The calendar says Bibby will be 33 in May, so he’s still a young man in the real world. But in NBA terms, it means Bibby is in the twilight of a distinguished career that is at 1013 games (including playoffs) and counting.
The numbers say Bibby’s offensive production and efficiency have fallen off as the season grows longer, even when viewing them in the narrow context of his role as a spot-up shooter. That suggests that Bibby might be wearing down as the season approaches the All-Star break.
Even Bibby, not one to usually give much credence to his age as a limiting factor, acknowledges that he doesn’t quite have the same bounce at this time of year as seasons past.
“It’s different,” he said. “I can definitely feel . . . I am not going to say I feel my age. Because what I still do out there is I’ve catered myself to the roll of taking care of the team and making sure everybody is doing what they need to be doing and making sure they have fun and do what it takes to win.”
L.D. said the video evidence also suggests Bibby is tiring. But he said he has no plans to systemically reduce Bibby’s minutes after they increased from October/November to December to January.
“He may be experiencing a little [fatigue],” he said. “I have been watching a lot of film of him earlier in the season versus now, and clearly you can see a difference in how he’s moving. And his legs may be a little tired. It won’t be a situation of me giving up on him or me really cutting his minutes down. If I cut his minutes down, it will only be because of how the game is going, [if] we are in a pretty good rhythm.”
Drew said Atlanta’s W at Washington was such a case. Bibby sat for the final 17 minutes as L.D. opted to close with a Jamal/J.J./Damien/Marvin/Smoove alignment (sans injured Al).
“In those type situations, those will be the times when he will be limited, especially in the second half,” L.D. said. “But for the most part his minutes will stay consistent.”
Bibby’s outside shooting, meanwhile, is on a downward trend both in terms of his 3-point shooting and his attempts from 16 to 23 feet. He has a knack for getting open for the latter shot type by using pump fakes or a quick step-in after the catch, but the Hoopdate shot location stats show that he’s taking fewer of those attempts and making them less often without the benefit of an assist.
(Complied using data from Hoopdata.com)
Playing 17 games in December, Bibby was 33 of 73 on 3-pointers (45.2 percent). He made 24 of 53 attempts from 16 to 23 feet (45.3 percent) with 13 of them (54 percent) assisted.
Playing 13 games in January, Bibby was 26 of 67 on 3-pointers (38.8 percent). He made 4 of 20 attempts from 16 to 23 feet (20 percent) with three of them assisted (75 percent).
Playing three games in February, Bibby is 4 of 15 on 3-pointers (26.7 percent). He has made 0 of 4 attempts from 16 to 23 feet.
Considering his defensive limitations and relative lack of production as a playmaker, Bibby obviously is much less valuable to the Hawks if he’s not making shots at a high clip.
“Everybody looks at it like I am not scoring as much, but I really don’t have to,” Bibby said. “We’ve got three All-Stars [he's counting Josh] and the sixth man of the year. My job is not to score. My main thing I want to do is when that ball makes it around to me, make the shot and kind of spread the floor for them.”
With the recent dip in shooting, Bibby’s season percentage on shots from 16 to 23 feet (38) is now less than the league average (39.4). His 3-point percentage (44) is still well above the league average (36).
Bibby likens his current situation to his time in Sacramento. He was younger then but he played more minutes and carried a bigger offensive burden than he does now.
“You always need a break,” he said. “Everybody always says it isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. It takes a toll on your body. Everybody always sees the glamorous parts. . . . No one gets to see the grind. I’ve been preparing myself for this grind. I am not like I was when I was younger, to where I could go full-fledged practice every day, all day, for nine months straight. I let [Drew] know how I am feeling the next day and stuff like that. Coming from coaches that have played, they understand.”
Al, still recuperating from his fall, sat out practice today. He was in the training room so I didn’t get to check with him but he told Ken S. the other night he would play tomorrow against the Sixers.
“I am sure Wally [Blase] will be listening to Al to see how he feels,” L.D. said. “If he feels like he can go, I am sure he will let him go.”
J.J. also didn’t practice because of some tendinitis in his left knee that he termed “no big deal.” He said he will play against the Sixers.
Smoove was limited because of his left knee but he’s expected to play tomorrow, too.
Only Al appears on the Hawks’ injury report.
Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat