Atlanta Hawks: Is running the right recipe?

L.D., coach of Team Disarray, thinks one way for the Hawks to tighten up offensively is to let them loose. Because, really, if half court execution takes discipline, precision, and patience then doesn’t getting out and running require abandon, aggressiveness and instinct?

“We’ve got to get back to running,” Drew said today. “We’ve been walking the ball too much. We haven’t been sprinting the lanes. We haven’t been seeking the easy transition points and what that has done is put more pressure on our half court set.”

Said Jamal: “We just have to get back to having fun and being loose. When we do that and can get out and run, we are at our best.”

Added Josh: “We’ve just got to get stops, get deflections, get rebounds and run. And not have to worry about our half court sets.”

In some respects, there is merit to that view.

The Hawks have slipped to 18th in offensive efficiency. All of the teams ranked ahead of them play at a faster pace (and only the Lakers, Blazers, Bulls and Rockets do so by virtue of a superlative offensive rebounding rate).

Also, the Hawks have the horses to run and they are pretty good at it (in spite of themselves).

According to Synergy Sports Technology, the Hawks rank 11th in transition scoring with an average of 1.17 points on 727 possessions. But, and here’s the rub with L.D.’s plan to get out and run, the Hawks have turned it over 14 percent on those plays–the only Synergy play type in which they have a higher turnover rate is pick-and-roll ball handler (14.3 percent) and no other play type is higher than 9.3 percent.

So it seems the Hawks have the ability to run but aren’t better at it because they get a little too loose on the break.

“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.”

The numbers confirm what Drew said (and what you think): In 167 transition possessions, Smoove has turned it over 24 percent of the time while averaging 1.14 points. The numbers for the other regulars:

Al: 16.7 percent turnovers, 1.38 points (ranked 27th in the league) on 48 possessions.

Joe: 15 percent turnovers, 1.1 points on 107 possessions.

Marvin: 5.2 percent turnovers, 1.26 points on 78 possessions.

Jamal: 13.2 percent turnovers, 1.16 points on 115 possessions.

Teague: 11.9 percent turnovers, 1.08 points on 59 possessions.

Those numbers suggest that if the Hawks are going to run, it’s probably best for Al, Marvin (who also gets to the free-throw line much more often on the break than his teammates) and perhaps Teague to get more involved. Josh clearly is an asset on the run but probably should be encouraged to fill the lanes and go hard to the rim instead of making decisions with the ball.

Even if the Hawks figure out how to run more efficiently, they eventually are going to have to execute in the half court for long stretches of the game. The promise of the motion offense seems to be a fading memory. Remember when L.D. used to say over and over that movement would be no problem since the sets force the ball and players to move?

So why the stagnation late in games, with the Hawks showing no clear purpose or plan of attack? Too much iso? Are guys cutting off the sets L.D. calls? Are they not bring patient enough? Said L.D.:

“A combination of a lot of things. We’ve kind of fell back into that standstill, watching each other play. I think more than anything we have just gone back into playing half court basketball instead of seeking the fast break opportunity and still seeking the easy baskets. We don’t want to play out of a half court game if we are able to rebound and run. We don’t want to fall into being seduced into playing slower. Even in the fourth quarter, we have to use our speed and athleticism to get out and run, to get out and get easy baskets and get out and attack the rim.

“And another thing is we’ve been settling for jump shots. Teams that double team Joe or come down on Al and force Smoove into being a passer, we space it well. But even when that ball comes out we can’t settle for jump shots. You’ve got people running at you, you’ve got to put the ball on the floor and get to the basket or put the ball on the floor and force the defense to collapse and then make the extra pass. As of late we have just been swinging it and sitting on the 3 and then launching the 3. You just can’t play like that, particularly when the 3-ball hasn’t been falling. And it hasn’t been falling.”

Maybe we all (or maybe it’s just me) should have seen this coming sooner. The Hawks have always settled for jump shots. Only the Wizards and Heat attempt more 16 to 23 footers per game. When the Hawks were moving the ball, there wasn’t much of a fuss (even now only Utah, Houston, Boston and Charlotte make a higher percentage of long jumpers by virtue of assists). With so many capable scorers, the thought (or maybe it was just my thought) was the Hawks would usually be able to find the guys who were hitting if they kept sharing the ball.

Now the stakes are higher, the competition is better and the Hawks aren’t making those shots. They don’t seem to have a Plan B and so they just keep taking and missing jump shots.

“It’s nothing new, [but] now it seems like we are falling into doing it more,” Drew said. “Sometimes when you get 60-plus games into the season, you do take the path of least resistance. And in this case, the path of least resistance is to just sit out there and let them fly.

“Our staff, we have brought awareness to the guys. We show them on tape: ‘You did this when you could have drove it and made the pass.’ It’s going to always be there. Guys are not going to make the right play all the time. What we don’t want is for them to fall into a pattern of solely spacing the floor out and solely looking for the 3-pointer.”

Better to run than do that.

Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat

115 comments Add your comment

J from the A

March 8th, 2011
2:45 pm

K.W.

March 8th, 2011
2:50 pm

So the team store is selling Lakers gear now.

joe

March 8th, 2011
2:52 pm

is there a starting SF ( or any other position, for that matter) in the NBA that has less affect on the outcome of a game than Marvin W. ????? He is truly invisible……

Section 303

March 8th, 2011
2:56 pm

I am so tired of reading quotes from these clowns. Does there ever come a point where they just know to “have fun” or “get stops”? These guys aren’t exactly new to this anymore. I didn’t mind hearing/reading these things back in ‘04 or ‘05 when they were young and new. But, here we are, 6 years later, and it is the same nonsense.

They’re taking a beating tonight. I’m going with a 20 + point loss.

Betting this team wins 6 more games this year, at most. 4 or 5 probably more likely.

Hollywould

March 8th, 2011
2:58 pm

Running? Has anyone seen JJ on a break this year? Highlight factory/what a joke

Section 303

March 8th, 2011
3:04 pm

I’m picturing Coach Drew showing the players tape of them letting loose with a 3-point shot instead of driving to the hoop. In my mind, while Coach Drew is doing that, the players are asleep or playing on their phones. I don’t think they listen to anything he shows them. They continue to settle for jumpers. That isn’t going to change.

Oh, well….at least the Lakers will be fun to watch. I might be in the minority here, but I actually like Kobe. I love all the work he puts into the game and how badly he wants to win. Traits not one player on our team has.

joe

March 8th, 2011
3:05 pm

I agree Hollywould, JJ is slow and can’t take it to the hoop. 120M, yikes !!!

Matt

March 8th, 2011
3:06 pm

Do we have new owners yet? This season blows.

El Bravo

March 8th, 2011
3:10 pm

It seems pretty obvious that the team simply does not listen to LD. I doubt they respect him as a head coach or see him as nothing more than a one year (maybe two) stopgap on that role. Otherwise, I don’t see a way to justify a comment such as “It’s nothing new, [but] now it seems like we are falling into doing it more” or “Our staff, we have brought awareness to the guys. We show them on tape…”. I swear I have seen those comments at least 30 times each during the season and no change (actually, the only change we see is for the worse). This is going to go down as a totally wasted year…

Trojan

March 8th, 2011
3:10 pm

This is the result of the rebuilding process, many lottery picks, massive salary cap space and trades. Sigh….

Double Zero Eight

March 8th, 2011
3:11 pm

Lakers 111……..Hawks 89

Grandad

March 8th, 2011
3:11 pm

Two factors:
* lack of discipline
* Joe’s refusal to adapt
I challenge anyone to to refute this claim.
This is why LD`s motion off stalls !

Grandad

March 8th, 2011
3:13 pm

If memory serves…LD wanted the team to slow down -vs- Denver.

J from the A

March 8th, 2011
3:17 pm

LD usually asks team to slow the pace on the road.
Why? Good question.

J from the A

March 8th, 2011
3:22 pm

I have the Hawks winning 10-12 of their remaining games. I don’t think this will be one of them.

I will, of course, still be watching the game, pulling for the Hawks every moment of the game.

GO HAWKS!

joe

March 8th, 2011
3:22 pm

the best part is when you sit your best ( most consistent) player (AH) in the second quarter because he has 2 fouls and then you lose the game and that player ends up with only 3 fouls at the end of the game….. brilliant !

northcyde

March 8th, 2011
3:24 pm

I would bet that JJ has more assists on fast breaks than any other Hawk, unless he’s surpassed by Smith.

Even in the Knick game, he and Josh had a pretty fast break which JJ threw a lob to Smith for the dunk. And that happens pretty frequently when JJ has the ball and Smith is out running with him.

Samuel

March 8th, 2011
3:24 pm

LD is full of sh_t.

slimjr

March 8th, 2011
3:29 pm

past 12(4-8). Last 19(6-13) freaking brutal………..Not playing like a playoff bound team at all…….._

Guido

March 8th, 2011
3:29 pm

I agree with Grandad. This is becoming fools gold. You cannot run in the playoffs you have to execute eventually. This is the same non-sense that killed Woody going into the postseason. Stop changing the game plan and run the offense when necessary. They need to stop acting like they’re inept to run a half-court set. Blah blah blah blah!!!!!!!!!

slimjr

March 8th, 2011
3:29 pm

Your Hawks will be one and done…………………….Playoffs????

Guido

March 8th, 2011
3:31 pm

Oh it’s a wrap for this poor team they just keep making things too complicated.

Grandad

March 8th, 2011
3:32 pm

In my Coaching career I never said;
— nor —
when I played,
did I ever hear a Coach say;
” winning basketball is built on having fun “.

I don’t recall seeing ” having fun ”
as a block on John Wooden’s ” Pyramid of Success “.

Discipline, hard work, defense, dedication, teamwork, sweat,
hustle, pride, competitive spirit, toughness, heart, fundamentals,
Yessir…..but havin’ fun?
I thought the fun part was after the game when you won the game.

doc

March 8th, 2011
3:34 pm

what were bibby’s numbers and what does capt kirk bring to the table?

doc

March 8th, 2011
3:34 pm

what were bibby’s numbers and what does capt kirk bring to the table?

Guido

March 8th, 2011
3:36 pm

Kirk is solid but turned the ball over a lot in that Knick game

slimjr

March 8th, 2011
3:37 pm

this team does not know how to play smart basketball..They play like a bunch of gym rats…Just clueless out there. They are going to get dismantled tonight!! I am going to watch this ish for real………….7th seed in 3 weeks….

Rufus1

March 8th, 2011
3:45 pm

Those stats…

Those stats confirm an obvious truth… If Josh passes the ball and runs the break it will create an easier chance too score, because team have to respect him as a FINISHER.

If he is leading the break, team know he is suspect on the dribble and will attack him. He also needs to realize that Bibby is in Miami and the other can actually RUN.

mykhalc

March 8th, 2011
3:49 pm

absolutely NOTHING in that article has ANY leadership in it ANYWHERE!!!

Rufus1

March 8th, 2011
3:49 pm

Guido

Kirk turned the ball over Twice….Jamal and Josh turned the ball over 4 times each…Twice is acceptable for your starting PG.

O'Brien

March 8th, 2011
3:55 pm

Samuel and I disagree on a number of issues. However, I must give him some credit.

From day one when LD was hired, Samuel has consistently said the motion offense will not work, because LD will not be able to convince the players to stick with it (especially in crunch time), and the players will revert to what they’re used to. Jump shots, and ISOs.

And thats exactly what they’re doing.

Hollywould

March 8th, 2011
3:57 pm

Northcyde, If Joe leads the team in assists on the break they are in serious trouble. Yeah, he had one assist to JS on the dunk but that guy cannot run a break. He can’t finish unless you count that
floater which is short most of the time. Lakers – 31/2 take it!!!!

O'Brien

March 8th, 2011
3:58 pm

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”.

Does Josh know how to be more selective though? Hasnt that been one of his weaknesses, which is why LD called him kamikaze?

drmaryb (*_*)

March 8th, 2011
4:00 pm

Larry Drew got Jokes?

JeJe

March 8th, 2011
4:00 pm

Where is the weekly LD “I am thinking of switching up the starting lineup?”

LOL I lost a LOT of faith in LD after the Knicks game the other night. The team just went to sleep in the 4th and he didn’t even call a time out

This team’s in trouble if it does not win tonight

LOL this homestand is looking horrendous already

Abe the Fan

March 8th, 2011
4:03 pm

If LD would demand that Josh get the rebound, immediately give the ball to a guard, and run his butt downcourt to get ready to post-up, things would change–JUST THIS ONE TWEAK WOULD MAKE A WORLD OF A DIFFERENCE!

Abe the Fan

March 8th, 2011
4:06 pm

what in the world is JOSH’s issue about bringing the ball downcourt . . . i just don’t get it. he’s the baddest interior player we have AND HE WANTS TO PLAY OUTSIDE OF THE LANE!

Trojan

March 8th, 2011
4:09 pm

I wonder if LD sits downs and laughs with Teague when he makes a bad decision. His lack of consistant leadership is starting to sink this ship. Why can’t Josh be disciplined, why can’t JJ be disciplined? Why can’t JC ever play as a team?

Astro Joe

March 8th, 2011
4:19 pm

So roughly 25% of Josh’s transition possessions end in a turnover? And he is likely a top 5 finisher in the NBA? So the guy who learned all of the plays for all of the positions in the offensive scheme (that hasn’t been very successful) hasn’t figured out that he can help the team sooo much more by filling the lane as opposed to imitating Michael Ray Richardson (with pipe in back pocket)? And I guess this head coach is powerless to do anything about the 25% (as he chuckles about wayward passes that had no chance to turn into points). Wow!

So be honest, MC, don’t you sometimes want to take your recorder and just bang it upside the head of some of these folk you interview? We won’t tell. :twisted:

vava74

March 8th, 2011
4:20 pm

To run you need to defend and get stops.

To defend and get stops you need to limit Jamal’s minutes.

LD says many right things and then does the exact opposite.

mykhalc

March 8th, 2011
4:21 pm

it’s becomin’ more and more clear that LD has NOT made the changes in his relationships with the players goin’ from an asst to HC.

@Trojan…co-sign!!!

TONE

March 8th, 2011
4:30 pm

Lakers by 30 tonight hawks in the lottery next year

tom

March 8th, 2011
4:31 pm

JJ had a break for a dunk in the final seconds of their comeback win against the bulls

Abe the Fan

March 8th, 2011
4:32 pm

It would seem to be that LD could convince Josh to try, for one complete game, getting the rebound, immediately giving the ball to a guard, and hustling downcourt to get position. Josh might have one of the best games of his career if he listened. And tell Marvin the same thing, except he shouldnt post up because he’s a disaster at finishing a play…anyone ever seen him make a move and score or even a layoff on a fast break? Marvin should imitate Ray Allen, hustle to get in position to get the ball, about 20-25 ft out, wait for the ball, catch, set your feet, and shoot it! It’s not that hard people.

J from the A

March 8th, 2011
4:33 pm

re: Josh’s turnovers on the break: To be fair to Josh, the Hawks often didn’t have a guard capable of running the break, so all too often Josh and Al ended up running the break. [Remember Bibby? & It's already been pointed out that JJ's strong points don't involve running the break.]

Now with Kirk and more Teague, perhaps Josh and Al will handle the ball less on the break and will be able to focus on “filling the lanes” on the break.

drmaryb (*_*)

March 8th, 2011
4:37 pm

Doesn’t the POINT in PG mean: The point of attack?
Apparently this organization is the only franchise in the league that doesn’t see the inherent value of a true PG.

Mr. Naismith would roll over in his grave if he knew how his fundamental game has been watered down to a collection of dunks and iso-hero plays.
Learn to play the game the right way. See Larry Brown.

This team got jokes?

Abe the Fan

March 8th, 2011
4:38 pm

Come on “J from the A”, JJ can run a break and Bibby couldnt run but he could pass. Think about it, if Josh and/or Al are running the break, who’s going to finish?!? That only leaves JJ–Bibby and Marvin can’t do it.

John Moe

March 8th, 2011
4:39 pm

I’m so tired of coach Drew. He says all the right things, but when it comes down to actually executing those things, he fails to even come close. Anyone can talk the talk, but, clearly, L.D. can’t walk the walk. Until he actually addresses the issues on the court and takes some disciplinary measures with his favorites to get the point across, I will continue my trend of having zero respect for him.

joey

March 8th, 2011
4:40 pm

the hawks have the talent to beat any team in the nba, but they lack maturity and heart to do it consistentley in a 7 game series in the playoffs

Michael Cunningham

March 8th, 2011
4:41 pm

@ AJ: “So be honest, MC, don’t you sometimes want to take your recorder and just bang it upside the head of some of these folk you interview? We won’t tell.”

usually i just give them the confused, furrowed-brow look.