My eyes tell me the Hawks are better defensively with Kirk Hinrich playing point guard instead of Mike Bibby. Your eyes probably believe the same.
The numbers disagree with us.
They say the Hawks have been slightly better on D with Hinrich on the bench than on the court (that includes all games this season). Of course, the numbers also could be used to make a case that Bibby was a solid defender for the Hawks, a proposition that does not come close to passing the eye test.
Aside: This reminds me of a post by Jeff Fogle at Hoopdata back in February, in which he argued there’s too much “noise” in regular-season defensive stats and concluded: “Don’t think about the correlation between regular season rankings (which can get polluted in a variety of ways), and postseason success as the key. Think about the defensive capabilities inherent with the roster of players in competition…when a championship is on the line…and try to assess that team’s ability to impose its will defensively on the outcome.”
My eyes say the Hawks are much more capable of doing so with Kirk at point guard rather than Bibby. Well, maybe they can’t do it at a championship level, but you know what I mean.
“He certainly makes his guy work,” L.D. said. “He’s not going to stop every point guard we play against but you can clearly see the difference he makes in our lineup defensively.”
One subject where the numbers and the eyes are in agreement is Hinrich’s offense. The Hawks have scored nearly seven more points per 100 possessions with Kirk on the bench. That also includes all games, so Hinrich’s rating is dragged down by Atlanta’s overall offensive nosedive from when all those jump shots were falling earlier this season but he’s been a part of that decline, too.
Hinrich has been up-and-down. After consecutive productive and efficient outings against Philadelphia, New Jersey and Cleveland, after which he said he was getting more comfortable with where he can get his shots, he’s scored 15 points on 19 shots in the last three games.
Hinrich still is producing offensively at the same level as Bibby, which actually might be a positive considering he’s been with the Hawks for less than two months. He hasn’t had a lot of time to figure out how his game fits with the Hawks, and he admits that’s been a tough transition.
“A little bit,” Hinrich said. “Most of all I have to get used to how we play. It’s different. Especially for me, I’ve always played on instincts. We play different than any team I’ve been on.”
He joins Joe and Jamal on the list of Hawks players who have had to fit their offensive style into the team’s concept. But Hinrich actually is shooting well–his effective field-goal percentage (54) is second to Al (56) among the regulars–so maybe the real issue is he just needs more shots (along with Al, but we’ve seen how that’s gone).
There’s not much time for Hinrich to figure things out but he said he should have it down by the postseason.
“I think so,” he said. “I’ve gotten more confident in the last week-and-a-half.”
“His offense, I’m not worried about that at all,” Drew said. “I know he’s a capable scorer and can make shots. That will just be a matter of time.”
Josh sat out practice today because of the right knee.
“It’s sore and he’s got a little swelling,” Drew said. “We will see how he will be tomorrow.”
Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat