Atlanta Hawks: Camp Report Day 5

The Hawks want to run more often than they did last season. It makes sense when you look at their personnel.

“They call can get up and down the floor, which gives us I think a tremendous advantage in transition if we commit to the run, which I am really trying to get these guys to do,” Larry Drew said. “Jeff [Teague] can really exchange ends. Joe [Johnson] can run. Marvin [Williams] can run. Josh Smith is a deer and Al [Horford] is probably as fast as any five man in the league.

“Running, to me, it has to be habit-forming. It can’t be just a sometimes thing. When you develop that habit it becomes a part of who you are.”

We’ve heard this before. Before last season the Hawks said they would run more often. And then, according to Synergy Sports Technology, they ended up ranking 11th among Eastern Conference teams in the percentage of their total possessions used (shot, free throw or turnover) in transition and tied for sixth in points per possession in transition (1.14).

Turnovers were the biggest reason the Hawks weren’t a more efficient running team: 13 percent of their transition possessions ended with a turnover, worst in the East. Josh Smith was the leading offender with 20.6 percent of his transition possessions used ended with a turnover. Al Horford wasn’t far behind at 18.2 percent but he only used 77 transition possessions while Josh used a team-high 223.

I looked at the video of Josh’s 44 turnovers in transition. It confirmed my subjective view that the vast majority of his turnovers in transition are by way of bad passes: 32 of the 44 by my count, with eight coming on the dribble (though I thought two of those should have been credited to others for bad passes to Josh) and four on charging fouls.

Josh is a pretty good ball-handler in the open court but he often tried to make what Larry Drew called “hero” passes that got swallowed up in traffic, sailed out of bounds or clanged off the backboard. (Frequently heard from Dominique Wilkins during those clips: “There’s where Josh needs to give the ball to a guard. I can’t say it enough.” And oft-repeated by Bob Rathbun: “Josh with the rebound. . . throws it away.”)

Josh would be better off finishing the play himself. He shot 69.8 percent in transition, induced fouls on 14.3 of possessions used and had 15 and-1s–all team highs–and his 69.8 field-goal percentage was second to Al (76.8).

Al, by the way, also led the Hawks with 1.3 points per possession used in transition, suggesting that he should be involved in the fast break more often. So should Marvin Williams, who was second on the team in the percentage of fouls drawn on transition possessions used (13.8 percent) with a low turnover percentage (5.2)

This is where Teague comes in.

“It’s perfect for me,” Teague said of the plan to run more. “That’s the big thing I tried to come in and preach to the guys when I got here is I want to start pushing the ball. We are still young. We are a young team we’ve got to use that to our advantage and use it.”

I’m thinking Al and Marvin should benefit from Teague making more of the decisions on the break. I’m thinking Josh will give it up to Teague because he knows Teague will run with him. It’s not hard to imagine that combination regularly ending with lob dunks, especially since Josh is lighter and faster.

“He looks a lot more explosive, too,” Teague said. “I see him dunking the ball every time now.”

Teague looked to run more than any other Hawks player Last season he had the highest percentage of possessions used in transition among Hawks regulars (23). He turned it over on 9.6 percent of those transition possessions used, drew fouls on 11.4 percent and scored 1.13 points per possession.

Just 10.8 percent of Mike Bibby’s possessions used were in transition, though he was efficient (1.29 points per possession) in large part because he made 16 of 33 3-point attempts on the break, and 13 percent of Jamal’s possessions used were in transition with a good foul percentage (10.7).

To run, the Hawks will have to rebound. Look at how each player’s s defensive rebounding rate ranks among NBA players at their position with more than 15 minutes per game, and it’s not hard to see who needs to pick it up (all rankings according to Hoopdata.com): Al (13th among centers), Josh (15th PFs), Teague (tied for 13th PGs but played less than 15 minutes per game) Joe (25th SGs), Marvin (23rd SFs)

The 6-7 shooting guard with the chiseled body and the 6-9, athletic small forward should not be average or slightly better at defensive rebounding for their position.

“I’m going to challenge both of those guys this year to be better rebounders than they have been in the past,” Drew said. “There is no reason those guys can’t become better rebounders. They have the size. They have the bodies. Rebounding is a dirty job. We are going to challenge them. When we can get the two or the three on glass, they can initiate a fast break effectively. They’ve got to pull more weight in that area. We’ve got to get more rebounding from those spots.”

So, to summarize how the Hawks might improve their transition offense: Run more often, let Teague makes the decisions, send Josh to the rim, get Marvin and Al more involved, and prod J.J. and Marvin to rebound more so there will be more opportunities to run.

Camp report

  • Got to see more scrimmage action today. The thing that stood out was Pape Sy’s defensive aggressiveness. He made hay chasing around J.J. and didn’t back down.
  • Is there a chance Pape can help the Hawks this year? “There’s a chance,” Drew said. “He really looks good thus far. It looks like playing in the D-League and playing over in Europe helped him because he’s playing at a different level from a confidence standpoint. When he came in for the first camp he might have been a little overwhelmed. But now he looks more comfortable and doesn’t have that deer in the headlight look in his eye.”
  • Physically, Sy has the potential to be a good defender. “He’s got the quickness, the size, the length to be a pretty good defensive player, particularly at the top of the floor,” Drew said. “Playng against Jeff every day really helps him out a lot. He has to adjust how to defend guys with the kind of speed. You are not going to go against a guy with that speed every day so if you can keep [Teague] in front of you, then you have a pretty good chance with everyone else.”
  • Drew said he still views Sy as a point guard. Teague, Sy, Donald Sloan, Brad Wanamaker and Tracy McGrady are taking turns. “We have to look at this thing realitsicaly,” Drew said. “God forbid that Jeff is out, then we are scrambling at the point guard spot. We have to make sure that we look at each guy individually and very seriously. Hopefully one of those guys will break away from the pack.”
  • Kirk Hinrich shot baskets after practice. He said he asked his doctor for clearance on Monday. Hinrich still can’t move his left arm from side to side and can’t lift it very far above his head.
  • It looks like the market for Jamal Crawford softened once Chauncey Billups, Vince Carter, Richard Hamilton and Gilbert Arenas became available. Mike Wells of the Indy Star reported Crawford turned down a two-year, $10 million offer (with opt 2012-13 opt out) from the Pacers and SI.com’s Chris Mannix says Crawford is considering similar offers from the Kings and Blazers and less money from the Knicks.
  • Check my Twitter feed for comments from Chris Webber, Steve Smith and Kenny Smith about why they think none of the superstar players include the Hawks on their lists of preferred destinations. I’m writing a story on the topic for Sunday’s AJC.
  • To those who asked in last blog: Posted late because I had to break down these transition stats. I also heard Hawks were trying to somehow get back in the Jamal sweepstakes and had to check it out (they’re not). But glad to hear you missed me.

Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat

354 comments Add your comment

zek

December 13th, 2011
11:41 pm

Run more sounds good but we need a center bad al horford is a PF not a center we should have traded marvin and maybe zaza and went after nene or d’andre jordan that’s our only hold back and we need and by trading marving and zaza we could resign jamal crawford i should be the hawks GM

Najeh Davenpoop

December 13th, 2011
11:42 pm

“There’s where Josh needs to give the ball to a guard. I can’t say it enough.”

Fortunately, now he has a guard who can actually run to whom he can give the ball.

DSC

December 13th, 2011
11:44 pm

Michael Cunningham

December 13th, 2011
11:44 pm

@zek: “Run more sounds good but we need a center bad al horford is a PF not a center.”

but he’s a good center for running. he’s a pretty good rebounder, he can handle the ball and he can run the floor.

Najeh Davenpoop

December 13th, 2011
11:45 pm

By the way MC, these camp reports have been great, but this one is probably your best so far. That break down of what the Hawks need to do in transition was perfect.

Huh?

December 13th, 2011
11:45 pm

But, but, but I thought Josh was getting too much blame?!?!?!!

Buddy Grizzard

December 13th, 2011
11:48 pm

Josh Smif, All-Star.

UGA

December 13th, 2011
11:49 pm

Who is left for the Hawks to sign???? Are they done????? Seriously, are we going to sign a Carlos Arroyo and Francisco Elson and be done?

Michael Redd would be a nice get for us as a backup SG or are we serious with Stack?

BEN

December 13th, 2011
11:49 pm

MC, So why are we not signing a legit Center? Is there no one out there other than cheeseburger collins

Slimjr

December 13th, 2011
11:53 pm

Sund took his Christmas break a little too early..lol

Najeh Davenpoop

December 13th, 2011
11:53 pm

“Check my Twitter feed for comments from Chris Webber, Steve Smith and Kenny Smith about why they think none of the superstar players include the Hawks on their lists of preferred destinations. I’m writing a story on the topic for Sunday’s AJC.”

Steve Smith was on point. C-Webb’s argument defeats itself. If he feels sorry for Joe when D-Rose or NY come to town, the logical conclusion of that is that if the Hawks had D-Rose or Melo/Amare, the fans would react the same way for them that they do now. Those die-hard fans who packed the arena in Sac-town when he was there weren’t so die-hard last year. Dallas packs the house for every game, but if you look at their attendance before the Cuban-Nowitzki era, that city was even more apathetic about the Mavs than ATL is about the Hawks.

It all traces back to ownership and management, like Smitty said. Superstars want to play for stable, well-run organizations. Fans have confidence in organizations that are stable and well-run. Fans don’t have confidence in ownership groups that sue each other and GMs who pass up superstars for mediocre players in the draft and let key players walk because they don’t want to spend luxury tax money.

Slimjr

December 13th, 2011
11:54 pm

Teague= Allstar for real..

Teague= “THE BLUR”

Michael Cunningham

December 13th, 2011
11:54 pm

@Najeh: thanks. . . . just wish i got to see more scrimmage and that what i did see wasn’t mucked up by camp bodies. it can look really ragged so sometimes it’s hard to evaluate, especially since they do it at the end of practice when everyone is fatigued.

wall

December 13th, 2011
11:55 pm

MC..Howz T-mac playing>Does he look fit?

Slimjr

December 13th, 2011
11:56 pm

The Hawks will wrestle for the #1 seed!

Reality Check

December 13th, 2011
11:58 pm

When the front office shows that they are seriously committed to winning a championship, not just playoff banners, Atlanta shows up.

The Braves had it, but they lost their way, made dumb trades, and started falling back on the division title banners. Hawks don’t have half of that credibility and never make moves to show they’re serious about a trophy. The Falcons are getting there, just waiting for the bitter Vick-fans to come back. :)

Rev in Tampa

December 13th, 2011
11:59 pm

“Turnovers were the biggest reason the Hawks weren’t a more efficient running team: 13 percent of their transition possessions ended with a turnover, worst in the East. Josh Smith was the leading offender…”

That brick that Josh threw against the backboard against the Lakers last year was very offensive.

Slimjr

December 14th, 2011
12:01 am

“The Falcons are getting there, just waiting for the bitter Vick-fans to come back.”

It will be a long wait with B-P Melt at the QB slot…and getting killed in the playoffs 3 straight years..

Michael Cunningham

December 14th, 2011
12:01 am

@Ben: “MC, So why are we not signing a legit Center? Is there no one out there other than cheeseburger collins”

the minimum is not going to get you much at center. Kwame Brown just got $7 mil from the Warriors. Aaron Gray, Jamaal Magliore and Kurt Thomas were signed. about all that’s left in Atlanta’s price range is Erick Dampier, Etan Thomas and Dan Gadzuric.

Michael Cunningham

December 14th, 2011
12:02 am

@UGA: i think Sund still is looking for a PG but Drew’s comments regarding maybe using Sy, Sloan, Wanamaker, T-Mac at PG makes me wonder how hard they are looking.

Slimjr

December 14th, 2011
12:02 am

When T-Mac says he feels real good, you know we are in for a real treat as fans!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Najeh Davenpoop

December 14th, 2011
12:03 am

“The Falcons are getting there, just waiting for the bitter Vick-fans to come back.”

Since 2008, the Joe/Woody/Drew/Knight/Sund Hawks have won 17 playoff games. The Ryan/Smith/Dimitroff Falcons have won zero. Until they prove otherwise, the Falcons are no closer to “getting there” than the Hawks are.

Michael Cunningham

December 14th, 2011
12:04 am

@ Rev in Tampa: “That brick that Josh threw against the backboard against the Lakers last year was very offensive.”

Rathbun’s call on that one: “And Josh Smith clanks another one off the backboard.”

BoneKollector

December 14th, 2011
12:05 am

Yes I’ve been saying it forever Josh doesn’t need the ball in his hands in transition. Let the PG handle that and u just get down the court and set up.

Reality Check

December 14th, 2011
12:06 am

Let’s be honest, Slim Jr… Even if we had Aaron Rodgers under center, you’d still take shots because he’s not MV7. Averaging 10 wins per season isn’t enough unless Vick does it.

i_am_soulstar

December 14th, 2011
12:09 am

Appreciate these daily Camp Reports MC.

Reality Check

December 14th, 2011
12:10 am

I actually agree with you, Najeh… The Hawks deserve more credit than they are given. But do you honestly think the Hawks are closer to an NBA championship than the Falcons to the Lombardi? And do you think the rest of the Atlanta believes the same?

Rev in Tampa

December 14th, 2011
12:11 am

@ Reality Check – Averaging 10 wins a season isn’t enough unless you are advancing through the playoffs regardless of the QB.

MB in SC

December 14th, 2011
12:12 am

I absolutely can’t wait to see this group play together. The Hawks and Heat have the potential to be the two most exciting teams this year. Don’t discount the chemistry level these guys have, especially considering how many teams are still in flux. If they can avoid the blowouts, look out!

Looks like the Celtics have been snacking on Twinkies and are now making excuses: http://proxy.espn.go.com/nba/local/link?id=4087228

superiorblogman

December 14th, 2011
12:14 am

My posting is already slowing due to losing interest. We all know that running only sounds good in the regular season and against teams that are not serious about winning a title. We don’t want to get into a scoring match with a team like New York who has bigger better players for running. We don’t want to try and run with the Heat. We don’t want to try and run with any D Rose led team. The fact is that teams like Chicago and New York could both run us off the floor and they have legit Centers. This whole running thing does not hide the fact that we don’t have a legit C and are not a serious team. We are not exactly Phoenix, we don’t exactly have Nash and by the way Phoenix has never seen a NBA finals with Nash and all those situations trying to play Amare at Center.

Team just isn’t serious enough for my temperature.

JSS

December 14th, 2011
12:17 am

@ Reality Check…
It will never happen… The people who gave up on the Falcons aren’t ever coming back… The 5 NFL games that I’ve been to this year were in Dallas, San Diego, Pittsburgh, and Phoenix… I went to the Saints/Falcons, but I did not buy the tickets (Arthur will never get a dime from as long he’s hunting a publicly funded stadium)… The hiring of Petrino, the Vick debacle, and the “whole you’re not welcome here” environment is going to take a new owner to clear that out… It is so bigger than Vick now…

Ra'mon

December 14th, 2011
12:17 am

MC, Is Joe moving quicker this season than the past couple of seasons?

Also, to everyone saying that Josh should’ve given up the ball on the transition to run in the past, fail to realize part of the main subject of the article. Before Teague (Bibby), Josh didn’t have a point guard who WOULD run CONSISTENTLY for him to give it up to, and feel like he would get it back.

Reality Check

December 14th, 2011
12:22 am

I agree that every playoff win matters. Or at least, it should.

So why does the Hawks blog feature more whining from fans than the others local teams combined? Clearly it’s not MC’s fault, he’s a good guy and interacts with the fans.

Michael Cunningham

December 14th, 2011
12:30 am

@Ra’mon: “MC, Is Joe moving quicker this season than the past couple of seasons?”

he definitely looks spry. i think he’s highly motivated to have a good year.

JSS

December 14th, 2011
12:32 am

@ Reality Check…
There is a segment of Thrashers fans (which I happened to be) are just never going to forgive the DASG. They are like old IRA supporters, they never care who they hurt or how foolish they look to the outside world. The rest are the 5150 POAD type who feel that undermining the product (the NBA) is going yo make their point relevant… Of course, it doesn’t… They don’t get Q scores or the NBA culture across the American population… Those I only like baseball and college football because “they are pure” (code words for sure), well you just have to scratch you head…

Reality Check

December 14th, 2011
12:34 am

JSS,

You could be right, I respect that. I think it has more to do with a lack of city pride. The Saints sucked for a LONG time, then Payton and Brees showed up and everything changed. If Loomis cut Brees in the offseason, almost NO ONE would desert that team as a fan. Even when they were terrible, they loved that team first and foremost. Atlanta does not have that, and I am from here. The transient thing is real, and so is the history of bad ownership, but people don’t wear this city on their sleeves like they do in other sport markets. Maybe it’s all the years of disappointment. But too many people would rather associate with a winner somewhere else or just sit back and criticize what isn’t happening, than do their part to make Atlanta a better sports town.

JSS

December 14th, 2011
12:34 am

“yo = to”

Reality Check

December 14th, 2011
12:36 am

Oh yeah… and GO HAWKS!!! ;) lol

JSS

December 14th, 2011
12:39 am

Look Atlanta and possibly Miami are the only Southern cities where there is active campaign to undermine the image of the city within the respective region(s)… The city of Atlanta is the enemy, there is a whole subculture built around it…

Carrlos Lyles

December 14th, 2011
12:40 am

THE HAWKS DO NOT NEED A CENTER!! its going to slow things up and clog the lanes. AL can do it he can be an all-star at the forward-center position. the only way that the hawks are going to win more games than last year is by running.. its that simple.

Slimjr

December 14th, 2011
12:42 am

JSS

December 14th, 2011
12:39 am

“Look Atlanta and possibly Miami are the only Southern cities where there is active campaign to undermine the image of the city within the respective region(s)… The city of Atlanta is the enemy, there is a whole subculture built around it…”

JSS YOU ARE Freaking scary dude!!!!!!!!!!!!! Absolute Genius!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! lol

Slimjr

December 14th, 2011
12:43 am

“there is active campaign to undermine the image of the city within the respective region(s)… The city of Atlanta is the enemy, there is a whole subculture built around it…”

I see a Pulitzer prize book coming from ya JSS!!

Ra'mon

December 14th, 2011
12:44 am

People, to be honest, it was only 4-6 seasons ago everyone looked at Dirk, the way they’re looking at Joe. They thought Dirk would never be a winner, after how he played in the first finals. Remember GSW upsetting Dallas (a number 1 seed). Joe definitely has the natural ability to be able to score at a high rate. And he is easily one of the best defensive SGs in the league. If Josh is no longer worrying about how people will look at him if he dunks every play, and Teague stays healthy. The Hawks can beat anyone in a 7 game series.

Slimjr

December 14th, 2011
12:46 am

Prediction: Mr Blanks will be selling within 3 years….Good riddance!

Slimjr

December 14th, 2011
12:48 am

QB Driven League:

Drew=1 Melt=Never

Reality Check

December 14th, 2011
12:48 am

JSS,

You could be right again, and I can see it from the Braves perspective pre-Heyward, but have the Hawks done that? If anything, they embraced Atlanta culture more than the other local teams have and yet the fans give them the least amount of support.

Slimjr

December 14th, 2011
12:50 am

The Hawks are going to get off to a roaring start out of the gate:

18-4 in their 1st 22games!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Go Hawks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Grandad

December 14th, 2011
12:50 am

Mr Cunningham

If you’re still awake;
would you check on two FA’s for me [from the Hawks perspective].
Alex Ajinca – multi talented, still young, would come cheap, project
Troy Murphy – can play [4] or [5], always has been a good rebounder.

Thanks.

JSS

December 14th, 2011
12:50 am

Sorry, but Atlanta reminds me of what Boston and Detroit were like back in the early 70s where certain leaders can’t open their mouths without taking a jab at the city, the perception of the populous, and the excuses for not working to do the right things to stop biting the hand that feeds most of them in reality…

Reality Check

December 14th, 2011
12:54 am

Slim Jr,

You’re missing my point. Drew won New Orleans a Super Bowl championship and those fans STILL wouldn’t desert that team if Saints FO tossed him out. Most Atlanta fans are simply not that loyal to teams, only to individual players.