Atlanta Hawks: About that backcourt . . ..

My story the other day included the line: “[P]laying Teague more minutes, especially in combination with Hinrich, would improve the defense.”

If the Hawks started that backcourt next season, it would finally signal they are serious about defense. Teague and Hinrich had developed a good defensive chemistry, with Teague as the relentless ball hound and Hinrich as the tough guy shedding screens and challenging shots. And that alignment moves J.J. to the 3, mitigating two of his main defensive weaknesses: containing quicker opponents and chasing anyone through screens.

Using Teague and Hinrich in combination could have benefits for the offense, too, which presumably means there’s a better chance L.D. would do it. Hinrich is a shot-maker who doesn’t need screens to get good looks. Teague showed against the Bulls that he’s capable of getting into the lane and making runners and floaters or setting up cutting teammates (at least when they did cut–watching Dallas last night reminded me of what that’s supposed to look like).

With Teague and Hinrich handling the ball the majority of the time instead of J.J., the Hawks would have a new, dynamic look (assuming fourth quarters aren’t still allowed to always become Iso-Joe shows). Remember when Teague said this regarding playing alongside Hinrich?

“It’s a lot easier. Defensively, you know he’s going to have your help and I am going to have his back. He’s easy to play with. He passes the ball and gets everybody involved. It makes your job a lot easier when you know a guy is willing to give up the ball. He’s a good player.”

In addition, a starting alignment of Teague-Hinrich-J.J. sends Marvin to the bench, where it’s become increasingly clear he belongs and where he might be a better fit, anyway. But there also is one major problem with using the Teague-Hinrich-J.J. alignment on a regular basis: It sends Marvin to the bench. (It also would leave the bench thin on scoring without Jamal, but that’s a topic for another time.)

Marvin, for all his faults, is a pretty good rebounder–his total rebound rate of 10.1 ranked 21st among small forwards who played at least 10 minutes per game, according to Hoopdata. (EDIT: Marvin bottom five in rebounding-rate differential this season. It could cancel out whatever defensive gains are provided by the Teague-Hinrich backcourt because, as the Hawks saw time and time against the Bulls, good defensive effort can go for naught if the opponent is rebounding too many of its misses.

J.J.’s lack of rebounding production looks worse when you compare his strong, 6-7, 240-plus pound frame to those of some of the better rebounders in the league. Guys like Melo (6-8, 230), Mike Miller (6-8, 220), Q-Rich (6-6, 230), Matt Barnes(6-7, 225), Ronnie Brewer (6-7, 230) and so on lack J.J’s physical gifts but are much better on the boards.

How is it that J.J. could push around J-Rich when he wanted to get to his spots on the floor but J-Rich (6-6, 225) is a much better rebounder?

It takes more than brawn to rebound–instincts, awareness, toughness, technique (blocking out) and persistence are also high on the list of desirable attributes. Plus, a lot of the guys who are good rebounders don’t shoulder nearly the same scoring burden as J.J.

But you’d think a guy with J.J.’s size and strength could be better if he focused on rebounding. He was right when he said the Hawks could use more guys to do the dirty work. It’s also true that the Hawks would be a better team, with a potentially better lineup, if J.J. pitched in on that effort.

Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat

406 comments Add your comment

Sherewshevsky

May 24th, 2011
2:04 pm

Assumes Josh is gone? And we get a rebounder, shot blocking center? Good luck.

Michael Cunningham

May 24th, 2011
2:10 pm

@Sherewshevsky: “Assumes Josh is gone? And we get a rebounder, shot blocking center? Good luck.”

no, not assuming that. Al and Josh are good rebounders. Zaza and Marvin are pretty good. after that there’s really no one.

Jay

May 24th, 2011
2:11 pm

MC,

Is there any fire to the smoke of the rumor of a Smoove for Bynum deal?

Thanks in Advance

lea

May 24th, 2011
2:14 pm

there is no rumor about Smoove for Bynum

Marcus

May 24th, 2011
2:16 pm

MC,
as far as my request the other day (”cherry-pick players to make Hawks better…”), I think your subsequent blog “5 positive signs for next year” (or similarly titled) answered the question, esp. Item No. 2 about getting some scrappers/dirty work guys.

My initial thought was that, keeping the ATL guys whose existing contracts/importance to the team most likely wont result in a trade (Al, JJ, Hinrich, and possibly Smoove) which current NBA players are the best available fit as the “missing pieces” for what ails us.
You can toss in a trade for Marvin if his departure brings back a meaningful player who fits what we need.

Michael Cunningham

May 24th, 2011
2:18 pm

@Jay: “MC, Is there any fire to the smoke of the rumor of a Smoove for Bynum deal? Thanks in Advance”

no. . . . as far as i can tell, that came from speculation on a fan blog.

Jay

May 24th, 2011
2:21 pm

Thanks MC, long off season coming

Fundamentals

May 24th, 2011
2:26 pm

Joe can rebound and would have more opportunity if he were consistently at the 3. It’s hard to block out when you’re playing on the perimeter. The real question if you move Joe to SF, what happens with the whole “getting an impact center”? What happens to Josh and Al who are both left at PF?

Joe needs to be the leader and outwardly say “WE NEED to do the dirty work, and WE WILL” and alot of our problems are solved.

Fundamentals

May 24th, 2011
2:27 pm

Is Gladyr coming over for summer league & preseason action?

Marcus

May 24th, 2011
2:27 pm

Given our $$$ constraints (a new CBA nothwithstanding) and their collective lack of contributions, I would expect Hilton, Josh P., and Etan to get some walking papers.
The mini-bench mob (too nice for mob, maybe glee club): J. Collins is still serviceable in spots, D. Wilkins fits a role, and I suspect the Hawks brass want to see if Magnum Rolle can contribute or if his name is tougher than his game. Same with Pape Sy.

Can we trade more of the rights we have to some of those international players for 2nd round picks or some compensation to get better depth?

Michael Cunningham

May 24th, 2011
2:28 pm

@Jay: “Thanks MC, long off season coming”

no kidding. this CBA thing is driving me crazy. to be honest, i’m having a hard time coming up with stuff to write because no one knows what the new rules will look like. i went down the list of free agents and wondered who the Hawks might be able to afford, but hard to do that when i don’t know if there will be exceptions, how much they will be worth, the luxury tax level, etc.

Michael Cunningham

May 24th, 2011
2:33 pm

@Marcus: “My initial thought was that, keeping the ATL guys whose existing contracts/importance to the team most likely wont result in a trade (Al, JJ, Hinrich, and possibly Smoove) which current NBA players are the best available fit as the “missing pieces” for what ails us.”

i’d say three major things that ail the Hawks as presently constructed are an over-reliance on jump shots, rebounding and toughness. looking at the list of FAs for guys who might realistically be signed for cheap, a guy who could help with those is Kirilenko. he gets to the line, gets blocks and steals, and rebounds almost as well as Marvin. he comes with lots of injury risk but guys available for cheap are going to have some downside.

Battier is another interesting guy but i suspect he will be able to get more cash, assuming such a thing is possible for a player like him under the new rules.

LionHearted

May 24th, 2011
2:35 pm

I have noticed that JJ isn’t a good rebounder. Rebounding is about effort and desire.

Joe should be embarrassed by how timid he is. I know he probably has the fall he had in PHX on his mind but still he can’t play scared all the time.

Magic Johnson

May 24th, 2011
2:35 pm

You forgot speed. Speed helps sometimes.

“J.J.’s lack of rebounding production looks worse when you compare his strong, 6-7, 240-plus pound frame to those of some of the better rebounders in the league. Guys like Melo (6-8, 230), Mike Miller (6-8, 220), Q-Rich (6-6, 230), Matt Barnes(6-7, 225), Ronnie Brewer (6-7, 230) and so on lack J.J’s physical gifts but are much better on the boards.”

Quentin Richardson: 6′6¼” (230+) 7′½ wingspan
Carmelo: 6′7.5″ (236) 7′0 wingspan
Jason Richardson: 6′5.75″ (213) 6′11½
Ronnie Brewer: 6′6.75 (223) 6′11¼ wingspan
Mike Miller: 6′ 7.5″ 6′ 9.5″

Joe Johnson: 6′8.25″ (240+) 6′9
Matt Barnes: 6′ 8″, (220+) 6′9″ wingspan
::::::::::
Joe Johnson is has strength and a fluid stroke but his lack of speed and arm length leads to less than stellar rebounding. Rebounding is not all about height.

Michael Cunningham

May 24th, 2011
2:37 pm

@Fundamentals: “Joe can rebound and would have more opportunity if he were consistently at the 3. It’s hard to block out when you’re playing on the perimeter.”

maybe, but even when compared to his peers at shooting guard he doesn’t rate highly. at the 3, he (theoretically) would be facing better rebounders more nights than he did at the 2.

“The real question if you move Joe to SF, what happens with the whole “getting an impact center”? What happens to Josh and Al who are both left at PF?”

this is a problem. pretty much all the problems with roster balance come back to this. Al sounds more and more like he wants nothing to do with banging in the post. he looked like it, too, vs. Noah.

Michael Cunningham

May 24th, 2011
2:37 pm

@Fundamentals: “Joe can rebound and would have more opportunity if he were consistently at the 3. It’s hard to block out when you’re playing on the perimeter.”

maybe, but even when compared to his peers at shooting guard he doesn’t rate highly. at the 3, he (theoretically) would be facing better rebounders more nights than he did at the 2.

“The real question if you move Joe to SF, what happens with the whole “getting an impact center”? What happens to Josh and Al who are both left at PF?”

this is a problem. pretty much all the problems with roster balance come back to this. Al sounds more and more like he wants nothing to do with banging in the post. he looked like it, too, vs. Noah.

Fundamentals

May 24th, 2011
2:37 pm

Ramon – when I called out the rebounding I’ll agree Josh and Al do their part at times, but Marvin doesn’t in terms of getting us a strong rebounding front court. Even adding Collins doesn’t help us control the boards as we need to. We never quite tested starting ZaZa to inspire him and allowing Collins to be a real back-up. Drew just never quite knew who to play and when consistently. He flopped between new ideas, new line ups and basically being Woodson all season. I think it did much to derail chemistry.

Here’s what we have available in our minimob:
Jamal – says he’d like to stay, but we all know $$ will prevent that.
Marvin – needs to be traded somewhere he can blossom.
Collins – serviceable big who needs minutes to stay in shape.
ZaZa – needs minutes to stay focussed. Dreams of a starting C role.
Sy – shows the “blue collar” effort and size we need at SG/SF.
Rolle – seems to have some upside as a SF/PF option.
Damien – can fill a niche here, but do we need him over slots?
Hilton – Can he develop into a serviceable backup? Seems possible.
Etan – wasn’t utilized, didn’t fit, sorry.
Josh P – wasn’t a good fit, showed promise and then fell off the wagon.

7 positions that will change or need resigning. Marvin/Smoove/Joe/Al to shop? Sund has options, but will the impending CBA and his slow nature leave us w/o options? Time will tell.

SteveW

May 24th, 2011
2:38 pm

One part of me says JJ would do well at the 3 – He has a 3’s body and skill set in many ways.

But another part of me struggles to take a 5 time All Star and move him full time to a new position.

I still like a BC rotation of Teague, Hinrich, and JJ. Hinrich can play 1 or 2, so he’s ideal.

Now if we could somehow get Prince, Battier, or maybe even Grant Hill (ancient, but had a good season) to play the 3, and move Marvin to the bench, I may feel more comfortable with a move like that. I may even try out a Mike Dunleavy.

I think the big winner this off season in the vet minimum sweepstakes is going to be the Heat. There are alot of potential vet min. guys that look to be very good this next season, and think the Heat will have them lined up to go to them.

1 guy I wish the Hawks would go after, but he’ll probably be to much is Barea. I think he would fit great here. But LD would be concerned about him being posted up or something and not play him.

South ga boy in the atl

May 24th, 2011
2:40 pm

This is exactly what I have been screaming for provided we trade Josh or Al. We can’t think we will go to the top with 2 power forwards (one of them very undisciplined) in the post. GET A CENTER ASG OR WHOEVER OWNS THE TEAM

SteveW

May 24th, 2011
2:41 pm

And if we had Chucky Hayes to back up Josh, that would be a good situation also in my opinion.

KevinM

May 24th, 2011
2:42 pm

MC, I gotta disagree here:
“Marvin, for all his faults, is a pretty good rebounder–his total rebound rate of 10.1 ranked 21st among small forwards who played at least 10 minutes per game, according to Hoopdata”

When you rank 21st, doesn’t that tell you that he is less than average?
No way that can be considered a very good rebounder as a SF?

Magic Johnson

May 24th, 2011
2:45 pm

“Al sounds more and more like he wants nothing to do with banging in the post.”
Brandon Bass and Ryan Anderson. Taj Gibson, Chris Bosh
And this is Atlanta’s future?

Fundamentals

May 24th, 2011
2:47 pm

Barea has enough tenacity to hold his own…unlike most of our players.

Joe/Hinrich/Teague backcourt leads more and more to LD choosing Hinrich over Teague and on to the same discussions as this year. Either go with the kid at the point and contruct the offense around his speed/penetration or go back to Woody ball or LD’s Motionless Offense.

Joe’s rebounding is a lack of toughness and desire, not physical gifts or skill. Dude can and will rebound in certain situations, but not always…kinda like Jamal’s defense. It’s amazing…when he wants to.

Fundamentals

May 24th, 2011
2:50 pm

Does Hoopdata figure in garbage time when many of these players are cleaning up their stats? It’s obvious who does and who doesn’t give the effort in certain areas on this team.

Blue Collar Dirty Work is not our strong suit.

MC – Yes, Al wants to be a pansy on the perimeter. He’s got his contract. He’s gradually getting away from the tough physical play that got him that contract. I love the elbow jumper, but it’s now 100% of his game instead of a new wrinkle in the arsenal. Dude’s gotta get back to what brough him to the forefront to begin with.

If Josh can actually play to his strengths he’ll be our only All Star next season. Joe & Al will wane to others if they don’t significantly improve their desire and skills over the summer. Josh has them, he’s just not smart enough to use them. He’s like a mechanic will a full set of tools using a butter knife to loosen a screw.

Michael Cunningham

May 24th, 2011
2:58 pm

@KevinM: “When you rank 21st, doesn’t that tell you that he is less than average?
No way that can be considered a very good rebounder as a SF?”

well, that’s for guys who play 10+ minutes. as you play more minutes, it becomes harder to maintain that rate. for instance, if you limit it to SF who played at least 25 minutes, Marvin ranks ninth in rebounding rate.

but i can see why you question it. i probably should have used a better comparison.

Fundamentals

May 24th, 2011
3:04 pm

It’s obvious that Marvin has talent, that’s why he’s such a firestorm on this blog, but dude just doesn’t fit and it seems, since we can’t trade him we severely overpaid. What can we do MC? Give us some options?

Chris

May 24th, 2011
3:10 pm

Yea…what’s up with Sergiy Gladyr

JDK

May 24th, 2011
3:10 pm

MC : Putting aside the uncertainty of the CBA (yes, you can do it), do you believe the Hawks will make a major trade? Call it now, please.

Jon

May 24th, 2011
3:11 pm

Hello MC. Any word on the MRI results from Jeff Teague’s wrist last Tuesday?

Hawk n the Ham

May 24th, 2011
3:14 pm

@MC, if Teague and Kirk are both starters on the floor, they are the only point guards the team has. Who would the the 1st guard to come in off the bench? This is taking in consideration that Crawford is a goner…..

JoJo the Godfather

May 24th, 2011
3:15 pm

One thought as we all ponder and dream of trade proposals. Because Al just signed his contract, his returning trade value is only roughly $5.5M, which means any trade that involves Al will save us roughly $6.5M vs his 2011/2012 salary of $12M. So let’s say you want to trade Al to NJ for Brook Lopez, Damion James & a draft pick. It would work under the current trade rules, and we’d have $6M+ less in salary for next year.

Neki Ecko

May 24th, 2011
3:17 pm

Hey, MC

I hope that you feel alittle bit better.

First thing first, what is your feeling about the issues that is going on with the ASG and how that is going to translate to the Hawks since they will probably be the ones that get hit the hardest from this situation.

Besides it is very hard to gauge what the Hawks can do until the CBA (and know them, they probably sell the second round pick again for a Happy Meal) but I think we will have to traded somebody including Marvin to get better.

For that backcourt, it is really hard to gauge at this time because of the CBA and what we can do because of all that money tied up.

Marvin will be a 20ppg scorer

May 24th, 2011
3:19 pm

@MC

you came from Miami, where the Heat wasted Beasly, a former #2 pick by playing him at pf, but have you ever seen a franchise draft two guys in the top 3 and waste both picks for two average at best players?..Al( playing a 6ft8 guy at center who is a pf and clearly better than the guy playing pf), Marvin( changing his game, making him a catch a shoot player for Joe Johnson)?

joey1

May 24th, 2011
3:32 pm

trading josh would be plain stupid…. we lose almost our whole defense… we need to trade marvin williams and horford for andrew bogut …then sign thad..young(formet gt player) for the small forward posititon..and sign a few hard nosed defenders and shooter to come off the bench…

imagaine.. teague,johnson, young, smith,bogut
bench – kirk,sign player,wilkins,sign player,zaza

Danny

May 24th, 2011
3:46 pm

Battier would be a great addition to this club if for no other reason than his mental toughness and leadership. Al is a PF – Smith is a great trade piece – as much as I like him he is the obvious choice to go, and you have to give up quality to get quality. As for Marvin…start a back court of JT, Kirk – trade JJ (like we could) and and start Marvin and AL at the forward spots. Then he might finally blossom. His game can’t coexist with JJ’s. It’s all a dream anyway…we’ll probably be doing this for the next 5 years.

Nathan

May 24th, 2011
3:47 pm

I sai d we should do this and people thought i an idiot(hawks for life and some one else.) Put Joe at the 3 Al at the 4 Trade Josh for Bynum( even though he did that play he will make this team take the next step).
Resign jamal and Trade Marvin for a draft pick to get some to replace Joe at the 3 in the future.

GT Alum

May 24th, 2011
3:48 pm

With regard to the five reasons for optimism article, especially the second point, the big problem is there’s caveats to those points for optimism.

As far as obtaining dirty work players, haven’t we been looking for those kind of guys for a while, especially guys on the frontline who can rebound and defend? And the best we’ve ended up with are guys like Etan and Powell, who, if they have much to offer, haven’t gotten a chance to show it on the floor. And Twin had some pretty miserable years for the Hawks before displaying some usefulness this year.

And you somewhat contradict yourself with your statements about being able to get cheap role players and possibly having to get players who can score in different ways. The Hawks need players who can put up significant points when the shots aren’t falling. Guys who are that good at getting to the basket or scoring in the paint don’t generally come cheap. For the Hawks to be good at scoring when shots aren’t falling without changing the core of this team, JJ’s going to need to be able to get to the basket and finish consistently, as well as post up when he’s got a smaller player on him, instead of always trying to beat him facing up. Also, Horford has to improve his post presence, regardless of whether he’s at PF or C, and Josh has to realize that he’s a far more dynamic player when he’s around the basket (which, given his recent statements, doesn’t seem imminent).

I still don’t see this team getting to the conference finals with this core if they don’t develop their games more.

Nathan

May 24th, 2011
3:49 pm

never mind abouut the 3 for the future we have Sy trade jamal and marvin and keep pachulia and sign with alot of money now a good backup PF,sg and PG.

STRETCH

May 24th, 2011
3:56 pm

I would love to see:

Teague
Hinrich
JJ
AHorford
Bynum or any legit C

Bench:
JJ Barea
McGrady/Sy
Williams/Wilkins
Hilton/Rolle
ZaZa/Collins

IceColdATLien

May 24th, 2011
3:57 pm

It’s really simple, folks. There isn’t a C available that’s worth giving up Smith. If Bynum became available (which he won’t), then there’s a possibility. Other than that we gotta face the fact that we should just hope to lose Jamal in a sign and trade to get another backup guard with quickness and maybe a serviceable backup C.

Here’s how we make some noise next year using what we already have… which is really the most plausible scenario (barring some crazy result of a new CBA): Start Jeff, Joe, Damian, Al, and Zaza with Kirk, Marvin, and Smith off the bench (not in that order). You start with a defensive mindset and team-focused play with clear roles 1 through 5.

Wilkins can always take the better of the opposing SG/SF, relieving Joe of some defensive work, and Zaza can start banging from the gate so Al doesn’t have to do so himself the entire game.

All of a sudden the bench looks like a strength instead of a weakness. Kirk can come in at either G spot. Marvin can come in with Jamal-like instructions to just gun without thinking (which is where Marv always runs into trouble with that confidence) and just hustle everywhere for 24 min/game. Smoove will still get starter’s minutes (35/game) but with specific instructions to evenly fill out the stat sheet and not worry so much about scoring. Twin does his “big-man thing” vs. Dwight et al, and we fill out the other positions as best as possible.

It’s not sexy or earth-shattering, but we’re not likely to get what we deserve for Smoove and these are the players we got. LD just needs to redeploy those assets so that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

GT Alum

May 24th, 2011
4:02 pm

Marvin will be a 20 ppg scorer -

Marvin showed signs of progress up to 2008-09 while playing next to JJ, which is why he got his current contract. And even since then, he’s shown that he can have success when being aggressive and trying to get to the basket. He’s seriously regressed the past 2 years, though. The only explanation I can think of is, even though he only lost a few mins per game, the acquisition of Crawford somehow affected him.

However, complaining that JJ forces Marvin to be a spot-up shooter is about as valid as Josh’s complaining that the offense pulls him away from the basket and forces him to take jumpers. It does happen, but the bigger problem is that neither one of them consistently takes the initiative to attack the basket and maximizes their potential. Marvin sounds like he’s waiting for a coach to design an offense for him. If Marvin was willing to play the role that Chillz did for this team, he could be a valuable player. But he hasn’t shown that initiative.

Booo!

May 24th, 2011
4:03 pm

Does anyone else find it dissapinting that Al has turned into Mr. softie? I mean, you got 6′7 Joel Anthony in the post snagging rebounds and blocking shots. You got guys like carl Landry and Chuck Hayes can get down in the paint and they’re like 6′5 at best. WTH is wrong with Al?

I think Dwight really took his manhood back in the 09-10′ playoffs Smh…

Fundamentals

May 24th, 2011
4:05 pm

Prediction of what we have signed next year and options:

PG – Teague/Hinrich/Sy
SG – Hinrich/Sy/Joe – maybe keep Damien add Gladyr
SF -Joe/Marvin/Josh – maybe keep Rolle
PF – Al/Josh – utlize Rolle?
C – ZaZa/Al – w/ possibly Collins and or Hilton or make a trade?

8 definites, plus Damien, Collins, Hilton takes us to 11 w/ 4 slots to fill. Gladyr, Rolle, Free Agent & Draft Pick?

We’ll lose Etan, Josh Powell – add PG & C prospect. Hopefully more, but get real. This is most likely our options moving forward.

Booo!

May 24th, 2011
4:06 pm

Hawk n the Ham,

Thats why we should draft Shelvin Mack in the 2nd roud out of Butler.

oldmike

May 24th, 2011
4:12 pm

What we need to hope for is a change in ownership that brings an upgrade to the commitment to improving and winning. If the Bulls can do it with at best lesser parts – DRose notwithstanding – then why can’t we? It seems like we are cursed. Never had a number one pick. Never did a great job picking when we did. On and on. At least we didn’t trade away talent to make the playoffs for one player (who left right away) and then get swept like the Thrashers did.

Rod from College Park

May 24th, 2011
4:12 pm

During the playoffs this year, I heard LD say many times that we needed to attack the basket. In looking at the playoff stats, Josh had 67 free throw attempts for the playoffs. Our two All Stars Horford and Joe combined for 68 free throw attempts. Which guy is uncoachable? LOL

oldmike

May 24th, 2011
4:13 pm

even if mack is good he’ll die on the bench.

gadams

May 24th, 2011
4:17 pm

I hope the Hawks keep Josh Smith, he was great in the playoffs.

Booo!

May 24th, 2011
4:21 pm

Rod,

Excellent point LOL

Booo!

May 24th, 2011
4:26 pm

I mean seriously, I didn’t see Al flex in front of the camera once during the playoffs(probably because he only dunked like twice in two rounds of postseason action). Not even Once! You KNOW it’s bad when when Al’s not Flexin’.

Veeeery un-Boss-Like. Al needs to stop listenin’ to Tito Horford and hit the weights. Don’t know where his heads at…