Atlanta Hawks: Season Review: Jason Collins

Season reviews presented in alphabetical order . . .

One of the Hawks’ odd organizational quarks is the insistence that Jason Collins is more than a specialist best suited for a narrowly defined role. Perhaps even weirder is how often that line of thinking has worked out for them . . . until it doesn’t.

Consider the 2012 playoffs. Larry Drew’s decision to start Collins against the Celtics in Game 1 seemed foolhardy but Collins had probably his best performance of the season in Game 1. He not only played good defense against Kevin Garnett but added six points and five rebounds in 32 minutes.

Collins’ production dropped off in Game 2 but his on-court, off-court was positive even as it became apparent Boston would focus more on attacking him with screen-rolls. Collins was OK in Game 3 but Drew’s faith in him had diminishing returns as Garnett abandoned his strange insistence on posting up Collins.

That Drew stuck with Collins as long as he did is an example of his tendency to give a long leash to veterans who have done anything positive for him in the past regardless of the negative things they are doing at the present (or, for that matter, the limitations suggested by their long-term history). That’s not to say the Hawks had any great options in the front court, especially after Ivan Johnson’s shaky outing in Game 2, but best to try something different when what you are using isn’t working.

I offer these critiques while acknowledging I thought it was a bad idea for the Hawks to bring back Collins in 2010-11. It seemed absurd that part of the reason the Hawks parted ways with Mike Woodson was because he didn’t play Collins enough minutes against the Magic in the 2010 playoffs. But it turned out Collins was a key part of the Dwight Defense in 2011. I also thought playing Collins significant minutes against the Celtics was a mistake but his play in Games 1 and (most of) 2 showed that he could help in small doses.

But if I’ve undervalued Collins at times, the Hawks continue to overvalue him. He’s still a solid post defender in certain matchups, though there’s evidence he’s slipping in that area: According to Synergy Sports Technology, this season Collins allowed .84 points per possession in 32 chances (141st in the league). His defensive on-court, off-court magic subsided even as his opponent PER was respectable.

Those defensive numbers (which, mind you, were accumulated in circumstances most favorable to Collins) would have to be much better to compensate for Collins’ career-long lack of offensive production and poor efficiency for a big man. There’s also the matter of Collins missing six weeks with an elbow injury, though that development had the effect of freeing up frontcourt minutes for Johnson.

Word is the Hawks will extend a tender to Johnson (as soon as they get around to putting a permanent GM in place) which probably would be enough to keep him. Perhaps that also would mean the end of the occasionally-fruitful-most-times-perplexing Collins era for the Hawks.

Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat

344 comments Add your comment

Paul

June 6th, 2012
1:38 pm

You have a tough job, MC, reporting on this franchise.

kwooden

June 6th, 2012
1:39 pm

I think retaining Ivan is a good idea, especially since this organization usually gets nothing out of it’s scouting and lower round picks. Collins holds a roster spot that needs to be filled with better talent, even if that talent is old like Damp.

Eric C.

June 6th, 2012
1:42 pm

Marcus

June 6th, 2012
1:46 pm

yup. Time to refresh the roster. Now, it remains to be seen if the ‘GM to be named later’ will be directed to find bargain basement filler after the top 7 players (assuming that our 1st rounder will be in that top 7). including 3rd string C behind Horford and Zaza.

be nice if the undrafted free agent SG from Seton Hall has enough game to make the roster, which would free up potential draft spots for a SF and mabye backup PG.

Luv Jeff Taylor (SF) from Vandy, esp. his supposed def. prowess. I see folks want C Fab Melo, but then it causes a domino effect on what becomes of Smoove, Horford, and Zaza. I don’t think the Hawks are ready to deal with that this summer.

Najeh Davenpoop

June 6th, 2012
1:53 pm

I don’t mind Collins being the 15th man on the roster but it is notable that Dampier outplayed him in the minutes he got. If I had to pick between one or the other, give me Dampier even though he is older.

The Hawks do need a veteran big man who plays solid position defense, but preferably they would be able to find someone better than either Collins or Dampier in free agency.

Najeh Davenpoop

June 6th, 2012
2:02 pm

FTPB

“Would you do a Josh for Al Jefferson trade straight up – especially if we knew we could sign Jefferson after this season?”

Jefferson brings many of the same problems as Gasol (not a true center, not a great defender, hasn’t proven he can win playoff games as the best player on his team) and isn’t as good of an offensive player as Gasol (mainly because Gasol is a much better passer), but unlike Gasol, Jefferson is still pretty young, not declining, and not locked into a wildly overpaid deal. For that reason, I’d rather bring him in than Gasol.

I don’t see Utah making that deal, though, and I’d rather not deal Josh for a player who will tie up cap space without improving the team.

HawksFanSince'89

June 6th, 2012
2:03 pm

Nobody cares how fired up KG is, he’s old, and if they don’t loose this series, they will loose the next.

Grandad

June 6th, 2012
2:04 pm

Michael:

Are the hawks seriously;
going into the draft, workout for players , etc,
w/o a GM in place ?
-0R-
The admitedly *uneducated
*[draft picks, i.e. college prospects]
Rick Sund in charge of the draft ?

Thnaks for the new Blog !

Grandad

June 6th, 2012
2:05 pm

admittedlty

two tt`s

Najeh Davenpoop

June 6th, 2012
2:05 pm

FTPB

“The East too me looks like:
Miami
Then New York, ATL, Indy, Philly and Chicago, in no particular order. I could see the Hawks beating any of those teams in a series – even Miami.”

I don’t think there’s any way in hell the Hawks beat Miami unless LeBron is injured. But one team you are forgetting in that mix is New Jersey. If Dwight gets his wish and goes there to unite with Deron Williams, they will probably be at worst a top 3 team in the East along with Miami and Chicago.

I still don’t see the Hawks breaking through that ceiling to the ECF unless they get some sort of break like the opposing team’s best player tearing his ACL. The chances of something like that happening are not good enough to justify keeping this core together in my opinion.

Najeh Davenpoop

June 6th, 2012
2:05 pm

Brooklyn, that is, not New Jersey.

Najeh Davenpoop

June 6th, 2012
2:07 pm

Also, I counted out Boston this year and I was wrong. If that team stays intact they are still going to make noise. Maybe they don’t make it back to the ECF but they will be good enough to knock someone out of the playoffs barring injury, especially if some of the young players on that bench like Bradley, Moore, Johnson, and Stiemsma develop.

Grandad

June 6th, 2012
2:07 pm

admittedly

two tt`s … not tt….t three

HawksFanSince'89

June 6th, 2012
2:10 pm

Don’t trade Josh and Al, if we do, the team would be worse. I have never been a fan of a two for one deal, it never works. Keep our core group together ego. Josh, Al, and Jeff.

Lacsho

June 6th, 2012
2:22 pm

A blog about Jason Collins WoW.

doc

June 6th, 2012
2:29 pm

lacsho this might be fun if mc goes through the roster this way, starting with the bottom of the list first.

Eric C.

June 6th, 2012
2:38 pm

HawksFanSince’89 —- I’m a Hawks Fan since 1985, and I’m telling you it did matter in game 6 of the first round. It was a close game and those comments fired up a sleeping giant…enough to prevent a game 7 in ATL and eventually the fast track to the first ECF in Atlanta Hawks history.

cp

June 6th, 2012
2:45 pm

There is no reason why Twin should be brought back. Dampier looked better than Twin despite being out of shape…

@Grandad the Hawks are not working out players until after the combine. They will be showing the combine tmw and friday on ESPNU. Not having a gm in place for working out players doesnt seem to matter much anyway in my opinion. If Sund doesnt come back Pendergraph will be promoted. He scouts all the college guys anyway so I dont think it matters much.

Just Joe

June 6th, 2012
2:46 pm

Glad to hear Ivan will likely be back.

We need to find a lock-down wing defender with his same attitude & hustle. Someone we can stick on Lebron, Granger, Wade, Kobe, Melo, Iggy, Pierce, G. Wallace, Gay, Batum, Durant & Deng.

Let’s trade Marvin for Metta World Peace. We’d be all filled-up on crazy with Ivan & Metta running around.

In closing, I’d like to than Mr. Collins for “clocking” Amundsen early in the season, but its time for him to move on.

HawksFanSince'89

June 6th, 2012
2:55 pm

@Eric C. I see where you are coming from, but the Hawks should have had enough fire in them to beat them regardless, because it’s a series with one of our most hated rivals, and we are trying to get to a ECF(Hopefully). Also, if we would have beat them in the game, that the Celtics didn’t have Rondo, we would have had a game 7, that game should have been a easy win!

Marcus

June 6th, 2012
3:04 pm

Najeh,
not feeling overly excited about the prospects looking at this list:

http://www.hoopsworld.com/2012-nba-free-agents

I kinda like Solomon Alabi, but I wonder if he has “stiff-like” qualities …. and if he has enough experience to be play sound position defense that belies his career stats.

Didn’t realize we spent nearly 4 mill between 3 players as SG backups … (T-Mac, WG, and Stack).

northcyde

June 6th, 2012
3:07 pm

LOL @ KG. He looked directly into the camera when he said “the owners who talk too much”.

Gearon proved how much of an idiot he was during that luncheon. He’s too much of a “fanboy” who thinks he knows about the league, but doesn’t know a thing about what it takes to win in the league. KG may be “dirty” at times, but if he’s on your side, that’s the type of guy you want on your team. Someone who will stop at nothing to win.

As for you Najeh, you seem to totally ignore the reciprocal effects ( team wide ) of having a guy who plays the PF position like it’s supposed to be played, and how that may have a ripple effect on the team as a whole. You’re against bringing in better offensive PF’s in Gasol or Jefferson . . yet you’re for a trade for Joakim Noah, a guy who will definitely defend, but would weaken us even more offensively.

Why is that?

You act like Gasol is a defensive liability, but he isn’t. The same goes for Jefferson. Both players can hold their on on the defensive end. Both players are loads to handle on the offensive end.

When you add Zaza to the mix, you now all of a sudden have a big frontline to deal with. Instead of worrying about matching up with other frontlines, people would have to match up with us.

Horford: 6-10 . . 250
Zaza: 6-11 . . 275
Gasol: 7-0 . . 250

or

Horford: 6-10 . . 250
Zaza: 6-11 . . 275
Jefferson: 6-10 . . 289

That’s either major height or major beef on the frontline.

I know your opinion is set in stone about not bringing in either of these guys, but I’m just throwing it out there for everyone to see. Josh Smith is a great roming defender, one of the best in the league at what he does. But at 6-9 and now at 225, he’s simply too small now to defend good low post players down on the block.

He’s changed his body to play SF, so I guess we may as well play him there, seeing that he’s taking SF type shots.

Dawg

June 6th, 2012
3:11 pm

MC: I feel for you. Thanks for trying. A blog about Collins. Dampier was a better backup. The fact that the Hawks brag about having Collins speaks volumes.

northcyde

June 6th, 2012
3:40 pm

MC’s player write-ups should be interesting. A mix of opinions and facts to back his opinions up. When he gets to the coach, I hope the same formula will be used.

I think I’m going to sign up and pay to subscribe to Synergy ( $19.95 now ). It’ll give me something to do over the summer. Should’ve done it a long time ago.

High-sider

June 6th, 2012
3:41 pm

@Grandad

“…The admitedly *uneducated
*[draft picks, i.e. college prospects]
Rick Sund in charge of the draft ?

Thnaks for the new Blog !” – Grandad @2:04pm, 6/6/2012

“admittedly

two tt`s … not tt….t three” – Grandad @2″07pm, 6/6/2012

What [are you going to say] about “Thnaks” in your post @2:04pm?

Najeh Davenpoop

June 6th, 2012
3:49 pm

“You act like Gasol is a defensive liability, but he isn’t. The same goes for Jefferson. Both players can hold their on on the defensive end.”

We’re going to have to agree to disagree on this one. Long arms may get you 1.5 blocks per game by default but they don’t make you a good defender.

“You’re against bringing in better offensive PF’s in Gasol or Jefferson . . yet you’re for a trade for Joakim Noah, a guy who will definitely defend, but would weaken us even more offensively.”

I thought the whole point of trading Josh was to move Al to his natural position of PF. In order to do that, you have to get a natural C. Noah plays C with the toughness and tenacity necessary to play that position full time. Gasol and Jefferson don’t. I realize Noah is not a good offensive player, but if this is just about making the offense more “balanced”, replacing Josh with Noah will arguably accomplish that better than replacing him with Gasol or Jefferson, since Noah does actually hang around the basket all the time, while Jefferson often shoots jumpers and Gasol very frequently shoots jumpers.

Assuming Al’s best position is PF, if you have a front court of Al and Gasol/Jefferson, someone is playing out of their best position. If you have a front court of Al and Noah, both players are playing at their optimal position.

More importantly, Noah brings competitive energy and fire that Gasol simply does not have. This team’s personality is already way too much like Gasol. They need someone like Noah.

“Horford: 6-10 . . 250
Zaza: 6-11 . . 275
Gasol: 7-0 . . 250

or

Horford: 6-10 . . 250
Zaza: 6-11 . . 275
Jefferson: 6-10 . . 289

That’s either major height or major beef on the frontline.”

Those three players can’t all play at the same time, so I don’t really see the point. Unless you are starting Zaza, someone is still playing out of position.

“But at 6-9 and now at 225, he’s simply too small now to defend good low post players down on the block.”

You sound an awful lot like pointguardslim right now. Size is important but it isn’t everything. I can tell you this — Josh defends KG a hell of a lot better than Gasol does.

prison mike

June 6th, 2012
3:50 pm

Why would anyone “subscribe” to a stats site when you could just rewatch the games… don’t understand this, basketball is not calculus.

Twin just needs to retire. This draft and next years should insure he and guys like Damp should go ahead and call it a career.

Najeh Davenpoop

June 6th, 2012
3:50 pm

If the Hawks were going up against Dwight Howard, and they had to guard him with either Al or Gasol, I know who I’d rather have guarding Dwight, and it ain’t Pau. That is a problem if Pau is being brought in to be the C who moves Al to his “natural position”.

Najeh Davenpoop

June 6th, 2012
3:54 pm

“not feeling overly excited about the prospects looking at this list:

http://www.hoopsworld.com/2012-nba-free-agents

I kinda like Solomon Alabi, but I wonder if he has “stiff-like” qualities …. and if he has enough experience to be play sound position defense that belies his career stats.”

Yeah, I doubt that Alabi has been in the league long enough to learn the tricks of the trade that make Collins and Dampier effective. The most promising players on that list I see to fill this role are (gulp) Kwame Brown and Nazr Mohammed. Pretty weak list. I wouldn’t mind just keeping Collins or Dampier in that last roster spot.

Astro Joe

June 6th, 2012
3:56 pm

Give me Gasol all day long and twice in the low post.

What mistake has Sund made in the draft that warrants such concern?

Twin appears to be super smart and he likely is able to overcome his physical limitations for short spurts before the reality of his body takes over. So I’m not terribly surprised that he has been effective (during abbreviated stints). I recall that MJ’s Bulls always had some gray-haired big man on the bench waiting for their 5 minutes to earn a championship ring. John Salley, an ancient Robert Parrish and Bill Cartwright come to mind.

Najeh Davenpoop

June 6th, 2012
3:57 pm

Teague-Joe-(insert SF upgrade here)-Al-Noah would give you solid defenders at every position and adequate help defense. You wouldn’t have the post scoring that Gasol or Jefferson would give, but it’s not like their post scoring is going to elevate this team to the conference finals anyway. Noah has a more palatable contract that Gasol, isn’t up for an extension like Jefferson, is younger than both, and can be a foundational piece for this team for a long time. Long term, if you amnesty or trade Joe, you have Teague-Al-Noah as your core and you are a scorer away from being an elite team. The only reason Gasol or Jefferson is better is if they put this team over the top in the short term, and they don’t.

northcyde

June 6th, 2012
3:58 pm

Marcus

June 6th, 2012
3:04 pm

Najeh,
not feeling overly excited about the prospects looking at this list:

http://www.hoopsworld.com/2012-nba-free-agents

I kinda like Solomon Alabi, but I wonder if he has “stiff-like” qualities …. and if he has enough experience to be play sound position defense that belies his career stats.

Didn’t realize we spent nearly 4 mill between 3 players as SG backups … (T-Mac, WG, and Stack).

*****************************

Of that list, here are the realistic people that we can afford, to bring in ( not going to include guys on the team last year )

POINT GUARD

- Delonte West
- Keyon Dooling
- John Lucas

SHOOTING GUARD

- Mickael Pietrus
- Shannon Brown
- Marquis Daniels
- Michael Redd
- Keith Bogans

SMALL FORWARD

- Matt Barnes
- Damien Wilkins
- Rasual Butler
- Sam Young

POWER FORWARD

- Troy Murphy
- Chris Wilcox
- Brian Cardinal
- Yi Jialian ( whew . . so glad we didn’t take him over Horford )
- Reggie Evans ( a pipe dream, somebody will pay him )
- Shelden Williams ( haha . . a big possibility actually )

CENTER

- Daniel Orton ( who the Hawks so-called coveted last year )
- Solomon Alabi
- Hasheem Thabeet
- Ben Wallace

So there you go. Happy shopping.
- Donald Sloan

northcyde

June 6th, 2012
3:58 pm

Meant to put Donald Sloan in the PG list.

Melvin

June 6th, 2012
3:59 pm

MC, thanks for the blog and I know you are doing your due diligence on recapping the Hawks season but I hope the ASG spent less time on resigning Collins then I did reading this blog on him. Nice to hear they are going to attempt to bring back Ivan.

High-sider

June 6th, 2012
4:01 pm

“We sittin’ in here, Hawks supposed to be championship contenders, we in here talkin’ about [Jason] Collins [sic].” [repeat (over and over)] – High-sider

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_UlY_xaMPk&feature=related

Somebody do a remix to the above quote and post that on “YouTube.” [smh]

Steve Porter, where ya at; we [Hawks fans] need a remix [sic].

KevinM

June 6th, 2012
4:02 pm

Pau is a PF
Al is a PF
Josh is a PF

Why are we obsessed with PFs in this city?

MC, you gotta admit…one 32min/6pts/5reb effort is not enough to beat the Celtics in a best of 7. Collins was visible for one game and after that, LD’s magic wand went poof.

The Garnett accusations are comical by Gearon. He definitely has no idea how to keep a sleeping dog down. Like when Sund decides to speak, I hope MC forgoes any more interviews with these 2 going forward.
All they do is rile the population.

High-sider

June 6th, 2012
4:06 pm

Bye, [Erik] Spoelstra!

O'Brien

June 6th, 2012
4:10 pm

northcyde,

I think the writeups on Josh, LD and JJ will be the most interesting.

O'Brien

June 6th, 2012
4:12 pm

Najeh,

The Hawks do need a veteran big man who plays solid position defense, but preferably they would be able to find someone better than either Collins or Dampier in free agency.

Given their vet min budget, it will be tough.

Ra'mon

June 6th, 2012
4:14 pm

Najeh, I totally agree with you. Gasol can’t be relied upon to play the C position in the playoffs. However, if the Hawks had Gasol and Horford in the line up, and signed someone similar to Dalembert to back him up, then that is different.

However, who ever it is that think you can get Gasol for Josh and Marvin, you’re wrong. The Lakers don’t want Gasol. The deal would be closer to Josh, Zaza, and Teague for Gasol and a pick.

Melvin

June 6th, 2012
4:16 pm

Northcycde,

That entire list is depressing. I sure hope the Hawks can make some other moves to improve this team besides signing guys at the vet min.

Ra'mon

June 6th, 2012
4:17 pm

O’B, in your mind, who’s contract is worse, Boozer’s or Joe?

Melvin

June 6th, 2012
4:19 pm

Al Jefferson is a perennial loser. Gasol couldn’t get it done last year playing beside Bynum and Kobe and he’s on the decline of his career. No thank you to either.

Fundamentals

June 6th, 2012
4:20 pm

A blog on Collins? Thanks buddy, how bout just saying they intend to retain Ivan as a title and post a new blog with no article, just room for comments. It’s not your fault MC, I realize you’re really scraping. So in the end…thanks for the new material.

Maybe you can feature a blog on why Jamal would/could/will save the Hawks and another to bash the Hinrich/JC2 deal to rehash more stuff that has nothing to do with our future.

We need young rising talent. We have plenty of vets who just don’t have what it takes. We need a new culture. One only dreams of turning our Sonics in to a new Thunder. Always wishin we had scouts like the Spurs or Thunder making our pics. Instead we’ll sell the draft rights to the 2012 Shellhead for cash to pay our tax on our underachieving lackluster team.

Maybe I’m in a bad mood today, makes me want to vomit. Sorry Hawks fans.

Amen to KG proving it’s about Hard Work, Committment, Passion for the game and HEART! Screw ASG.

Melvin

June 6th, 2012
4:26 pm

Ramon,

It’s not even close, Joe. He will be making at least 20mil for the next 4 seasons… That’s almost 1/3 of the team salary cap.

Fundamentals

June 6th, 2012
4:27 pm

Perfect High Sider – we need to pay Iverson to make an infomercial for Sund, ASG and the whole Hawks franchise leadership with him saying:

We’re sitting here talking about Collins? Not the playoffs, not the championship, but Jason Collins? over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over

O'Brien

June 6th, 2012
4:29 pm

Pietrus is a guy I liked 2 years ago, and he reminds me of a poor man’s Bruce Bowen.

He plays good defense (has given ISO-JJ problems, and for a possession here and there, will make LeBron or Wade really work), and will make a big play at some point (whether that’s 2 key offensive rebounds or a big 3).

Marvin’s $7.5 mil would be better spent on a guy like that who costs less, and still have a few mil left over.

Can we continue to rely on vet min players to come up big for us (especially in the playoffs)?

donte080

June 6th, 2012
4:29 pm

re: “Dampier looked better than Twin”…

I’ve seen this comment 2 or 3 times in this blog….all I can say/ask is What are you clowns smoking? Collins is certainly nothing special, but…..Dampier looked awful…just awful…all season long.

steve brown

June 6th, 2012
4:32 pm

How can a “reporter” get a way with a worthless story on Jason Collins. Only in Atlanta. This contributes to our loserville image. I am outraged that you were allowed to post such drivel. Next you should do a story on an assistant coach or a trainer or the children of the owners.

O'Brien

June 6th, 2012
4:33 pm

Ra’mon,

Given the Hawks financial limitations, Boozer’s contract is better than JJ’s imo. 4 years, $89 mil left on JJ’s contract. As a matter of fact, Boozer’s original contract was 5 years, $75 – $80 mil. So Boozer’s overall contract is less than what’s left on JJ’s contract.