

January 4th, 2011
3:44 pm

AJ, Josh handles the ball maybe 3-4x more during the game than Marvin does (I rarely recall Marvin scoring many times when someone else didn’t assist his shot attempt). So if Josh handles the ball way more than Marvin, I can live with one more turnover a game than Marvin. And also, I actually do believe many of Josh’s turnovers do come from plays under the basket where Zaza and Collins aren’t expecting passes (and why after 3 years is Zaza still not prepared for entry passes from Josh when he drives, and draws Zaza man to react). Josh also has a big problem when coming up court and small point guards come up from behind to tap the ball out of his hands. Those two are probably make up most of Josh turnovers totals (that’s my opinion not a fact).

O'Brien

January 4th, 2011
3:51 pm

@ it was not a bad pick;

You said “Quit acting like Jamal Crawford is a baller..this guy has been on losing teams his whole career..does not play d..It takes him 20 shots to get 20 points” .

Check your facts. The most FG Jamal has taken in a game this year is 18, and he averages less than 12 shots per game. Here are some of his 20 point games;

Nets on 12/23; 21 points on 14 shots.
Knicks on 11/27; 21 points on 18 shots
Nets on 12/7; 26 points on 17 shots
Spurs on 12/10; 23 points on 18 shots
Indy on 12/11; 25 points on 16 shots
OKC on 12/31; 26 points on 15 shots
LAC on 1/2 24 points on 13 shots

So where are these 20 shots per game that you refer to?

http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/gamelog?playerId=165/

Westurd

January 4th, 2011
3:51 pm

Would anyone still used “Elite” and “Hawks” in the same sentence? I think that arguement has played itself out over the last year. We just don’t feel like a unit out there and I want the Josh back that showed up the first couple weeks of the season. Josh is incredible, but I still want to shake the ish out of him and tell him he has the gifts to be one of the best…..is immaturity and pouting is hindering his ability…………..why can no on get that through to him?

Ramon

January 4th, 2011
3:51 pm

It was a not a bad pick, Marvin is normally getting fouled by his shoestring.

Westurd

January 4th, 2011
3:52 pm

and if anyone is offering spelling and/or grammer lessons I’m all for it…..sign this tard up.

Ramon

January 4th, 2011
3:55 pm

Westurd, one word- No! lol…Elite starts with the ownership and works it way down.

Michael Cunningham

January 4th, 2011
3:58 pm

@ it was not a bad pick: “Mc, I cant believe Drew would start Josh over marvin at the sf..Josh is not a better sf than Marvin…Have you ever seen a guy drafted #2 and never given a chance?”

don’t know about that last part. Marvin has been a starter for a long time now. when you look at the number for the different lineups, it appears Marvin definitely helps defensively at the 3.

Michael Cunningham

January 4th, 2011
4:00 pm

@ AJ: “Given how much Al and Josh enjoy shooting jumpers, go ahead and make the move permanent. In fact, if those guys get any happier with playing away from the basket, make them the starting backcourt.. they both have been known to lead the fast break.”

nice . . .

Najeh Davenpoop

January 4th, 2011
4:17 pm

Looks like the Internet is back on at the old folks’ home again.

Najeh Davenpoop

January 4th, 2011
4:21 pm

From the previous blog…

“Also, is Chicago ever going to lose again?

How does a team with Joakim Noah out and no shooting guard win so many damn games? Every time I look, they’ve won.”

I did think the Hawks would have been wise to bring in Tom Thibodeau for an interview. Looks like that hire is working out so far for Chi-town.

jtshoopsblog

January 4th, 2011
4:42 pm

It’s a good idea to start Jason Collins. He’s the perfect big man that can absorb fouls and set screens giving Al Horford more chance to be effective on the offence. Josh Smith’s athleticism is more suited for the SF position. He’s much stronger than other SFs (save for one by the name of Lebron james), and he has the quickness to keep up with them defensively. Marvin Williams is better suited for coming off the benc. His versatility will be perfect in facing an oppositions second unit. Also when he starts, he seems to get lost in the offense.

Ken Strickland

January 4th, 2011
4:48 pm

All of this talk about making Twin our starting center and benching Marvin is nothing more than putting a bandaid on an open wound. Sure, Twin can provide one on one DEF against certain types of centers, but he can’t provide adequate help DEF in the lane when Bibby or Jamal’s man blows by them.

Since we don’t have, and aren’t likely to acquire, a big, tall shotblocking center to patrol the lane and compensate for our poor perimeter DEF, we need to fix the problem from the outside, which is a lot more realistic and manageable.

Some of you keep making an issue of the 2 foul rule, which was put in place to make certain key frontline players avoid getting an early 3rd foul, which is very likely with Bibby and Jamal’s matador DEF.

If LDrew guaranteed Teague 5 consecutive starts, along with about 25MPG, how many of you feel he’d have difficulty approximating, or exceeding, Bibby’s 10.2PPG, 2.2RPG, 3.9APG, .54SPG, and provide better, more consistent DEF?

Fundamentals

January 4th, 2011
4:49 pm

Lineup is no surprise. My question is what would we look like with Teague as the starging PG? Right now we don’t have enough balls to keep JJ, Al and Josh truly happy and active. Moving Marvin to the 2nd unit may fire him up a bit. Interchanging ZaZa and Twin based on game speed would be best. ZaZa would relish the opportunity to start.

Also, if Joe loves to handle the ball so much why not try a line-up withh Joe as the PG? He can use his size to dominate other PG’s with Jamal, Marvin, Josh & Al in the game late. Plenty of scoring and mismatches available against most teams.

If Jamal could show his recent prowess for D every night would folks be more inclined to using him more or signing him long term?

SteveW

January 4th, 2011
4:54 pm

Ramon – You did say that Smoove lead the team in FTA’s, not per game. But then your next statement doesn’t follow, saying based on total attempts, and not per game, that Smoove is better at taking the ball to the basket or whatever. It is only per game stats that indicate that, not total attempts.

Najeh – Until recently, yes, Marvin was almost completely invisible in most games.

Fundamentals

January 4th, 2011
4:54 pm

Ken,

I think Drew, like Woodson, likes the idea of Bibby on the court regardless. Teague isn’t seasoned enough for the interactions that Drew has with Bibby every night. They talk all night long about the game, almost like Bibby is coaching from the court.

I’ll admit Teague needs this to progress and we ultimately need him to win, but LD and Woodson coach for the right now…not for the near or distant future. As much as you like the idea it won’t happen.

We’ll keep playing patchwork till we bust.

How bout that letter from ownership today on email, promising a NBA Championship soon with our developing talent!!!!! What BS. We have no chance w/o some help before February. We’ve got too many gaps, too many weaknesses and a coaching staff that won’t help anyone with potential upside to progress.

SteveW

January 4th, 2011
4:55 pm

Najeh – My last post should have been addressed to Rod, not you. Sorry.

dirty d

January 4th, 2011
4:56 pm

This line up is exponentially better, but I think Zaza is a bit better than Collins, especially offensively. Marvin Williams is not good enough to be starter for the Hawks. Sheldon Williams may have even been a better draft pick than Marvin at their respective draft placement. When we could of had CP3 or D. Williams and you look at the less than mediocre play of Marvin night after night with only a few exceptions, it is really ashame. Marvin needs to be traded along with either bibby/teague for an experienced pg, not necessarily anyone amazing, who can play effectively w/ joe,josh,al night after night.

SteveW

January 4th, 2011
4:57 pm

Glad to see LD is considering the ZaZa at Center option, maybe starting. Now if we can get him to just start Teague, cause everybody agrees Teague aint ready, but he aint gonna get ready riding the pine. Start Teague! Start ZaZa! If it doesn’t work out, go back to Bibby and Collins, but at least try it.